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Table Of Contents
Message From the Editor
Letters From Our Readers
In Tune -- Obsidian Dream's "Sorrow's Triumph"
Monthly Software Review -- SoftSynths
Tracking for the People [Dilvish]
Message From the Editor
Welcome all to another issue of Static Line. I must say, this issue
means a lot to me. Why? This issue is being sent to 51 readers. You
may not consider that a whole lot, but considering I didn't think this
project would get this far, that makes me happy. We still need some
more columnists though -- e-mail me if your interested.
First of all, let me begin by appologizing for this issue being
slightly late. It has been a hectic week, and I can't even begin to
tell you what midterms are like around here. However, I was able to get
this issue out with everything intact. Special thanks to my roomate and
my girlfriend who did some last-minute proof reading for me. I didn't
have the time to send it out to my assistant editors.
This month, Louis reviews a handfull (actually three) softsynths in
his Monthly Software Review. Be sure to check that out if you're
looking for new samples or a new way to create them. The music of a
group called Obsidian Dream gets reviewed this month in In Tune. Yes,
we do accept co-op tunes for review. Finally, Dilvish brings us a guest
column about writing music for the non-trackers (they exist ya know).
Setec will be back next month with the continuation of his percussion
mini-series. For now, he's got too much to do -- highly understandable.
As always, we like to hear feedback...it helps us tune the magazine
to the way you like it. Like a column, let us know why. Dislike a
column, we especially wanna know this.
Letters From Our Readers
-=- Letter from Catspaw -=-
Great job so far on Static Line! Since the demise of Traxweekly (or
Traxsemianually, whatever) I've really missed having a periodic emag for
the music side of the demoscene. In particular, I really love the way
you have the reviews set up. Normally, I eschew any kind of formal
reviewing system, as they tend to have the same failing that the Hornet
rating system had: they were based from individual opinions, which
reflected far too much of that individual's taste.
The point/counterpoint method you have going is great, though. You
have two people from widely diverse viewpoints, whose biases and
preferences are stated up-front. So far, I've found the balance of the
two to give a really good impression of what the music's like. Keep it
-=> I am glad that the column turned out well so far. I originally
brought SiN into the on-going project so that I would have an easier
time. Its amazeing the other advantages of having two columnists on
the same column -- and it is much easier for us to bring you quality
Obsidian Dream's "Sorrow's Triumph"
By: Coplan and SiN
This month, it appears as though I'm flying solo again. SiN has a
lot to do with midterms, and has made an effort to write -- but
unfortunately, school has gotten the best of him. I on the other
hand am not affected by school. I'm what one would call a "slacker."
The tune on the review block this month is a song by not one, not two
but three guys: Catspaw (Brandon Bannerman), Dude (Miran Walter) and
Dream Scythe (Patrick Hiller). Together, they form a group called
Obsidian Dream, and co-op tunes like this are common within the group.
A warning about the song: It is a large song, about 3 Megabytes large,
and its all IT 2.14 compressed format. This means that if you use any
of the Gravis Ultrasounds, you more than likely won't be able to hear it
useing IT. If you have a GUS-PNP, you need at least 6MB to listen to
the song. Your other alternative is to use MikIT, or Winamp, though I
would recommend MikIT.
-=- Coplan -=-
First of all, let me first start off by complimenting the group on
their teamwork. I for one have never been very good with co-ops, let
alone a co-op among three people. The tune is very refined -- almost
flawless. Based on the song alone, I don't think there was any conflict
in method within the trio. The sample selection is quite amazing as
well. Of all the samples in the song (there are easily over 40), I
would have to say that I only disapprove of some of the kick bass and
snare samples. Details, such as sound fluctuation within the same
instrument, were not overlooked, as they have loaded 3 or 4 samples
relating to the same sample. That much attention to a song should be
The song opens with a well orchestrated brawl of string and wind
instruments. The first time I heard this song, this really pulled me
into the song. A well tempered introduction can make or break a song.
After all, many listeners out there may simply choose to judge a song on
its opening. Change begins as soon as order 5 when the introduction is
faded out completely. Silence, then the piano. If you ever want to use
this sort of technique in one of your introductions, be careful. Its
not as easy as Obsidian Dream makes it look. A complete fadeout this
close to the beginning of the song gets tricky. The important thing is
to unify it in some way as these guys have done. Notice how the flute
and the cellos act. Remind you of the very beginning? Good, that's
In order 8, we get our first listen of the percussion. They have
done something that I have seen before, but I feel isn't done enough,
and that is how they used a seperate sample for their drum rolls. You
will notice this both in their marching snare and their kettle drum.
This is not to say that the simple use of the retrigger command isn't
good, because with some instruments it works just fine. However, useing
a seperate sample for your drum rolls is the closest to reality you're
going to get. While you're listening to this part, also check out how
the violins and the flutes interact with each other. They play back and
forth, complimenting what the other has just played.
Shift to order 18. As many of the instruments fade out here, I would
say that this was at one time leading into a truly great transition.
Order 19 comes, and I truly thought that's where the transition was
going -- but I was wrong. Instead, we have too much closure. It feels
to me as though the song is over, especially with that gong and the near
silence. To be perfectly honest (and perhaps a little blunt), this
transition could have been handled much better. What comes to us in
order 21 might as well be a new song. Oh well, moving on.
My favorite part of the song starts at order 21. This mellow piano
part gets inside you. I was humming this part for hours after I first
heard the song -- the sign of a catchy tune. The quality of the piano
samples are well demonstrated, and well needed, here. With anything of
lesser quality, the section would be far less effective. Notice how the
piano is used here: how the chords are worked into the piece, what the
low notes do, what the high notes do. Notice how the left hand (the low
notes) compliments the right as the right plays the key lead. My
roomate was disappointed when the percussion came in at order 24, but
I am very satisfied. Not only does the percussion seem to fit well with
the piano, but it too is done very well. That shaker tops it here.
I won't dwell on it, but the transition between order 34 and order 36
is handled much better. The only thing that I would've liked to have
seen is that roll coming in much sooner. This is my next favorite part
of the song. The thing that makes this part so unique is the way the
strings are handled. Note slides, pizzicato strings, an occasional
unpatterned jump of the strings. This is what makes this interesting.
The orchestra seems to evolve around you, it develops a personality.
That's what you want. By the way, I keep pointing out weak transitions,
the transition from order 44 to order 45 is a great example of a well
orchestrated transition. The tune is worked up to that transition, it
is presented by the decreasing scale of the flute, the few riffs of the
snare (very soft) and finally a cymbol crash. Then very nearly complete
change. But what ties it together? For one, the fact that there was no
break in time. But the thing that really ties it together is something
so slight you might overlook it: the violin. All through the last
part, the violin was playing a steady D-3, and it still is. Unity.
Now let the pianos play around.
The best transition of the entire piece is the one from order 53 to
order 55. You are dropped through a viscous mass onto the mellow
strings from the beginning. First the workup, in this case it was a
whole array of stringed instruments with an increase in volume. Second,
the fadeout. Just as those instruments are about to die, a crescendo
cymbol, and suddenly, the strings form into something recognizable.
Sound simple? This time it is. This is not a difficult transition
style to master. So why do I make such a big deal of it? Because no
one uses it. Simplicity is sometimes what we need.
This brings us to the final segment of the song. Lets spice up the
chorus a bit and throw some rock in there. It's effective, though it
leaves something to be desired. I felt like I had just finished a game
of Final Fantasy. Don't get me wrong, I do very much like the ending
segment. However, the percussion here is not nearly as clean as it was
elsewhere. Remember how I mentioned the seperate drum roll sample?
Well, here it didn't need to be used for a drum roll that was less than
a second long, but it was used several times. The same effect could
have been done much more realistically with the note delay command and
severe volume changes. The ending itself was very well done and very
dramatic. Thats what I like to see.
Well, its been a while now, I think its about time I wrap up. This
is to date one of my favorite songs. It is probably one of the best
songs I have officially reviewed for Trax Weekly or Static Line. This
is a must-have, even if you don't traditionally like orchestra tunes.
Well, until next month.
Coplan: IT 2.14 useing default Interwave drivers; Koss Standard
Headphones and his home stereo.
Title: "Sorrow's Triumph"
Author: Obsidian Dream (Catspaw, Dude, Dream Scythe)
Filename (unzipped): striumph.it
File Size: 3.05 Meg
Source: ftp://ftp.scene.org <--exact directory not known
"In Tune" is a regular column dedicated to the review of original and
singular works by fellow trackers. It is to be used as a tool to expand
your listening and writing horizons, but should not be used as a general
rating system. SiN and Coplan's opinions are not the opinions of the
Static Line Staff.
If you have heard a song you would like to recommend (either your
own, or another person's), we can be contacted through e-mail useing the
addresses found in the closing notes. Please do not send files attached
to e-mail without first contacting us. Thank you!
Montly Software Review
By: Louis Gorenfeld
Softsynths are perfect for the tracker without (or even with, if you
only have one) a serious synthesizer. They allow you to make samples
from nothing except that one program and if you're lazy, you can even
sequence a pattern or so to stick into one of your songs.
Review : Stomper
If you only have room for one softsynth, this is the one to have. It
started as a simple drum synthesizer, but can also produce deep bass
sounds, 303ish sounds (yeah, like we don't have enough of those), sound
effects, tape stops and your typical sweeping synth sounds. Its ability
to use any WAV file as a waveform for an oscillator means you can make
custom waveforms using a wave editor like cooledit, and if you want to
get crazy, a text editor too. In addition, it allows for a seemingly
unlimited amount of oscillators (I tried up to 46 oscill- ators), and
the unintimidating interface makes it good for people new to softsynths.
Stomper is my most used softsynth.
Sequencer : No
Realtime : No
Oscillators : Infinate
Waveforms : Sine, Saw, Square, Triangle, WAV + noise
Envelopes : 2 (Frequency Curve, Amplitude Curve)
Special FX : None
Exports : WAV, RAW
Ease of Use : Very easy
Platform : Win95
Rating : 4/4
Review : Orangator
This synth sounds great after you get used to the scary-looking
interface. It can produce complex instruments such as xylophones, nice
pads, and even good hihats and rides! It even has what it calls a phat
sound generator so that with only a little tweaking you can make rich
sounding samples. It comes with numerous sample setting files there for
you to study and mess around with (which is the best way to learn to use
this synth). As far as filters are concerned, there are plenty.
Orangator has a resonance filter, 2 average filters (one with resonance,
the other without) and a high/low cutoff filter. However, the program
is not perfect. It's not the greatest at basses, low drum noises or
most natural sounding inst- ruments and it's slow at rendering the
samples. But even with these small downsides, this is one of the best
softsynths you will come across.
Sequencer : Yes
Realtime : Togglable, needs fast CPU
Oscillators : Ten
Waveforms : 3 Sines, 2 Saws, Square, Triangle, 2 Noises,
Custom and up to 2 seperate WAV's
Envelopes : 4 (3 ASDR, 1 Graphical)
Special FX : Overdrive, Chorus, Flanger, Feedback, Reverb, Harmonics
Exports : WAV, XI, RAW
Ease of Use : Hard
Platform : Win95
Rating : 4/4
Review : Defractor
This synth is for making screechy acidy sounds. Nothing else, really.
While it comes with bass sounds, it doesn't come close to sounding
bassy. There are no filtering capabilities to speak of, which further
limits you. It can do a 'noise' waveform, but it's not real noise: it
just loops two little spikes and sounds more like a buzz. If a harsh,
menacing sound is what you're after you should check this out, but for
anything else no amount of waveforms can save this sad synth.
Sequencer : No
Realtime : No
Oscillators : Two
Waveforms : Sine, 2 Squares, Saw, Triangular, 4 Teeth,
Circular, Noise, RAW waveforms
Envelopes : 2 (Attack/Decay)
Special FX : Overdrive
Exports : WAV, XI, RAW
Ease of Use : Easy
Platform : Win95
Rating : 2/4
Tracking for the People
This month, I want to share a few ideas about creating music that
anybody can listen to. A lot of times, trackers get caught up in
loyalties to certain trackers (IT, or FT2 for example) and don't
consider making music that the general public can listen to on a car
A big part of your potential audience has never even heard of MODs.
Why? Because they all live in the dark ages of CD's cassettes, and
top40 radio, of course.
So how can you open yourself to new opportunities? Do you think
you'll never achieve any kind of fame because you can only go so far in
the tracking community? The age of loneliness has long passed. Today
there are many formats that you can use to get your music to the people.
It's not hard to convert tracked music to WAV, and from there, the sky
is the limit.
Many musicians are throwing together webpages with music in MP3, Real
Audio, and Liquid audio formats - just to name a few - as well as their
native tracked format. This is a very exciting trend with very real
possibilities. It's not too dificult to make the right connections, and
expose a whole new audience to your music.
There are other benefits to breaking out of the traditional tracker
formats. You know those 20 meg multi-sampled grand piano sets, and
multi-sampled orchestra pits that were always way too huge to use in
your latest release? Sample size becomes irrelevent when you start
thinking about CD or MP3. Neither do the number of NNA's you use. Feel
free to go hog wild and break all the rules.
You know that great guitar riff you've been working on? Strap on,
plug in, and record it. Pull that 30 seccond riff into your favorite
editor, and layer it with astral effects, and a heavy chorous. Hell,
why not track a synth riff and layer that with some outrageously huge
effect? Play with delay and filter sweeps... add character with timbre
dynamics, and break out of your shell.
Tracking has no walls. No limits. You are free to do whatever you
want with your music, and you are free to distribute it any way you
want. Break the barriers, and sell your new CD on the web, and
enlighten a whole new audience.
The world is ours to entertain. Let's make some noise.
Dilvish recently came out of a mental hospital, and his views and
oppinions do not reflect the rest of the universe. He thinks that
limits are silly, and that rules were meant to be bent and broken. He
thinks that everybody has the power to shape the world, and cause global
change - especially musicians. He also thinks that a bigger audience
gives you more influence. What a nutcase. peace, baby. ;)
Editor: Coplan / D. Travis North / email@example.com
Assistant Editors: Ranger Rick / Ben Reed / firstname.lastname@example.org
Subliminal / Matt Friedly / email@example.com
Web Manager: Dilvish / Eric Hamilton / firstname.lastname@example.org
Columnists: Coplan / D. Travis North / email@example.com
Dilvish / Eric Hamilton / firstname.lastname@example.org
Louis Gorenfeld / email@example.com
SiN / Ian Haskin / firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Writers: Acell / Jamie LeSouef / email@example.com
Darkheart / Zach Heitling / firstname.lastname@example.org
Setec / Jesper Pederson / email@example.com
Technical Support: Draggy / Nicolas St. Pierre / firstname.lastname@example.org
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If you would like to contribute an article to Static Line, be aware
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See you next month!