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Table Of Contents
Message From the Editor
Letters From Our Readers
In Tune -- Caesar's "The Affectionate"
Monthly Software Review -- More Soft-synths: DrumSyn and FM Dreams
The Zen of Tracking -- Hearing the Mood
Screen Lit Vertigo -- Robomatix by Suspend (Final-version)
Back on Track -- What's New and What Could Be
Message From the Editor
Wow! Long break, eh? Well, let me tell you what's been happening.
First of all, Kosmic got a new server, and has been through two service
providers. Now that they've found one that is willing to work with
them, we've been able to get our listserv back up. Many thanks to
Draggy (Nicolas St. Pierre) and Jim Nicholson for setting this up for us
once again. Fan mail can be directed towards their e-mail as listed in
the closing. =)
Welcome back everyone, we're back on line and cooking as usual. We
got a great issue ready for you this month. First, I review a song by
Caesar, then Louis is back with some more soft-synths. Dilvish has some
inspirational tips with his column, Zen of Tracking. Then with our
fourth column this month, we have Seven's review of Robomatix. Finally,
for all of you who are curious about what exaclty happened in the last
few months, I wrote a breif article filling you in.
On a final note, please let me know if you experience _any_ problems
with the listserv. We should have all problems ironed out, but just in
Until next month,
Letters From Our Readers
-=- Letter from distance -=-
<distance> Static Line on the Web: http://www.ic.i7.net/statline
<ps_> its demo.cat!!! how many times do i have to tell coplan that?!?!?!?
<distance> probably enough
oh yeah, apply for scene.org spcae if you don't already.
-=> Reply from Coplan:
Thanks for the reminder distance and ps! I did update it just after
the last issue, but since we've been away for two months, no one has
noticed. So, please note that the change has been made.
As far as the space on scene.org, we've thought about it. There are
two things from stopping us from applying. One is the fact that in the
future, we may have our own domain. The other is the fact that we have
space in the Immortal Coil webspace. Between Immortal Coil and Static
Line, I have about 750MB to play with. Considering neither will ever
need that much space before I upgrade...I'd rather that the space on
scene.org be reserved for less fortunate groups within the scene.
Still, it will always remain as an option I suppose.
Caesar's "The Affectionate"
By: Coplan and <this space for rent>
Hello, and welcome back to a long awaited Static Line and In Tune. I
think I have benefited from the break substantially, and I'm ready for a
fresh new review. I gotta warn you though, this is the first time that
I've ever reviewed a Fast Tracker formatted song for publication. I
just discovered that I can't multitask with Fast Tracker too easily.
All this means is that my writing style may be a little different than
normal as I wrote most of it on paper first. You'd be surprised how
hard it was for me to find paper for this purpose. =)
This month, I am going to review a song titled "The Affectionate" by
Caesar of ProFound Sound. Before I get into the technical and aesthetic
points of this song, let me quick point out something about the data
tecnicalities (Yes, you get more than just music here!). The complete
filename of the song after it is uncompressed is "Affect 1.xm." Notice
that there is a space in the filename. This if fine for Windows 9x
users (which I assume is most of you). However, for the few that use
Linux, Unix or similar systems on a regular basis, spaces within a
filename create complex issues. One could still designate a file such
as this at a prompt, but it's an annoyance that some may discount. The
other technicality that I must point out is the file format. This is a
Fast Tracker file. Listen to it in Fast Tracker. There's enough
difference in sample and instrument handleing as well as subtle tempo
issues that require you to listen to formats in their native tracker.
There is a big reason why I sacrifice my smooth writing style to a good
clean and fair review.
Now, on to the music.
The intro is just like the intro that I myself like to write. A few
strings to set the progression, then a clean kick into a rock riff. The
percussion in general is clean and simple. Notice how it changes with
the music, however. Ahhh...not quite as simple as we had initially
thought, eh? If you study the percussion throughout the song, you'll
see exactly what I mean. The percussion tends to follow the music.
Wait, no...it seems to lead the music. In actuality, there really is no
way to tell (unless you're the author of course). Those of you trying
to improve your percussion can learn a lot from this song, believe it or
not. Especially study the use of the base drum and the crash cymbols.
Immediately after the percussion kicks in early in the song, the
trumpet is right there to take up the role of the lead instrument. It
actually is part of the initial transition from the intro. Not even a
quarter of a pattern after the percussion starts, the trumpet starts
its little ditty. Though this isn't the best trumpet sample I have
ever seen, it has a stylistic character about it. I would say this is
a synthesized trumpet (as you will hear with the higher notes), but one
that lends a certain quality to the song. Now, lets listen to what the
trumpet has to say. It's telling us that it is neither happy, nor is
it sad. The beat lends to a typical 4/4 rock song, but the trumpet
carries longer notes: mostly half notes and sometimes even whole
notes. Rarely will you see any short and bouncy notes in this song.
But, this is in a major key, so it isn't a sad song either. Just an
overall mellow song. If you read Caesar's notes in his instruments
panel, you'll notice that the song is indeed about a lonely person:
Neither happy nor sad.
Throughout the song, you'll also notice some key orchestration. The
first example of this is at order 0C (Hexidecimal orders, another reason
to use Fast Tracker to listen to this song: follow along with me). The
backup stringed instruments aren't directly related to the lead. Notice
it doesn't follow the lead, it doesn't mimic the lead, it doesn't even
harmonize the lead. Other than remaining in-key, its only purpose to
the song at this point is to counter-point the lead. When writing your
own music, experiment with riffs that don't resemble your other
instruments. You may be surprised at what you'll come up with. Don't
expect miracles, though, because it takes lots of patience.
Lets take a look at some of the better transitions in this song (for
those of you reading for the first time, I love pointing out
transitions). Lets take a look at a somewhat simplistic approach to a
transition. Starting at order 0B, the instruments start a termination
riff where they will eventually fade out before the end of the pattern.
Even the base cuts down a bit to leave a pause very near the end of the
pattern. The only instrument that continues at full breath is the
trumpet, which leads directly into order 0C where the base guitar and
other instruments fade back in. This is a technique that I have pointed
out many times and think everyone could learn very easily. That's why I
keep pointing them out. Now, lets check out a transition starting at
order 10. Again, the percussion builds up to a termination riff, a
short silence of all instruments, then back in with the trumpet, strings
and base guitar. Please notice that when the transition is complete and
order 11 has started that the background counterpoint instruments no
longer exist for the time being. This is important. If all the
instruments played all the time, the song wouldn't have many different
moods, and wouldn't have any of these dynamic transitions. Think
Now, lets jump ahead a bit to that really mellow part around order
21. The percussion here has changed drastically from the rest of the
song. This is always an option, but watch your technique. If this
were a competition, I would pick at this part a little more because the
percussion here isn't nearly as tight as throughout the rest of the
song. The riffs tend to fade too much into the background, and the drum
rolls are a bit weak. Don't worry though, upon another shift of mood,
we are carried into the most upbeat part of the song starting at order
28 and 29. This upbeat part leads into an even higher mood with an even
higher key. Very cool! But watch those samples. I'm not trying to be
too hard on Caesar, but if you're going to use such a vast range of any
instrument, in this case the trumpet, please make sure that there won't
be any sample distortion. At the very highest notes, the trumpet will
sound slightly out of tune. This has to do with wave-form dynamics,
which is much too complicated to explain here. Just know that the
potential problem could exist in your music as well.
All in all, I think this is a fine example of tracked art. No one
recommended this song to me, and no one asked me to review the tune. I
stumbled across it one day browsing the web, and gave it a listen. It's
a good break from the hardcore I've been listening to. This song makes
me feel like I'm in a garden in the middle of fall. Cheers to Caesar.
Just a note before I close up. I would still like to have a partner
to write this column with. I would like someone to dedicate one evening
a month to review a song that I too will review. Just like in the old
days, I would like to have an alternate view of a given peice. Please
send me a message if you are even remotely interested.
Coplan: IT 2.14 useing default Interwave drivers or Fast Tracker 2.06;
Koss Mixing Headphones and his home stereo.
Title: The Affectionate
Filename (zipped/unzipped): affectionate.zip / Affect 1.xm
File Size (zipped/unzipped): 1.2 MB / 1.7 MB
"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. Coplan's opinions are not the opinions of the Static
If you have heard a song you would like to recommend (either your
own, or another person's), I can be contacted through e-mail useing the
address found in the closing notes. Please do not send files attached
to e-mail without first contacting me. Thank you!
Montly Software Review
More Soft-synths: DrumSyn and FM Dreams
By: Louis Gorenfeld
-=- DrumSyn -=-
It's not that Stomper is hard to use, but it is hard to get decent
sounds out of other than extremely deep bassdrums. After all, it was
made for bassdrums, and that's what it excels at. If you are looking
for an all- around drum machine synthesizer though, DrumSyn is it.
Now, I don't want to write a whole column slamming Stomper, because
I'm personally quite fond of it. It has charm and a sense of humor
(even though it can be annoying at times), can do pretty decent
oldschool synthesizer tones (which DrumSyn can't do worth anything
really), and features nearly unlimited oscillators. So with that in
mind, read on.
Ok, first the features: It's very easy not only to use but to get
sweet synth drum sounds out of. The interface is one-screen, and the
envelopes are graphical. This makes it easy to do sounds such as claps,
but harder to do complete groove loops. In the sound-generation area
there are three tone generators of various waveforms, one of which can
slide and two of which can be combined in different ways. As far as
noise goes, there are also three of those: One can do noises of various
colors, and two are settable by the exact frequency and width of noise.
In addition, there is a distortion setting that can distort by not only
over-amping but by bit and lowering the khz and time/pitch stretching
functions (smooth, too). As if that's not enough to make some awesome
drums, there is also a filter (also with a graphical envelope) that can
be set to either high or low pass. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to
be much resonance, if at all (I sure didn't notice anything).
Now for the complaints: The interface is a little annoying because
there is only one active or manipulatable envelope at a time. This
means that you either have to select with little arrows the one you want
to modify or click on the checkmark indicating that the oscillator is
currently selected (which also selects the envelope). My next complaint
is that the program does not show up on the taskbar and you cannot
switch to it with alt-tab. Finally, the last complaint is that it comes
with too many damn presets-- I like to tweak around for myself, dammit!
Rating : 4/4
Page : http://www.abel.co.uk/~maxim/drumsyn.htm
-=- FM Dreams -=-
This should set the record straight for those of you out there who
think that FM means Adlib (though this program can sound like that too).
FM Dreams is already one of my favorite synths-- it can do great basses,
ringy instruments such as vibes and marimbas and even very nice electric
If you are a softsynth novice, this probably isn't your cup of tea:
While in most virtual analog synths you can easily tell the effects of
your adjustments, FM synthesis is a lot less straightforward. It takes
a lot of fiddling around before you start to make connections between
what you change in the settings and what you change in the sound. This
synthesizer features four oscillators with a nice variety of waveforms
which can be combined in various ways with each other (add, fm or am).
The envelopes are graphical, though are extremely buggy (save often).
However, after an hour of playing around I had made several samples
that I am now very fond of. They lend a solid and smooth quality to any
piece you stick them into, and are a nice contrast to the usual harsh
synthy sounds that dominate many tracked compositions these days and
sound especially nice when both are used at the same time.
Those of you who were intimidated by Orangator will probably not want
to waste time with this. If you don't mind sitting down for a while and
fiddling with settings (and waiting for it to render can be slow), this
should be one of the more powerful tools in your electronic arsenal.
Rating : 3/4
Page : http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Campus/8645/fmdreams.html
The Zen of Tracking
Hearing the Mood
Whether or not you choose to look at it in a spiritual, or "mystical"
sense, we are all one. Every part of who you are has been heavily
influenced by other people, whether they be your parents, your heroes,
your friends, or just somebody who's style you've admired. It all comes
together and blends to form your unique style. Nothing is truly your
own. If you've ever heard a musician say that they cannot take full
credit for the music they make, that's what they mean. Many composers
"hear" the music they create, as if it's been echoing through the
atmosphere for generations, just waiting for somebody to percieve it,
and share it with others. That's how I "write", and I know for a fact
that I'm not alone.
So how do you "hear" the music? All it takes is an ounce of talent, a
shred of inspiration, and buckets of raw practice, and experience. True
artists search their souls for gems of wisdom and emotion. In order to
move people, they have to relate. Moods and chords bring up memories
and feelings from long ago. The music that I love is music that helps
me feel. In order to create music like that, you have to know your
heart. You have to understand the human spirit. Music is more than
theory and chords. Music is feeling. Music is a key to understanding
why we're here, and how we can become better people.
The First Step: Hearing the Mood
One of the simplest ways to hear a mood is to listen to music that
touches you. Pay attention to the sounds that have the most effect on
your emotions. Remember what it was that affected you, and try to
reproduce the effect in your own music. The next step is to capture
your own moods in completely original composition. Create a musical
journal of your moods. When you get upset, COMPOSE THE MOOD. When you
feel hurt, angry, happy, tired, in love, overwhealmed with joy, or
somewhere in between... compose the mood. Record it in music. Try to
do this every day. You don't have to compose a complete song if it
doesn't go anywhere, but try to compose a little bit every day. Record
your *feelings* for that day in music. Fairly soon, you should see a
catalogue of moods beginning to form. Hold on to them, and refer back
to them often. Later, you'll be able to mix and match complex sets of
emotion into a single, powerfull song.
One of the keys to zen mastery is the understanding that everything is
one. We are one people, experiencing one immortal life. Our ideas will
survive us long after our bodies have returned to the dust from which
they came. This is undeniably true, not just in a spiritual sense, but
in a tangible form. We leave behind us traces of ourselves... in the
hearts of our loved ones, in photo albums, on our recordings, sheet
music, and on our shelves. We never truly die, but the more you record
of your life, the more other people will learn from you, and in turn,
That's it for now,
Screen Lit Vertigo
Robomatix by Suspend (Final-version)
Found at ftp://demo.cat.hu
1st place at Astrosyn'99.
At least a p166, better a p233. 16 MB RAM, 5 MB HD. Gus or SB, Vesa2
(Some cards may need univbe 6.53 according to the .nfo)
Test Machine: PII 350 64MB SB16, Win98 in dos-mode (BOOTGUI = 0)
DOS: works OK with EMM & XMS.
Win98: doesn't work in a DOS-box, use "Restart to DOS".
This is a "heavy 3D" demo, almost no pictures or fullscreen 2D effects.
I'm not a fan of 3D-only, but here the 3D-scenes have a kind of theme
(not a story), which gives a demo more value, at least for me. It's
about machines, robots, blocks of ice with lights in it,... At the end
of each scene, we step through a door in the next one. This is a nice
way to make a link between two scenes. Greyscaled pictures are layered
over the 3D-scenes, nothing really special, together with some
philosophical text. Yes, Robomatix has a moral! (don't let it scare you
away :)). The final 3D-scene, during the greetings, has nothing to do
with the main part. Insects walking in trees, butterflies... Maybe they
were inspired by Antz or A bugs life (No I didn't saw them. I prefer the
real-time thing :)).
The first & the last part are not really music, rather a soundtrack of
the 3D-scene it follows. At the start, this means the sound of ice-cubes
bouncing between two planes, with lots of discord shrieks. To be honest,
it got on my nerves very quickly, and I was happy when the main tune
started. It has the same atmosphere, but is more melodic. There is no
real synchronizing, and at the end, it starts to bore me. I guess this
just isn't my style of music, although it does fit with the demo. At the
end, we hear bees buzzing or something like that. Quite ambient.
I really like this demo a lot, except two things: the music, and the
enormous amount of motionblur during the whole demo. Sometimes it's
difficult to recognize objects, and I think blur should only be used
when you need something special, for example an underwater scene or so.
The good points include the design and the original objects, like those
little one-wheeled vehicles driving on circular roads & the machine
which reminds me of Machines of Madness/Dubius. Overall, I think this
deserved to win Astrosyn'99, although I haven't checked all other
contributions. So go ahead and take a look at it.
Back on Track
What's New and What Could Be
We're finally back on track after a long break. Kosmic has gotten
their new server, and they have it set up properly (the hardest part was
probably dealing with their internet service provider). Many thanks to
Jim Nicholson for finally setting up this mailing list on the new server
and thanks to Draggy for providing all the information and files we
needed from the old mailing list.
Changes? There aren't many. If you have any feedback, you will
still need to send it me (email@example.com). If you have
feedback directed towards any of our staff in particular, please send
me a carbon copy as well so that I may post it in upcoming issues. The
listserv still works the same, though I make a new suggestion: If you
are going to be subscribing to the mailing list, please include your
e-mail address as part of the subscribe / unsubscribe commands. See
the closing for this information. We will now be releasing during the
first weekend of every month. This will logically make much more sense
for the subscribers as well as the writers. Hopefully this will help
us to maintain a good quality publication for your sake.
Finally, we still need subscribers and writers. If you have any
friends who are involved in the scene, ask them to subscribe. I feel
we have a lot of good information to offer almost anyone in the scene.
Many people can benefit from our magazine, and I think everyone should
have that opportunity. Also, if we have more subscribers, we may have
more columns in the future, and much more information for you. If you
would like to write for us, please send me an e-mail message about your
new column, or about a column that I have mentioned before. We still
need someone to do interviews, I would still like to have a partner for
In-Tune, and I would still like to have someone keep track of
demo-parties or competitions. Perhaps you have more ideas? Let's get
the ball rolling.
Sub Title <if applicable>
Editor: Coplan / D. Travis North / firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Editors: Ranger Rick / Ben Reed / email@example.com
Subliminal / Matt Friedly / firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Manager: Dilvish / Eric Hamilton / email@example.com
Columnists: Coplan / D. Travis North / firstname.lastname@example.org
Calvin French / email@example.com
Dilvish / Eric Hamilton / firstname.lastname@example.org
Louis Gorenfeld / email@example.com
Seven / Stefaan / Stefaan.VanNieuwenhuyze@rug.ac.be
Staff Writers: Acell / Jamie LeSouef / firstname.lastname@example.org
Darkheart / Zach Heitling / email@example.com
Psychic Symphony / firstname.lastname@example.org
Setec / Jesper Pederson / email@example.com
SiN / Ian Haskin / firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical Support: Draggy / Nicolas St. Pierre / email@example.com
Jim / Jim Nicholson / firstname.lastname@example.org
Static Line on the Web: http://www.ic.i7.net/statline
To subscribe to the Static Line mailing list, send an e-mail message
to "email@example.com" with "subscribe static_line <your e-mail>" in
the message text. You will then be asked to confirm your addition to the
mailing list. Expect a new issue during the first weekend of each
To unsubscribe from the mailing list, send an e-mail message to
"firstname.lastname@example.org" with "unsubscribe static_line <your e-mail>" in
the message text. Your subscription will then be removed.
If you would like to contribute an article to Static Line, be aware
that we will format your article with two spaces at the beginning and one
space at the end of each line. Please avoid foul language and high ascii
characters. Contributions should be mailed to Coplan
See you next month!