_\\__T_A_T_I_C___L_I_N_E______________________________________ October, 1999
\\//__ Monthly Music E-Zine _________________________________ 79 Subscribers
Table Of Contents
Message From the Editor
In Tune -- El Blanco's "BlackJack"
The Zen of Tracking -- The Spirit of Giving
Screen Lit Vertigo -- "Are You Satisfied?" by Domage
Call To Keyboards -- Are Tracking Unions Worth Much?
Advertisement -- Theralite's 100th Release
Message From the Editor
Hey all, another month, another issue. Aren't we dependable? =P
Meanwhile...we are missing a few people this month. Not a big deal,
because we still got 4 articles for you and a "heads-up" about
Theralite's 100th Release.
On the chopping block for this month is a review of El Blanco's
"BlackJack." It's an oldskool style of music that many of you will
appreciate...and the rest should learn to. =P Also, we have a demo
review of Domage's "Are you Satisfied?" See what Seven has to say about
that. Then, you have some more from our spiritual influence, Dilvish,
as he brings us another complete installment of "Zen of Tracking."
For the first time ever, I bring you "Call to Keyboards." It is an
experimental article series that may result in a regular column. It all
depends on how much you guys respond. If I get a few responses, great,
then I'll continue the column. If not...we'll try again next year. Get
typing folks...I know you have something to say.
El Blanco's "BlackJack"
By: Coplan and Setec
-=- Introduction -=-
I guess it would be my turn to fly solo this month, as Setec has
obligations with his fire control force.
Meanwhile, this month, we are reviewing a masterpeice from the computer
and mind of El Blanco, a tune called "BlackJack." It is a modern
interpretation of the old demo style songs. Take the time and read the
review, then take the time to download the song from either our site, or
the Chaos Theory site. As with anything reviewed here, it's worth a
download, so why not humor us.
-=- Coplan -=-
Those of you who like traditional demo styles of music (ironic how I
consider that a traditional style anymore), you will love this one.
Granted, there are a few things that separate it from the old
traditional styles, such as a larger file size, more than 8 channels and
instruments (as opposed to samples). However, it is definately
reminiscent of the classics.
There are a few things that characterize the old-skool sound. El
Blanco mentions a few in his song message, but here's my list (probably
not complete either, just my observations). The first is a mellow
opening; one without percussion, and one that lays tracks for the rest
of the song (no pun intended). Second: Funky leads and supporting
instruments. It was not uncommon to see trackers "rocking" their tempos
and speeds to achieve this effect. Third: Sensational and complex base
riffs that fill up the empty spaces. Sure, a real-time guitarist could
play these, but it would take a lot of practice. Fourth: A complete
drum kit, including snare, base drum, hihats, Tamborines and a crash
cymbol, all used frequently...very frequently. And finally, dramatic
transitions which would allow the coders to throw in all sorts of
effects (I don't know which idea came first). So, what does El Blanco
have to offer? His tune "BlackJack" fulfills my list.
First, let's look at the mellow opening. Right from the first order,
we know the general structure of the chord progression. We have all
higher pitched instruments (for now) which begins to throw the listener
into a trance. Well, not really, but it at least puts you in the mood.
Notice how the lead instrument fades into the song. It "slides" into
action, not abruptly, not dramatically. This is a mellow opening, so
quick changes aren't welcome here. Then, it fades out -- "sliding"
away once more. Now, the debut of some of the support instruments, such
as the base guitar and the acoustic guitar. Niether instrument has a
truly complicated part on its own, but combined with the other, we have
the art of a funky support team (a band if you will). Now, single out
the base...pretty funky eh? Single that out later in the song and
you'll see why I say it's a complicated base riff. Just keep in mind,
when I say a complicated base riff, I'm comparing it to the average
rock song where the base guitarist simply plays whole and half notes
along with the progression. Give this base guitar a tiny bit more
variation, and a louder part, and you could turn this into a lead
instrument. Something to try, kids.
Enter the percussion. Something I want to point out about the
percussion: It's not the focus of the song. It almost never is. BUT,
you can't neglect it. Every song with a drum set should have the
complete set. Even, as in the case of this song, if it doesn't require
truly realistic samples. So...what gives this percussion character?
For one, it's the tempo and speed "rocking" that I mentioned earlier
(and in previous reviews). For a truly funky song, you have to do one
of two things...the first is to set the speed really fast (two or three
times faster than you need) and track with two or three times as many
lines between down-beats. The second method, as demonstrated with this
song, is to "rock" the speed. In the case of "BlackJack", El Blanco
rocks the entire song between a speed of 5 and 7. One would think it
would average out to a speed of 6 (which in pure time, it does), but
think of it as the fact that every other beat is played slightly shorter
than the rest. That gives a skipping appearance of the song (whether
you listen or watch it). So...that's the secret behind the funky edge
to the tamborine (and the rest, but it's far easier to hear with the
tamborine which plays on almost every down and up beat). You'll also
notice that the snare doesn't just play a simple down beat every once in
a while...volumes are the secret there. That SHOULDN'T be a secret, but
I often see songs without volumes set on each and every hit of the
percussion. Cut the volume settings here, and you loose the feeling.
Support instruments are key to any song. As El Blanco plainly
demonstrates in order 10, they are also the key to any harmonization.
But that goes without saying. This harmony does a good job of adding to
the song, you may even get confused as to which is the lead. This is a
good way to lead into a chorus. This is a great chorus, too.
Now, about those transitions. Remember what I said about dramatic
transitions? Well, El Blanco has them too, though not nearly as
dramatic as I've seen. Order 12 is the set up (the tail end of our
chorus). The lead instrument gets a little lower in pitch, a little
lower, then it ends in a chord at the very beginning of order 13 -- fade
out. Everything else fades out too. For a few bars, all that remain
are the tamborine and those synth-chimes. Then, a snare riff to kick us
back onto the tracks. This is a very simplified version of the classic
transition scheme, and this is one of the best interpretations I've
seen. Study this transition, and study it well. You'll see it often in
this song, and you'll see it in everything from Bethoven to Dave
Matthew's Band. No secret here, I've said this in almost every review
I've ever done...so most of you should know this by now. But, it's
still good to point out as a reminder.
Next on the chopping block is my peeve of the song. Don't get me
wrong, I still like the song a lot, in light of the up coming piano
solo, but I think the song would've done better without it. Or,
perhaps a different sample here. With a piano solo, the character of
the song is put at a slight risk. It's a total biased of mine that all
instruments must support the character of the song...so I won't dwell
on this part much longer.
We have yet another transition, very similar to the last, at order 19
to 20. The same recipie is used: Fade out some instruments, cut out
some notes from the remaining instruments (simplification), and then
kick back in starting with the percussion. But, the difference in this
case is the use of a vocal sample -- or something that isn't
necessarily a normal instrument. In "BlackJack" El Blanco uses this
vocal sample of a guy saying "1...2...hit me..." In other songs, I've
seen anything from thunder, to an electricution sound to squealing
pigs. You could use anything in it's place, except an instrument used
often in the song. Another good trick to add to your transition
Now we have a good example of the typical song structure starting
with order 26. The average song has an opening (A), a chorus (B), an
interim period (C), a pre-warm-down (D) and the closing. The structure
would follow a "A, B, C, B, D, B, E," pattern, as it does in this song.
An "A, B, C, B, E" pattern is also very common. But, this song follows
the first pattern I mentioned. Order 26 begins the Pre-warm-down
period. This signals that the listener has to get ready to hear the
end of the song. After this part, a chorus will be played, and then
the closing. Why is this signal important? It provides the feeling of
completion. Even in the most basic song, the listener must feel as
though the song is complete. There is a song by Pink Floyd that simply
ends by the singer singing "Time is up, the song is over, thought I'd
have something more to say..." and then the song essentially ends.
This is what I call a dropped ending. And that is the only thing I
dislike about that particular song...it doesn't seem complete. But,
not the case with "BlackJack." We know it's complete now...the artist
has signaled us that he's going to end soon. How does one do this? Do
as El Blanco does. With the lead instrument, play a tune that has the
same structure but different tonal quality as another part in the song
(perhaps the interim part). The support instruments signal that it's
still the same song, so don't worry about getting lost. But the lead
instrument must be completely different. Then, the chorus, and the
Just a warning about the closing. El Blanco chooses to do the
fade-out technique. It fits, but if this song were written for a demo
that had a closing song to come after this, it wouldn't work. Needless
to say, it would leave a blank spot in the demo -- which is
unfavorable. If your song will close the demo, though, fade. It's the
best way in many cases.
So, go grab the tune. Grab it for learning purposes, grab it for
nostalgia. Find a reason. If you download from our site, grab some
past reviews too. These supplimental songs are only posted on our
server for a few months, then they're taken off. So grab them as soon
as you can.
Author: El Blanco
Filename (zipped/unzipped): ct-blkjk.zip / blackj.it (IT 2.14)
File Size (zipped/unzipped): 971 kb / 1.1 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 and Setec'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!
The Zen of Tracking
The Spirit of Sharing
I've been thinking a lot lately about shortage. There is a lot of
shortage in this world. Nobody ever has enough money, or enough time,
or enough gear, or enough inspiration. There seems to be a shortage of
Did you and your friends ever get together and pool your money when
you were younger to buy something you could all enjoy? Alone, you had
enough money for some candy, but together, you had enough to buy a
Nintendo game, or a football, or a baseball bat.
Today's society has perverted our thought patterns. Greed, envy, and
mis-trust has infiltrated even otherwise good people almost to the core.
The spirit of sharing and unity has deserted us. More accurately, we
have deserted it.
When was the last time you had a BBQ with the neighbors? I'm sure
there are probably many of you who don't even know the names of your
next-door neighbors. Have we forgotten how much more we seem to have
when we pool our resources? The more we give, the more we get. It's
the law of abundance. It's all around you.
Here is an experiment you can try the next time you eat at
McDonnald's with some friends: Instead of hoarding all your french fries
to yourself, have everybody dump their fries into a big pile in the
middle of the table. You'll be surprised at how big the pile gets.
Plenty for everyone.
When you give, you recieve. If you can't give for selfless reasons,
start out giving for selfish reasons. Give knowing that it will come
back to you, and before long, the spirit of sharing will return to you.
Your giving will become sincere, and you'll be one step closer to
enlightenment, and the closer you get to enlightenment, the more you
see, understand, comprehend, and feel. And the more that happens, the
better your music will become.
Isn't that what life is all about for us? Making good music? That's
just another form of sharing. See? You're half way there already.
Screen Lit Vertigo
"Are You Satisfied?" by Domage (party version)
Found at www.scene.org
1st place at Bizarre'99
Pentium class CPU, GUS or SB, VESA2 gfx-card
3MB HD, 64 MB RAM
Test Machine: PII 350 64MB SB16, Win98 in dos-mode (BOOTGUI = 0)
DOS: ! Loading is very slow, so make sure you have smartdrv installed
XMS: Works OK
EMM: crashes :( (Might be due to smartdrive).
Windows: Works OK, but info-file warns that it might be unstable.
"Are you satisfied" by Domage is a pretty "standard" demo, no story or
real theme. It reminds me of MTV-clips, both in the good syncing with
the music and the amount of girlie-pictures. The effects are rather
standard: snow, radial blur, plasmas, free direction tunnels etc. Very
few 3D in here, only two 3-objects: metaballs with motionblur, and a
strange morphing object with flares attached to the surface. It looks
nice, but is very slow (framerate-wise). Because the effects does not
hold your attention for more than a few seconds, Ligne & Diurne (yes,
made by only two people) have added other things to watch. First there
are the lyrics of the song, that are scrolling all through the demo in
different directions, and second, almost every screen has a photoshopped
picture of a girl as foreground or background. I don't really like that
because you can't show the demo to some non-scener without giving the
impression that all sceners are sexually frustrated nerds. But it's
almost a tradition, and here the pics fit more or less with the "Are You
Satisfied" theme. There is one short grayscale clip of a DJ scratching
an LP, that looks ugly here. The rest of the demo is very smooth, with
much anti-aliasing and blur, and the 2*3 pixels of the clip are just too
IMHO, the best thing of this demo is the music. It starts a bit
strange, with a high shriek and some static noise panning from left to
right, as the soundeffect for the TV-snow at the start of the demo. Then
the main tune comes in, something between dnb and electronic rock. It
has a very nice, catchy baseline, and makes massive use of
voice-samples. It makes the tune almost like something you could hear on
the radio. The main "are you satisfied" theme is broken a few times by
breaks or a second, slightly dissonant theme with a voice sample I can't
understand completely (ends with ..."nothing at all"). It ends with
another high note on an electrical guitar that is sustained too long in
my opinion (hurts my ears) before releasing it. Synchronizing starts
very good, for example at the title screen: radial blur appearing at the
beats, but it degrades to the normal "new demo-part at significant
The overall style reminds me of Superstition, like the layer with
the molecule-raster and the tunnels, while the female overkill might be
inspired by the success of Cod Liver Oil/Damones (2nd at ASM99). The
code is not very special, but it's worth checking out for the music, and
the design is OK (no major errors except that clip). And if you don't
object to some good-looking girls in demos, you'll probably like this
Crackhead Trackhead (Humor)
The Scene Education Forum
Call to Keyboards
Are Tracking Unions Worth Much?
-=- Introduction -=-
Okay, this is sort of a new idea. If this works out, then it may
become a semi regular column. The idea for this possible column comes
from two things. First, this is a journel of sorts. Not only are we
here because we like to be, but we're here to bring information to you.
However, not everyone has enough to say to write a full article. This
leads into the second thing: You, the readers of Static Line, have
opinions. If prompted, I have a feeling you'll want to share them for
the benefit of the rest of us. You've seen our opinions with music,
programs, demos and what-not. Now, let everyone see yours.
Here's how this is going to work. Each of these articles will have a
topic. I'll get you started on my views, and then you can reply with
your views. It's similar to a talk show. If all goes well, and this
column continues -- then it may end up in two parts each week: The
responses from the previous week, and the next topic. To share your
views, reply to me: Coplan (firstname.lastname@example.org). Now onto this month's
-=- Are Tracking Unions Worth Much? -=-
First of all, what do I mean by Tracking Unions? These are the web
pages such as Trax-In-Space (http://www.traxinspace.com) or United
Trackers (http://www.united-trackers.org). In theory, the biggest
advantage to these "union websites" is that you can simply display your
music. You can even get your music reviewed by your peers. Internet
Music Monitor (http://www.cyberverse.com/~boris/IMM2) and many others
also support such features, but handled in a different manner.
I have heard many people complain that such "Unions" are a "breeding
ground for bad music," or "lamers helping lamers." I've also heard many
comparisons to the classic (and ever famous) Hornet Archive. Now, let's
be honest. First of all, most of the people who activly dislike such
unions are tend to be "oldskoolers," or the guys who have "been there
and done that." I can claim to be such an oldskooler anymore, though
not as old as some. Back when I joined the scene, all that existed was
the Hornet Archive. The number of trackers was about a quarter what it
is today (if that). The number of experienced trackers was even less.
But what about today? Where can new trackers get recognition, or any
feedback at all? Such places as Trax-In-Space or United Trackers.
What about the feedback though? Hornet simply had a rating system,
and maybe a comment here or there when the could keep up. Internet
Music Monitor (IMM) has a small volunteer staff to review tunes, as
does Trax-In-Space (I gotta be honest, I am not familiar with United
Trackers). But is it worth it? In some cases, especially where quality
is enforced. Last I knew, IMM made requirements on how well a song was
reviewed. Fairly good quality reviews. Trax-In-Space? I've gotten
some poor reviews, but keep in mind -- I've "been there and done that."
At my stage in tracking, "I like this part, dislike that part, key
changes would be nice..." doesn't help me much. I need technical data.
But what about the new trackers? It can help.
So, my opinion? For the starters out there, the unions are somewhat
helpful, and worthwhile. At least you have a place to hang your hat.
For the oldskoolers: If you're any good, people will know where to find
your music. If not, you're best to send it to someone you can trust to
give you a good review. But I wouldn't depend on your peers to give you
what you need. It's your job to find a reviewer.
Your opinions? Let's hear them. What experiences have you had with
such unions, and what is your general view of such organizations? Is it
Send your mail to: email@example.com
Theralite's 100th release
Theralite has made their 100th release:
"There goes the neigbourhood!"
(a music disk)
Music By: Smash
Code By: Whizzter and Razor1911
GFX By: TMK, Inferno, Flood, Markus, Argus, Xhale, Filter and Orome
There are 8 acid-jazz / funk tracks in this 7 MB musicdisk. Check it
-=- Editor's Note -=-
You too can advertise milestones and happenings of your group. Only
non-profit organizations may advertise for non-profit reasons. For
information, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Calvin French / firstname.lastname@example.org
Dilvish / Eric Hamilton / email@example.com
Louis Gorenfeld / firstname.lastname@example.org
Seven / Stefaan / Stefaan.VanNieuwenhuyze@rug.ac.be
Virt / email@example.com
Staff Writers: Acell / Jamie LeSouef / firstname.lastname@example.org
Darkheart / Zach Heitling / email@example.com
Setec / Jesper Pederson / firstname.lastname@example.org
SiN / Ian Haskin / email@example.com
Technical Support: Draggy / Nicolas St. Pierre / firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim / Jim Nicholson / email@example.com
Static Line on the Web: http://www.ic.l7.net/statline
To subscribe to the Static Line mailing list, send an e-mail message
to "firstname.lastname@example.org" 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
"email@example.com" 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!