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_\\__T_A_T_I_C___L_I_N_E_____________________________________ September, 1999
\\//__ Monthly Music E-Zine __________________________________ 85 Subscribers

  Table Of Contents
           Message From the Editor
           Letters From Our Readers
           The Zen of Tracking -- The Hidden Power in Creative Blocks
           Screen Lit Vertigo -- "Solids of Revolution"
                                 by the Alpha Millenium Crew (party-version)
           Call to Keyboards -- Wrapup: MP3 vs. MOD
                                New Topic: "Spread the word" or "Keep it
                                in the family"
           Sodium Spray -- The intro Server

  Message From the Editor
     Wow, even though we're lacking a few columns, this is a big issue.
  Thanks to all that have been getting involved in my new column -- Call
  to Keyboards.  It's really great to have our own little debate here in
  this magazine.  We're growing, and it's thanks to all of you guys.

     Unfortunately, there is no song review this week.  Tough times yield for
  drastic measures.  In case anyone cares, I am starting a new job in
  three weeks, and I have several projects at my old job that I am
  expected to finish up.  Essentially, I got 5 weeks of work in 3 weeks.
  I'm also moving back to Philadelphia over the next few weeks.  So, I'm
  up to my head.  But, I still bring you Static Line.

     What's new?  Well, SeaEye of Immortal Coil has helped me to create a new
  website for Static Line.  It is still in the works, but should be in
  order over the next few weeks.  Stop by in a few weeks to check it out.

  Well, I gotta get this posted, and get back to work.  So I will let the
  table of contents speak for itself.

  See you in 2000!

  Letters From Our Readers
  -=- Letter from Puolikuu -=-
  ] of staticlines 13-15 [
  Bizarre'99 (#13)

     Seven's partyreport reminded, that the sceners probably all around
  the world have one thing experienced or to experience in common:
  demoparty. Good partyreports remind me of the times I've been to a
  party, which is nice by itself but leads me to thinking we're really
  _sharing_ something here, be it a "community", or a magnificent
  manifesto of the Great Spirit of Art itself or just a detail of this
  world. Fun anyway.

  [quote from #14's In Tune]
  > 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

     I personally think that the lyrical content of that song gives the
  feeling of completedness (ugh), or maybe the lack of it and the power
  of this words (over me that is) just hits me.

     Don't have the album for reference here.. and can't remember the song
  very well, it's on Dark Side of the Moon anyway, isn't it?

  [Late entry for "Call to Keyboards (Re: Tracking Unions)
     I agree with Seven.. feedback for feedback, it's a strange matter, but
  we all need motivation, and with this free scene society (which includes
  not getting paid) moral support, inspiration and guidance are what we've
  got to give.

     Anyway, sending feedback on an article sounds unprobable, as it seems
  that even for a module feedback, if any, comes from people you
  personally know, or if you ask it. Or me. ;-) Well, at least I try to
  inform people I've heard their stuff and if something came to my mind
  while listening to it. And yup, those tracking unions sound quite good,
  but I hit an annoying obstacle with Trax in space myself - "Puolikuu
  already exists in TiS". Make room for identity crisis..

                --Puolikuu / tempo'pkbrp

  -=> Reply from Coplan:
     Good to hear from you again, Puolikuu.  I like your view of the
  demoscene.  I think it's good to think of the entire scene as a family,
  or a piece in the big celebration of art.  When people look back, the
  scene used to be considered a musical underground of sorts.  But, I
  think that anymore, that doesn't apply -- and if people continue to look
  at it that way, they may not get what they intend to out of the scene.

     The Pink Floyd song?  You are correct, that is from the Dark Side of the
  Moon Album.  All you people out there that havn't heard it yet, you
  might want to go pick up a copy -- it's worth it.


  The Zen of Tracking
     The Hidden Power in Creative Blocks
  By:  Dilvish
     The world around you is all inside you.  Your experiences of taste,
  touch, smell, and hearing are all electrical and chemical responses that
  take place inside your mind.  Everything around you is a product of your
  imagining.  The images you see are your constructed version of reality -
  they are patterns that you created, given only an input of various light
  frequencies, mixing and interacting in much the same way that sound
  waves mix and interact to form music.

     Any time you perceive something beautiful - you are perceiving the
  beauty in you - your response to a bunch of light or sound stimulus.
  When you see something ugly in the world around you, the "ugliness" in
  it is merely the negative response that you construct for it.  It is
  merely ugliness in you.

     Have you ever tried to shut off your mind?  To stop it from thinking?
  To stop images from flashing through your head, or sounds from echoing
  through your consciousness?  It may sound simple enough, but it really
  is not a very simple task.  The moment you think you've done it, you
  realize that in thinking you've accomplished your goal, that, in itself
  is a thought.  And when you delve even deeper, and manage to quiet your
  mind, you might become aware that the emptiness you have achieved is
  "something" in itself - and your mind is not truly empty.

     Your creativity is so overwhelming, it is quite impossible to silence
  it - even if you don't consider yourself a creative person.  A creative
  block is actually a wonderful thing... creative blocks are the potential
  for creative streaks.  It is when you hit the limits of your dreams and
  imagination that you break the limits, and truly grow.

     The silence and emptiness of a creative block should be understood, and
  treasured.  In it, you will find that you are more than a musician -
  more than an artist, or a person merely "doing" something.  You are
  alive, and growing.  It is affirmation that there is life after creative

     At those times, you might find an opportunity to develop your manual
  skills, or your grasp of chord theory.  When your mind is empty of fresh
  ideas, it may be a very good time to go over your scales and your
  exercises, and develop your ability to play the music effortlessly when
  the music returns to you.

     In doing so, you develop a trait known to the Chinese sage as wu wei -
  doing without doing.  It is the state you reach when you have practiced
  and polished your skills to the point that it is absolutely effortless.
  You no longer have to concentrate on what notes you play, or how your
  fingers move across the strings or keys - they simply move themselves in
  perfect time with your will and emotion.

     That is what they mean when they say "he does not act, but through him,
  all things are accomplished". Non-action does not mean non-doing.. it
  means doing without doing - knowing without knowing.  Development of
  your skills and your talents to the point that they become automatic.

     Creativity, too becomes a matter of wu wei eventually. When you
  encounter those "creative blocks", and you are empty of ideas - if you
  have properly trained your body - you will find yourself with the
  ability while in this state of emptiness to sit down at your instrument,
  and begin to play, without planning it out - without hearing it in
  advance - the sounds just spring into being through you.  They are
  instantly transformed from the Potential of Emptiness, to Manifestations
  in Music.  It is in these states that the best songs are written.

     Let that creep into your head the next time you encounter a creative


  P.S.  If you find my ideas interesting, and want to learn more about my
  philosophy, feel free to visit "the philosophy of One".  There you'll
  find introspective poetry, links to enlightening books, and various
  articles about how to see more in the world than your average Joe:

  Screen Lit Vertigo
     "Solids of Revolution" by the Alpha Millenium Crew (party-version)
  By:  Seven
  Found at
  2nd place at Dreamhack'99 non-accelerated

  System requirements:
     Nothing mentioned, but I think the power of the CPU is more important
  than the amount of memory. Something like a PII with 16 MB of mem. And
  remember to unzip with winzip, for the long filenames, as this is a
  Win9x demo 7.5 MB HD

  Test Machine: PII 350 64MB SB16, Win98

  The demo:
     I quote the info-file: "This demo was made in an effort to combine
  studies and scene-life, and represents the near impossibility to do so."
  And, to be honest, this is indeed a very unfinished production :) First
  you can choose to see it in full-screen DirectX, a window or
  double-sized window. You have to press a, b or c, the buttons on the
  screen does not work. Then it starts with two scrolling backgrounds in
  space, with the title, "Dreamhack'99" and such things.

     It looks good, but it's interrupted by reading from the harddisk, and
  by a static picture that looks like some control-screen from a nuclear
  reactor. Then a text tells about Tellius IV, a planet that's the final
  refuge of humankind. The camera zooms in on the planet, from which a
  small spaceship escapes, seconds before the planet explodes. At first I
  didn't understand much of this story, but when I took a look at the
  pictures in the data-directory, things got clearer. There are several
  versions of the reactor-control screen, each one giving more alarming
  messages. But alas, due some bug the first one is show multiple times.
  You can find also some pics from a missing part, where the shuttle takes
  of from it's base (the reactor?).

     Anyway, the demo continues with the shuttle flying between asteroids
  and stars. At this point the story is given up, because the following
  parts are just unconnected effects. In addition, the music changes from
  a dark, symphonic tune with military-style drums to a happy-go-lucky
  demotune with funky synths and bells. Not exactly the kind of music you
  associate with the end of the world :) The effects include a standard
  tunnel, a picture of a green-haired girl with motion-blurred particles
  over it, some polar effects and the good old vectorball-snake, this time
  with transparent globes. Of course there's some 3D too, like a kind of
  ball with flares hovering over an infinite checkerboard, but the engine
  seems to have problems with finding the edges of the polys, so you can
  see ugly scars here and there. The backgrounds and the logos look quite
  good and colorful, they are mostly photoshopped but we know that
  pixelers are hard to recruit nowadays :-/ The demo ends rather suddenly,
  with a short and repeating upscroll.

     Another quote from the info-file: "It is, however, our first demo and
  we hope it will not prove too embarrassing in the future." I'm afraid
  that a first production is almost always embarrassing when you look back
  on it, except when you never improve your skills :) And there's indeed a
  lot of room to improve: optimizing the code, fixing the 3d-engine's
  edge-bug, improving the timing for the windowed view (which is not
  really enjoyable now :( ), removing unused files from the data-directory
  (the music is included zipped and unzipped, the pictures), and writing a
  loader for pictures with random dimensions (a 320*200 pcx-file for a
  10*10 particle is quite a waste). But of course there are already some
  good points too. The music and the pictures are more then enjoyable, and
  there are some original design-touches, like the zooming and rotating
  ring of circles. I hope that the final will fix most of the bugs, those
  are probably the result from lack of time.


  Call to Keyboards
    Wrapup:  MP3 vs. MOD
    New Topic: "Spread the word" or "Keep it in the family?"
  By: Coplan
  -=- Introduction -=-
  Ooo, I think I hit a soft spot.  I got a lot of response to this one,
  almost within a few hours of publication.  I have three replys that I
  think you all should check out.  I've reformated this colum slightly --
  but only in the way that I respond AFTER the letters now.  I think it'll
  make more sense.  For my response look for "What do I think:" after all
  the letters.

  -=- Wrap Up -=-

  Steve Gilmore's Reply:
     As ever, a very good Static Line just thudded into my mailbox, and here
  I am typing away on a subject I seem to have been discussing for at
  least a year.  I tend to hang out mainly on the MOD newsgroups, MODplug
  and United Trackers forums and - on the odd occasion - on the myriad
  #trax-a-likes on IRC.  In short, I get around.  Maybe not as much as
  some sceners, but I'm not as able as some sceners...

     Anyways, the MP3 vs MOD argument has been a-wailing and a-shreiking away
  in these places for all this time, all to absolutely no avail.  MP3 is
  here to stay folks, shun it at your peril!

     Pretty much everyone I've spoken to who tracks all say the same thing.
  They may release MP3's where necessary or release in *both* formats.  I
  am not, let it be said, talking about 400k MODs here.  Although if you
  have a 400k track that you can tweak with DSP and release as an MP3 -
  why not?  If you are releasing for an audience, you surely *have to*
  try and reach as great a number as possible.

  I am making larger MODs now, simply because the technology is much
  greater. I'm also releasing on MP3 to catch that bigger audience out
  there blissfully unaware of the scene and it's talent.  Why, because I'm
  a raving egomanic (yep..hee hee)  Actually, no.  Because having spent
  the last 10 years totally immersed in the MOD culture, I want to spread
  the word as far as possible.   This is a wonderful scene we have here.
  Sure, it's not particularly happening in some sectors, but in others its
  positively bursting at the seams.  And the talent around cannot be

  Grasp the nettle of MP3, it could be this scene's next big step - at
  least as far as the musical side of tracking goes..

  I have a general question for all readers of Static Line, just as a
  mental exercise.  How many trackers are there on  I know some
  are, because I know them.  I know some are because I know of their work.
  There are probably loads more.  Why then is there no 'MOD' category on  And why are trackers not making themselves known on the MP3
  forums?  I'm sure a MOD thread would attract some attention.  These are
  busy boards....

  Keep up the good work on the 'zine....

             --Steve Gilmore

  Wayfinder's Reply:
     I don't like it when people make an mp3 out of a module just because
  they don't want their samples ripped. I guess that's because i frankly
  don't care if anybody uses my samples or not - if anything, i feel proud
  when i notice it. I don't go looking in others' modules for unmarked
  ripped samples ("No source on samples #13, #14 and #21.. got that
  written down officer?") and I don't exspect anybody does. I seldomly
  give credits to where I got the sample from (well, I don't rip a lot
  anymore, I do have certain sample quality standards that sample CDs
  often meet and ripped samples often don't) and if somebody uses a sample
  I made, well, fine for them.. as long as they don't rip my songs, I
  won't complain. Sample ripping is IMHO not really a valid point. I
  mean.. it's just samples! The file size thing was the reason for my
  (few) mp3 releases. But it's not like I wouldn't give out the tracked
  file if someone asked me. Plus I got all the benefits of not having to
  tell non-scene people a) what Impulse Tracker is and b) that WinAmp is
  not cool to play the tunes in, and c) where they can get IT ("What? A
  DOS program?!") or sonique to play the file right (doesn't always work
  since sonique isn't perfect either). Also, you'd be surprised at the
  amount of "sceners" (especially in europe) who refuse to install IT on
  their hd or listen to .ITs, or those with totally outdated versions. My
  guess is that out of 10 random sceners only 5 hear the .IT as it's
  supposed to sound. When I release an mp3, it's all of them. It's
  different with ft2, granted, cause there's better support for it in
  winamp (and everybody has winamp)

     Promotion to non sceners.. well, promote to non-sceners as much as you
  can ;) I guess they'll be more receptive when you don't tell them to get
  another piece of playback software when they already have a media
  player, AND winamp. Honestly, telling someone (over IRC possibly) how to
  download, install and properly configure a tracker and how to play a
  song with it is not what I want to do in my free time (that's one thing
  Coplan didn't mention - when they agree to download a player, you're
  stuck with them :D). I rather give out an mp3 that they can just
  doubleclick on. Less stress for me and them. When it's possible, I try
  to release both tracked file and mp3, but with a 4 meg .IT and a 4 meg
  MP3, i'll only release one, and now take a guess which. MP3 releases
  will become inevitable for me, since I have rising standards in sample
  quality (-> size) and something that hasn't been mentioned in your
  article: I wave write the single tracks (or better: instruments),
  process them with fx etc and assemble them in a multitracker, forming a
  .WAV file that is noticably different from a "clean" diskwrite of the
  song. Post-processing will become the main reason for mp3 releases after
  a while, but for now it's file size first for most people.

  >     Non-scene exposure?  Call me stubborn, but if anyone wants to listen
  >  to scene music, they're either in the scene, or should be. And if

     Uhm, no. That's a stupid statement. What about the neighbour who got
  internet access this week? What about your relatives in france who want
  to hear what you did? What about your friends, people who like your
  music but have nothing to do with the scene otherwise? People who don't
  even know that there IS a scene and just like your music? What about
  game developers you accidently meet online? (ok, so that's not exactly
  representative ;) What about the record labels (maybe you'd be using a
  CD there, but it's the same principle..)?

     Please excuse my long-wound sentences.

                --Sebastian (Wayfinder/KFMF/Vacuum)

  Mikpos' Reply:
     Hey, mikpos' keyboard here.  A lot of people seem to think that
  distributing tracks in tracked formats will keep alive that warm, fuzzy
  scene feel.  I'm of the people that think that the scene is in the
  intensive care unit right now, and in fact has only a marginal chance of
  survival.  The death of the BBS scene (before any BBS sysops flame, let
  me say -- if you're still running a local BBS: cool!  if only there were
  more like you), the death of, the death of Hornet Archives, and
  perhaps more than anything else, the "retirement" of most of the old
  skoolers seem to point to the death of the scene. is
  fantastic (traxinspace is quite a different matter, though), and I hope
  it stays alive, but it's just not quite enough.  Real demogroups (the
  kind where you could talk to you coder face to face!) are being replaced
  by "cyber" demogroups and tracking unions.  Newbies are coming on the
  scene (it seems at an alarmingly low rate) without any sense of the
  history of the scene...we can't fully rely on them to inherit the scene
  when they've never fully experienced it.

     I think it's fairly well accepted that the biggest (if not the only)
  problem killing off the scene is the globalization of the scene; or
  rather, the de-localization of it.  Frankly, if you're one of those
  that's going down with the figurative ship, fighting tooth and nail to
  keep the scene feel alive, then I don't think there's anyone that can
  criticise your motives.  But the file format songs are distributed in is
  such a tiny detail that it certainly can't be expected to do much.  The
  methodology of the scene (and consequently distribution) is the problem.
  The Internet was fine for the scene at the beginning -- suddenly I could
  get Skaven releases within hours of their release, not weeks (speaking
  from a small-city North American perspective).  The Internet and the
  scene do not need to be mutually exclusive, but some effort needs to be
  exerted to recreate the local scene. As is with most industries
  (especially technical ones), the explosion of the Internet has changed
  it too fast.

     We have to remember that the SID and MOD formats, and all their
  descendents, were created for practical purposes.  MP3 now is more
  practical than tracked formats in some aspects: it can be smaller; it
  plays roughly the same on all players; it can be streamed;
  post-processing can be applied.  Tracked formats also still have quite a
  number advantages: they're usually smaller; coding a player is
  relatively simple; wavetable cards can be used; they can act as a
  learning tool -- the pattern and sample data is there in the open; and
  they can be synced easily in games and demos.  The last reason I think
  is reason enough for the tracked formats to survive in one form or
  another. You have to remember that tracked formats were almost
  exclusively written for games, demos and cracktros in their infancy.
  The scene has changed tremendously in five years, and the number of
  musicians is way out of proportion relative to the numbers of coders and
  visual artists.  Every demo would have to have dozens of songs and every
  game would have to be cracked hundreds of times in order for all of
  these songs to be "put to use".  If people aren't writing songs for
  demos, they're probably writing them to be listened to.  If that's the
  case, the major advantage of tracked music is no more.  This isn't
  necessarily a bad thing; it's just the way things go.  If you think it's
  a problem, changing your file format probably won't help things much.

     The MP3 format makes sense in a lot of cases where the sole purpose of
  the song is for background listening.  Tracked formats make sense where
  syncing (or small filesizes) are important.  Using IT instead of MP3
  WILL NOT save the scene.  Ever.  If you want to save the scene, find
  some sceners in your area, buy some beer, and have some fun.  That guy
  that sits beside in class has a C64?  Your neighbour's kid is learning
  Pascal?  Go to his house, whip up some dancing vector balls, and write
  some horrible music to go with it. Distribute the source on your local
  BBS.  You may not be pulling out a couple thousand polys a second; you
  may be considered the lamest person in the tri-state area; you
  definitely won't win anything at any prestigious Scandanavian
  demoparties; graphic rumours will start about you and your new "friend"
  having wild gay butt sex.  If memory serves, that's what the scene's all
  about.  If you even get one laugh out of it, it'll be far more rewarding
  than posting your MP3s on your website.


  What do I think:
     Well, I got to be honest...I'm stubborn.  I am still a big fan of the
  MOD based formats (MOD, XM, IT, etc), and though I'm a little more
  accepting of the MP3 format, I guess I'm still not happy with its
  presence -- at least not in the methodology that many trackers use it

     But, I'm one of those guys "going down with the figurative ship," as
  Mikpos would say.  So, I guess I really don't have any choice but to
  accept it as best as I can.  One thing I'm still steadfast with --
  release for size and expansion -- not to protect your samples.

     Now, onto the new topic.

  -=- New Topic:  "Spread the word" or "Keep it in the family?" -=-
     Okay, this topic is derrived from your responses to the MP3 vs. MOD
  topic.  What the hell do I mean?  First, let me explain the topic, then
  I'll share my views.

     Spread the word:  There is the belief that people need to expand their
  listening audience -- and the release through formats such as MP3 can
  help this.  To save the scene ('cause it growing weak), one must spread
  the word to non-sceners.

     Keep it in the Family:  The demoscene is MOD music and hardcore code!
  Anyone outside the scene can listen, but they just won't understand.
  Therefore, many believe that the old purist approach (MOD formats) are
  the best where possible, and could care less if its easy for the

     What I am about to say probably wouldn't come from my mouth a month ago.
  I'll admit, the feedback from many of you has swayed my opinions about
  this.  First, let me say that the scene is, in fact, in trouble.  Maybe
  not nearly as much as one would think, but it is in trouble.  I sit here
  and think about the times of old, when I first got into tracking.  I got
  into tracking before I had internet access.  I was some BBS visitor and
  I happened to download a Necros Tune ("Ice River").  I was hooked.  So,
  then I strived to find out more about the format, and a tracker was

     Well, apparently, it isn't like that anymore.  The scene is much
  more accessible to non-sceners these days.  We have people coming in by
  the hundreds, and oldskoolers going out the same door.  But why?  The
  concept is still the same -- someone discovers the scene and becomes a
  part of the scene.  "Lamer" is the term given to a new preson in the
  scene.  Just because they can't track now, doesn't mean they can't track
  later.  And contrary to popular belief, there isn't a higher ratio of
  lamers to experienced trackers.  We're not getting over-run, there's
  plenty of room.  The fact that they're coming in by the hundreds is a
  good thing.  The more people that try it, the more will stick around.  I
  will still make an effort to help those who want many else will.
  As they become more active, the scene become more healthy.  More
  resources, more servers, more communication.  More feedback!  The scene

     But Guess what?!?  Your best friend's little sister doesn't know about
  the scene until she gets to taste it.  How will she taste it?  Well,
  hopfully, she'll download a mod player and play a tune she downloads.
  But lets be real here.  Out of 100 computers, I would say maybe 15 of
  them have a mod player installed.  But maybe 85 of them have MP3 players
  installed (it's a big fad right now, I might even be low in my guess).
  Well, guess what?  She's more likely to download the MP3.

     So, this brings me to the final answer.  I say "Spread the Word!"  The
  scene needs help.  Who knows...maybe the guy that downloads one of your
  tunes gets so involved in the scene that he'll offer a huge network
  system just for the scene (if you're that type of person, drop me a
  message, we'll talk -- I'll manage the system).  Imagine what that could
  do to the scene!  I'm talking the next Hornet here.  But that person has
  to get hooked on the scene first.

     The scene isn't dead -- but we gotta send up the signal flares.

     You're opinions here, please.



    Sodium Spray
  By: Coplan
  From: "frank studhel" <>

     Sodium Spray is a new intros server serving
  exclusively 4kb and 64kb entries which have
  already been submitted to demoparties.
  Currently you can chose to download over
  200 of the latest intros, with just 1 click.

     Thank you.

                --Zilco/Sodium Spray

  Editor:             Coplan / D. Travis North /
  Assistant Editor:   Subliminal / Matt Friedly /
  Web Manager:        Dilvish / Eric Hamilton /
  Columnists:         Coplan / D. Travis North /
                       Dilvish / Eric Hamilton /
                       Seven / Stefaan /
                       Virt /
  Staff Writers:      Louis Gorenfeld /
                       Setec / Jesper Pederson /
                       SiN / Ian Haskin /
  Technical Support:  Draggy / Nicolas St. Pierre /
                       Jim / Jim Nicholson /

  Static Line on the Web:

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