Good Scener, Bad Scener

Written by Wavemaker

I was quite surprised when I read Makke's article "Good tracker, Bad tracker" in Hugi #14. You rarely find people concerned about such things in today's scene. Four-channel music is often seen as a mere oddity from the past; after all, in the old days you were forced to use only these channels, a long gone limitation nowadays even on the Amiga. Why should we restrict ourselves?

As Makke cleverly stated, you only show what you're capable of when you're limited in some way. Everyone can make cool multichannel music with large 16 bit samples etc., but when you ask them to compose something in 4 channels they will either tell you it's "too difficult" or that 4ch is limiting and outdated. As someone wrote in another article, the scene is losing its technical side, everyone just wants to make things cool and easy, and to care only for the result and not for how it's achieved isn't very scenish I think.

Let's go back to trackers. Have you ever listened to, say, a 60 kb funk tune by Moby? Or a doskpop masterpiece by Mantronix? Now try loading any of these on your tracker and look at how effects are used and how samples are optimized. Needless to say, you won't find any unused or unneeded samples. Loops are frequently used even in samples which usually don't have them, for the purpose of making the sound gently fade away rather than suddenly stop. Other techniques like the clever use of commands to enlighten dull sounding samples are nowadays restricted to chip music. Tracking techniques are lost! Not only that but even the melodies on these old tunes are a lot above today's standards. What happened?

I also read a similar article on Hugi #14, but this one was about demo coding. You see, in the scene I knew coders, graphicians, coders and musicians weren't that different. Everything was a matter of optimizing, be it your code to eat a few cycles less, your tune to fit in that 64kb intro, your logo to use only 32 colours. Nowadays we are no longer limited in those ways, but I still think those techniques are necessary. Why?

A scener is someone capable of getting the most out of the computer. If you, for example, start painting in Photoshop, you will probably get nowhere as a graphician. That's because if you don't learn the techniques involved in pixelling, and thus getting the most out of a limited environment such as Dpaint, you won't be capable of taking advantage of the tools modern programs offer.

My final advice to newcomers is this: Want to be a coder? Learn Assembler. A graphician? Start making your pictures pixel by pixel. A musician? Use four channels and preferably old samples. Have you ever wondered why we don't have any really outstanding musicians like Jester or Heatbeat were? No musician cares about how it's done, just about the results. And no matter how cool they sound, your ripped 303 basslines won't impress anyone, because this is the scene, not the real world, and we DO care about how you did it. Otherwise we would all be coding in Visual Basic, scanning graphics and using MP3 (by the way, I guess you know by now what I think of MP3 in demos)...

'nuff said.

- Wavemaker/Centolos