Archive for the ‘appleII’ Category

Trackers from 1981 and 1983

July 30, 2018

It is common knowledge that Soundtracker or Soundmonitor were the first trackers. But it’s not necessarily true. In the 1960’s computer scientists and Fluxus artists made things that were rather tracker-like (here, here) and there are probably precursors from hundreds of years ago.

But talking computer software, we can have a look at for example Muzix81, released in Hungary in 1983. This was a CV sequencer for the tiny ZX81, and was apparently used for a few mainstream record releases. The manual reveals that Muzix81 has a similar layout to eg Soundmonitor, with a list of hexadecimal instructions. At the top left, “1. 0B” means duration 1, octave zero, note B. “+” means sharp and “*” means accent.

Muzix81 has many similarities with a tracker, but it uses explicit duration. The user sets the duration of each event instead of using a fixed time for each step (like a step sequencer). Most trackers don’t do this, but there is a strain of trackers with explicit duration that are sometimes called editors. (note that Muzix81 has a step sequencer for drums though)

Irrlicht Project recently told me about a similar program, released even earlier. Electric Duet for Apple II came out in 1981, and was made by Paul Lutus in USA. It uses the same basic principle as Muzix81: on each step the user sets duration and note.


What makes this tracker-like, as herr Irrlicht himself notes, is that it uses a vertical time line (not sure if Muzix81 does?) and that it has text notation rather than sheet music. These two factors taken together, means that it is as much a tracker as the myriad of C64-editors from the 1980’s and 1990’s are. But this is from 1981.

Following this terminology, we could say that Muzix81 is a hypertracker (as the musical output depends on the settings on the external hardware) and Electric Duet is more of a soundtracker, since it simply plays the data that the user has typed in. But I’m not sure if that makes sense.

If you know of other early tracker-like software, feel free to send us a fax!

Apple II, forgive me

July 15, 2008

I had no idea that Apple II is alive and kicking! I found 8-bit Sound & Fury with both purist Apple II music and also compositions made with external hardware and overdubs. Yes! The Apple II was developed by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, and with its graphics, color, and sound it won the battle over Commodore PET and Tandy TRS-80 back in 1977. Also, the inner workings of the hardware was made public, unlike competing computers. (source: Gamasutra) Also, it was probably here the cracking of games started getting organized with modem-linked networks of mainly Americans, dating back to 1979 according to Linus Walleij. This is a quite legendary machine, growing out of the homebrew hippie hacker action that seems to have been dominating computer progresses in the 1970s. Parallel to this was ofcourse the copyright-mongering Microsoft (although I do remember seeing a documentary called Psychedelic Science where Gates’ partner Paul Allen said that BASIC wouldn’t have existed without LSD). Anyway, time for some contemporary Apple II music!

Framebreaker – Serial Dub (2007) is an EP with four dub-smelling Apple II tracks, the first that caught my attention among the other more pure squarey tracks. I am not sure how much overdubbing and effects is on this, but it sounds like a sharp dub-rock printer soundtrack!

Geometry for Lovers by J.Warden & S.Williams is “Mathematically-derived instrumental compositions performed on the Apple II computer.” and might be called industrial (anti)chaos pop, or something. Worth checking out.

Michael J Mahon – In My Life (2005?) – nice and cheesy Beatles-cover, made with his custom hardware/software 8xApple//eAppleCrate Eight Voice Music Synthesizer. This is 8 channels of samples, and doesn’t sound like Apple II to me at all. Check out his other Apple II projects he’s been doing since 1981 here.

Telnet Heart (2005), Robot Revolution and Nightdriver are amazing speech synthesis hard-rock songs in low-res. I’ve always had a soft spot for both 8-bit rock and speech synthesizers, and this is definitely among my favourites.

Also worth checking:
* Apple II music podcast: 1mhz
* Apple II hardware production company: reactive micro.
* Apple II ethernet card here
* The mother of all Apple II webrings!! : )

Also, even more interestingly, pouet has Apple II demoscene releases from 1981 to 1997 here. That crackintro from 1981 is probably the oldest one I have seen…