guest of the project, "carte blanche", Guillaume Richard have been invited to give his personal view about the actual history and relationship between music and home computers ::
" the tracker scene"
Years passing by, the 90s slowly killed these old platforms, introduced the PC era and so, new soundtrackers were coded.
Between all the new soundtrackers available, FastTracker II and ImpulseTracker2 were the two most widely used and it was quite common to read and hear discussions about which one was the best (actually, we all know it was ImpulseTracker…)
New musicians were emerging, inspired by every new genres which were being explored during this period. Internet kicked in, people were now able to hear about trackers without being a part of the demoscene and finally, the "tracking scene" was born.
At a certain moment, the term "tracking group" was coinced. I guess it was following the term "demogroup"… actually, even if the tracking scene was evolving aside the demoscene, at some moments, some demosceners had no idea about some musicians that were into the tracking scene and vice-versa. In the end, it was a funny "troll" to start on some irc channels. Mentioning the tracking scene on a demoscene-related channel was always a good recreation… as much as trying to answer to these questions:
What is exactly a soundtracker?
What is the difference between a soundtracker and a sequencer? (Answer: 90°)
The whole deal behind "tracking groups" was about uniting some guys under the same collective, just like a label. They were releasing their source files (named "modules") on the internet so anybody could download and listen at them.
The idea wasn't about about "staying underground" or "being against the music industry". They were releasing their module files because… well, they always did.
Nowadays, you hear about a lot of long and dull explanations to justify "the right motivations" behind "the free music scene" while during this dark (and pleasant) era, there were no real other explanations except "well, why not?"
The tracking scene was getting so important that one of the two main PC scene e-zines was focusing on the music part of the scene only.
Yes, internet magazines… right… around 1995…
Indeed, the web2.0 is older than you thought.
Its name was Traxweekly and it ran for 119 issues from March 1995 to February 1998, ending with a circulation of over eleven hundred subscribers. It featured interviews, reviews, demoparty reports, tips and some jokes (yes… what is the difference between a tracker and a sequencer?).
For the record, many other followed but I think the two most important were Staticline and Music massage.
KFMF, NOiSE, Five Musicians, Milk, Mono211, Hellven, Tokyo Dawn Records … were for sure the most reknown groups on the web.
On top of them, we should add Theralite, Miasmah, Charlie Brown Records, Black Sista, Chillproductions, Schleudertrauma, Rohformat, Language Lab, Inpuj and Kyoto Republic.
Yes indeed, there were a bunch of them, releasing very different genres for sure. All the groups mentioned above got their own audience and some known trackers were sometimes releasing on many of these different groups.
They were releasing some amazing modules, each of their musicians got an almost unique style and they introduced new ways of going beyond the limitations of a soundtracker, new ways of making a beat sound, news methods… new shapes… new heroes?
People were collecting their modules and were burning them on CDRs or copying them on tapes so they could listen to these guys everyday ( actually I believe some did… as I did).
And even some friends of mine did that when I made them discover these stuff.
Come on, let's just open a facebook group entilted "I was burning modules to CDRs before going to holidays with my parents".
In the late 90s, making music with a computer was still expensive, dealing with real-time virtual synthesizers almost impossible considering the power of computers and connections weren't fast enough to deal with mp3s on a regular basis.
On the other side, soundtrackers were free and a module file could be so small that many more tracking group emerged.
Big databases got unleashed and the first community websites arrived. The most famous was named "traxinspace" and was a huge collection of tracker music where every trackers could even upload their own creations and get reviewed, ranked and listened!
And please, let's not forget about United-trackers and modarchive. " ...
02/03 - to be continued
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actor involved in recent developments of online music, Guillaume Richard, aka Kaneel, is a musician and a label coordinator.
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