Amiga Music: The MOD

What MOD's are, the theory behind them, and how they developed

By Sidewinder (Eric Gieseke), Contributing Writer,

Howdy, my name is Sidewinder. Maybe some of you have heard of my music.

I have been hanging about the Amiga MOD scene for the last 5 years since 1991. It's been one big blast meeting so many interesting folks and learning constantly from others. I hope I can teach a bit of what I've acquired for future aspiring MOD musicians around the world, and hopefully spark the same fire that burns bright in so many others.

What is a MOD?

Okay, that's a good question I hear you asking!

Simple answer...

A MOD or MODule, basically, is a file with a bunch of samples (more on that later), plus data (sequencer info), all stuck together like peanut butter & strawberry jam. Think of it as a musical sandwich...that's's really good.

And depending on the content... you can have a great sandwich! Or sticky fingers.

What Do I Make a MOD With?

First of all, if you're reading this, I'm sure you're on some sort of computer. Amiga would be a good choice...however, you can use any computer, generally, for making MODules. Even PC's...eww!! I hear you!

After we've got that taken care of, we get tracking!

ProTracker is basically THE 4-channel tracker on Amiga, although there are so many others like OctaMED and MLINE which offer advanced features including 8+ channels, MIDI, and Synthetic Sounds. But all generally work similarly in making music via 'tracking;' that is you input a sound or sample on the keyboard and it sticks to the screen in each channel you are you can have drums on one track, bass on the other...and synths and so on, until you fill up all yer 4 or 8 channels. Then you have a song (or a really nice way to annoy your neighbor's small pets!) Oh yeah...sounds...

Most trackers offer built-in sampling. If ya got the sampler to plug in, use it and make wonderful sounds from your room. Otherwise you'll have to load up sounds others have sampled from their rooms.

Boom Boom Boom...

I Feel Freaky

& The Musical History Tour

The history of MODs can be traced way back to the Commodore C64 with programs like Rock Monitor and Synth64. However the first truly advanced (exclusively 4-channel sample-based) form of MODules came into being around spring in 1987 with a little-known program called 'Sound Tracker' by a fellow named Karsten Obarski, who basically started the MOD craze years later since the first 'tracker tunes' were used mostly in early 'demo's' showing off Amiga's fancy gfx and great audio chips. We still love 'em! and Karsten too!

Today the scene has exploded. I mean, can you imagine people with Crays can do MODs? Indeed, anyone with (a) 1 computer and (b) 10 fingers can now do it. so to speak.

Next thing you know we'll have Willie Nelson tracking a song...

On the Road Again


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