Sections in this Article:
- The Amiga Collection
- PC Trackers
- A Brief Dabble with Cakewalk
- Music Produced in Fruity Loops
Like all things there is a beginning and my musical journey started when I was a child with the arrival of a free-standing electronic organ. It had 4 note polyphonic capabilities which were adequate for 3 fingered chords and one fingered melodies. It was nothing special but enough to get me hooked and I began to teach myself to play and compose.
The next milestone on my journey, and a slightly unusual one, was the arrival of my first computer, a Commodore 64. Apart from the games, its draw to me was programming. Initially this involved keying in long listings from magazines which resulted in a playable game, some with sound effects and soundtracks. It didn’t take long for me to wonder how this device could make all these wonderful sounds, and I soon discovered the SID 6581 chip. After learning machine code and hardware techniques like interrupts, I began creating my own soundtracks for games that I would never finish. I was now able to write music (in a fashion)!
My very first instrument was a Yamaha PSS-270 which I received for one of my birthdays. At the time I was blown away by the variety and richness of the sounds that came from this little portable keyboard, it was certainly a step-up from the electronic organ! I would happily compose pieces on this keyboard then attempt to recreate them in machine code on the Commodore 64. I rarely completed these soundtracks, but many of those tunes continue to exist in my head today; some I have begun to arrange and release (Oriental Dream being the first).
With the exclusion of soundtracks composed for the Commodore 64, the very first time I pulled together a complete track was during my GCSE music at college. This was taken as vocational subject during the first year of A‘levels. In the college studio I had access to a Yamaha 4 track tape recorder (MT50) and various synthesizers. Using a technique called bouncing audio, I extended 4 tracks to 6 and produced my first piece titled "Phoenix". It was based on a Commodore 64 game I was writing at the time. I also included some SID sounds from the Commodore 64 to create a type of wind whoosh sound effect on one of the tracks (additional marks were awarded for the Basic program I submitted with the track). I also made a 3-track recording named the Restless Sea. Both were submitted as course work for my GCSE. Some 8-10 years later I discovered these tracks were still being played to students. One was my younger sister that proudly announced that the author was her brother. I have unfortunately lost the original recordings but will one day re-arrange them as those tunes still rattle around in my head.
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