Tuesday, 13 May 2014

impulse tracker and the rise of drum and bass

Back in the late 80's and right up to the mid-late 1990's moving music around on the web was near impossible. In a time before broadband, dial-up modems were the only means of sending data to other computers and the size of wav files and mp3 files meant they were far too large for the downloader or uploader to use.
It was then the desktop music creator could only turn to one thing if they wanted to create digital audio at a manageable size to transfer. The DOS running Modular Tracker Software created a MOD file, originally used for game programmers. Over the next years various Trackers appeared on the web completely free to use.

    "The MOD file contains a set of instruments in the form of samples, a number of patterns indicating how and when the samples are to be played, and a list of what patterns to play in what order." wiki

By 1995 Jeffrey Lim had created to many tracker programmers the finest example of them all with his Impulse Tracker.
It also happened to coincide with a rising and yet largely underground music genre born out of UK dance clubs and the London suburbs where many of the DJ's came from, 'Drum and Bass'. It was a music form that seemed like it was destined to be created in a Tracker when new music creators found the loops and sampling techniques of the Drum&Bass DJ's could be replicated within the tracker software.
It now seems incredible in these days of monster downloads the file size of a typical 5 minute stereo audio track with 16bit sampling would amount to less than 350kb and for 8 bit sampling just half of that.
This series of Drum and Bass tracks TAB001-006 (press play all) were made in 1997 on Impulse Tracker and like all other MOD files, freely distributed on the web. Now these tracks in the playlist are converted to audio streaming for the first time.
You are listening to what amounts to an early part of the evolution of desktop computer generated music. It also happens to be 20 years ago since Jeffrey Lim created the mighty Impulse Tracker. What a guy.