1995 is knocking.
It wants you to take that iPod filled with EDM and throw it out a second-story window.

For the first time this millennium, the New Media Group* presents a Tracker Fix
Saturday, February 20th, 2016.

OK. To recap. A Tracker Fix: it's...
well, not exactly a contest, not exactly a competition, but
a challenge to excel under constraints.

While we haven't run one in a dog's age, great minds have since thought alike:

  • All participating composers, working from a set of the same sound samples, are challenged
    to put a couple of hours into working out an intriguing sketch of a song using only those samples.
  • Participating composers get an earful of their colleagues' results, and rate their favorite starts.
  • A month later, they all have a chance to submit polished elaborations of these original rough drafts,
    we find out who has improved on their idea the most, and all the nascent and mature song versions
    are released in a collection for public consumption and enjoyment.
  • An it please us, we will run another one around this time the following year.

The sample pack for Tracker Fix 2016 will be disseminated Saturday, February 20th at 16:30 PST
simultaneously here, on the mistfunk tumblr, at @mistfunk on Twitter, and on #tfix on the EFNet IRC.

Tracks will be called in by the end of that weekend, and the polished versions of the songs will be slated for release Saturday, March 19th, 2016.

You can use whatever music-making setup you like -- ideally one that handles samples well. Recommended methods include:

  • Scream Tracker, its successor Impulse Tracker, or its modern re-implementation Schism Tracker
  • Fast Tracker ][ (or its modern re-implementation MilkyTracker)
  • Renoise
  • LSDJ
  • Pro Tracker, Sonic Foundry's ACID, Fruity Loops (c'mon, how better to hit the elusive '90s sweet spot?)
  • or, y'know, razor-spliced audiotape loops fastened with bits of Scotch tape.
    We're a big tent -- we welcome contributions from both historical Amiga AND Atari ST composers 8)
(That said, apologies to composers on AdLib sound cards or Mario Paint, people who might otherwise put together a SID or NSF or some Black MIDI for us; sequencing is not enough to compete in this competition -- you must be able to incorporate use of the samples somehow, and if not strictly speaking impossible for you, it would almost certainly be not worth the contortions required. We would, however, be thrilled to incorporate your songs into a different collection 8)

If you have any questions or comments regarding the fast and loose governance of the Tracker Fix franchise, please don't hesitate to contact its ringmaster at cthulu at tabnet dot ca

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I work Saturdays

A: That's OK, you will have a whole month to putter around with the samples if you like.

Q: So tunes will be submitted as mp3's, not modules? :S

A: It's not 1995 anymore - you can use the old tools and the old formats if you like but if you want to use new tools and formats also I say go for it 8)

Q: But the invitation said the 1995 is knocking & wants you to throw fancy equipment away =)

A: Sorry, it's meant to invite readers to throw away shitty new electronic music in favour of making shitty old-style electronic music 8) Anyhow, mp3 is not necessarily incompatible with 1995: "The filename extension .mp3 was chosen by the Fraunhofer team on 14 July 1995 (previously, the files had been named .bit). With the first real-time software MP3 player WinPlay3 (released 9 September 1995) many people were able to encode and play back MP3 files on their PCs." 8)

Q: can we use derivative samples? (read: modify/reduce/join/chord/rasterize/apply filters on the given sample pool in order to achieve better sonorities)?

A: A good question, I'm going to say yes because I think that some parties are otherwise going to have a hard time making music with this particular collection of samples 8)

Q: I'm shocked Renoise is allowed. While technically a tracker, I guess, it's way more powerful than any other tracker I know of.

A: ANNNYYYTTHHING is allowed. I just want to see what people can do with the sounds. That's the minimalist constraint, not the tools used.

Q: Anything? I have ReNoise. But mainly do most if not all of my work in a DAW now. I haven't really touched a "classic" tracker in well over a decade.

A: When I talked about splicing tape loops with razors and Scotch tape, it was meant as a metaphor proclaiming "anything goes!"

Q: I thought that some "tracker" have special rendering and so if song will not present in MP3 format (as well as original i presume) that should be more complicated to share the result, that's right?

A: It's true that the composition will be more difficult for us to judge and rank if we cannot find a way to listen to it. I'm assuming that we aren't going to be seeing many creations in truly exotic formats but we are happy to meet you halfway -- if you can help us to find a way to hear whatever you come up with 8)

Q: Does the song written in "one weekend" or in "one month", i'm not sure to have correctly understand.

A: It has two phases, to accommodate the busy and complicated lives of people today. In the first phase the composers create and share among themselves the brief, unpolished song sketches they were able to come up with over the weekend, and the second phase is to see a finished product with more time put into it over the month, suitable for wider enjoyment.
Historically phase 1 would have taken place in a room on a hotseat compo machine with a 30 minute time limit, so there was more obvious need for follow-up polish... This is just an attempt to tweak that two-part approach to accommodate remote participants on different schedules.

Q: Sorry to say this, but "not seen since the late '90s" is just downright wrong. There are 1 hour fixed sample compos like this on a weekly basis at #modulez on espernet.

A: Sorry, I meant specifically that we here in the 604 haven't conducted a Tracker Fix compo since the late '90s 8)

Q: Also, they actually use tracker formats rather than MP3...

A: And as for the mp3 format, while I would prefer tracker formats (and I think the opening salvo in my "recommended methods" section bears that out), I don't want to exclude people who take other routes toward the same destination -- I don't want to be uninviting to people who weren't there, then, and never learned to count in hex 8)

(You know, the New Media Group (no relation to the New Media '94 demoparty... at least I don't think so) --
area code 604's (Gravis represent!) consortium of computer music groups,
the cadre who collaborated to present the 604 Music Disk at the NAiD '96 demoparty.
What do you mean you never heard it? Log in to the 1040 MIDI and Music BBS and download it! ... oh.)

The only currently-active fragment of the amassed forces is Mistigris -- Digitronic had changed its name to Trideja even before this logo had ever been released to the public, and Digitallusions ... well, it is now Empress Play and going great guns.