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Topics - swirlythingy

Music database / AMP's Dark Corners
July 12, 2013, 17:13:00
I can't believe we don't have a topic for this already.  I hope to see lots of posts on this one!

We all know the big names of the tracker world, and we all know the most famous tunes.  Rare indeed is the composer who doesn't declare "savannah" or "cream of the earth" as a major inspiration in their interview.

But there's more to AMP's 120,000-strong module database than that, right?  For every Walkman or Lizardking there are a hundred smaller composers who never got the recognition they deserved, dropped out of the scene early, or just didn't choose to seek fame and fortune for their talents in the demoscene.  90% of them are, of course, crud.  This thread is dedicated to rooting out the other 10%.

So.  What tunes by lesser-known or almost completely unknown composers do you harbour secret admiration for?  Are there any people whose oeuvre you think deserves its moment in the spotlight?  Are there any tracks for which you're the only person you've met who's ever heard of them, and you think that's criminal?

I'll get you started with a few of my all-time favourites.  Note that I can't vouch for whether or not these modules are actually completely unknown; all I know is that I've never seen the names mentioned anywhere.

jazzmine by Juno (53 downloads)
orangejuice by U-Man (118 downloads)
keep-bustin by Commando (109 downloads)
cyberchrist by Vortex (133 downloads)
we need paradise by XS (76 downloads)
keep ya hyper by Strike (121 downloads)
can you hear me ? by Rico (64 downloads)
Newsreel / Allister Brimble - The Amiga Works
November 16, 2012, 23:08:16
After my epic fail with Chris Huelsbeck's own self-remixing Kickstarter, I'm sure as hell not going to miss the chance to pledge to this one:

It still needs £5000 more, but runs until January.

Support it!  I did, and getting me to hand over money for anything is like getting blood out of a stone.
Music Request / Lost Jason Page tune
September 27, 2012, 18:27:20
As I suspected way back when I wrote the very first version of my Jason Page music converter, but have only just now confirmed, the current version of that archive is not complete.

Have a look at this list.  There's Virocop tune 1, tune 2, and so on all the way up to tune 9.  Then there are tunes 11 to 14.  There is no tune 10.

What is particularly aggravating is that UnExoticA doesn't have the Virocop music at all, which closes off the solution I found when I discovered that some of Modland's Richard Joseph tunes were faulty.  No other sites seem to collect these 'exotic' formats.

As for exactly what tune is missing, I confirmed my suspicions by watching the longplay video.  The numbered files are arranged in groups of two, and the two tracks within each group have the same samples.  So tune 1 is the main theme for the first world, and tune 2 is the boss theme.  Tune 3 is the main theme for the second world, and tune 4 is the second world's boss theme.  Tune 9 is the main theme for the fifth world... and if you watch the video (2:18:00 is about right), you'll hear a set of tunes in the background of the fifth world's boss fight which do not exist in my archive.

Can somebody please re-rip the music from this game?  I've come this far, I don't want to deprive my converter of every possible JPN file I can throw at it!
Here's my guide to the inner workings of the RJP format, some twenty months after I first started investigating it.  Much shorter than the JPN one, and much less focused on being a tutorial.

I'll upload it to Modland too.

Hopefully we can all draw a line under this whole sordid episode now...

EDIT: Er, correction, I won't upload it to Modland because the upload folder has gone!  Has the site finally given up the ghost?
Music Request / CyberChrist
September 16, 2012, 20:47:01
There's a tune called 'cyberchrist' by Vortex which I'm rather fond of, but unfortunately both AMP's copy and mine have a rather serious fault in.  Some of the data seems to have been decompressed incorrectly somehow, resulting in a loud squealing noise in the vocal samples.

I've tried Modland too - same problem. :(

Does anyone have a clean copy of this tune?
Support / Feedback / Alternate versions of files
August 07, 2012, 18:47:43
Right now, the database has a lot of files called things like "mod.example", "mod.example.long" and "mod.example.sht".  This makes it clear that they're all alternate versions of the same file.

The problem is, sometimes simply calling the files similar names to each other isn't enough.  The worst offender I've found so far is Nuke (Spaceman on AMP), where a lot of music used in productions and named after those productions was recycled from other songs called something quite different.

To take one particularly mysterious example, the Wonder Dog title music appears to be almost the same as a track called "sunday best" - in spite of the fact "sunday best" is listed as a collaboration with Supernao and Wonder Dog isn't!

I think what's needed is some sort of formalised reference system, to warn downloaders that certain tracks are alternate versions of each other or even exactly the same.

Quite possibly the most duplicated track on AMP is one of Spaceman's called "silicon-sector".  This also appears as "kings of dawn" and "digital innovation", exists in a slightly changed form as "silicon-sector v2.0", and has a shortened version called "glocloader" - which has also been remixed by 4-Mat as "glocloader-51k"!
Music database / Jason Page v3
June 26, 2012, 21:35:45 is now on AMP's FTP, size 4,853,002 bytes.

After this I'm going to shut up about RJP and JPN forever.  Honest!  I have vague plans to give the Steve Turner (or "Jason Page Old") format a seeing-to, but I don't expect that to happen soon.

The files in this zip have been less thoroughly tested than usual, so please let me know if you find any bugs.

This archive is mainly uploaded for completeness, because my previous JPN converter was a year old and looking a bit scraggy next to the shiny new RJP one, which had had a lot of changes made to it in that year.  Unfortunately, a lot of said changes weren't applicable to JPN, as it has a range of seven octaves (bye bye to the space-saving and quality-increasing sample recording bypass), and doesn't have fixed-format sample blocks (so long to the elimination of samples duplicated in all but volume).  I did sort of consider making more ambitious changes to make the files smaller, but ended up filing all of them under 'too difficult'.

So, apart from a major restructuring of the inner workings of the converter (satisfying, but not much effect on output), the only significant changes are the fixing of two longstanding known bugs:

Firstly, the way the dynamic sample generator worked in v2 meant that it was very possible that the same JPN pattern could be played twice and produce two different S3M patterns!  This was very irritating, but the fix depended on the above-mentioned restructuring.  So, as well as being neater internally, the converter now produces more correct output.

Secondly, the JPN facility to physically copy 128 bytes of sample data was rather bodged-up until now.  This mostly worked, except for the first world of Fire and Ice.  That one plays properly now.
Newsreel / Turrican Soundtrack Anthology
June 03, 2012, 23:47:14
Chris Huelsbeck has run a Kickstarter campagin to fund a new limited edition box set containing, among other things, arrangements of selected Turrican soundtracks with a real symphony orchestra, and new studio recordings and arrangements of "nearly all" Turrican tracks - in a massive, "gorgeously packaged" limited edition box set which will "will never be produced in this form again after the project is completed!"

You might justifiably think I'm a bit late in announcing this news, given that the campaign finished running this evening.

In fact, at the precise moment I first found out about it and opened the page, the text at the right read: "This project successfully raised its funding goal 6 minutes ago."


To say that I am slightly annoyed would be the understatement of the century.
Music Request / Diggers ingame music
September 23, 2011, 19:51:46
OK, all being well (which is unlikely, since this program has a fondness for going disastrously wrong just when I think I've found the last bug*), a new version of my RJP->S3M format converter is nearing completion.  It now copies original sample data where possible (rather than recording it at different pitches) for better quality playback, and no longer downsamples some instruments (since it sounded awful).  It detects duplicate samples, and those which differ only in volume, resulting in much smaller files in some cases (notably Sensible Golf).  It also attempts to intelligently determine how many beats are in a bar so that the pattern lengths better match up to the rhythm of the music, meaning fewer patterns should be required (most dramatically in Flight of the Amazon Queen 12-01).  A number of other optimisations and accuracy improvements are present.  Unfortunately, since the samples are now of twice their previous quality, most files are much bigger.

* (And, right on schedule, just as I was typing the above paragraph, I heard a piece of truncated sample data in the James Pond 3 music playing in the background.  Better luck next time? >:( )

Anyway, since I'm looking at Richard Joseph's music once again, I want to ask a question I've been meaning to for a while: Is the Diggers ingame music supposed to sound like that?

I'm talking about subsong 34 here, the one which plays (plus sound effects) while you're actually digging through the planet Zarg.  Currently, this is a conversion nightmare, due to using nothing more than two very long samples which both quote pointers to other samples in both their vibrato and tremolo data pointers - a more or less nonsensical thing to do, although not unheard of (world 3 of the Chaos Engine uses a similar trick to great effect).

I remember watching my big sister play the RISC OS port of this very game, and I don't remember the pitch of the strings wobbling all over the place like it does in my conversion.  Sadly, I haven't been able to get the game working again, and in any case, the fidelity of Archimedes conversions of Amiga music players has historically been, erm, variable.

Nor, apparently, is it available on Amiga Longplay (a criminal omission in my opinion), and I haven't been able to find any other ingame footage of the original (not CD32) version on YouTube either.

So, can anybody supply some kind of recording of the background music as it is played in the original Diggers game itself?

I have a suspicion that the vibrato and tremolo pointers were actually ignored by the version of the player used - I certainly found a recording of the intro from Cannon Fodder 2 where the player used seemed to have no support for them, resulting in the siren sample at the beginning (which is supposed to slide up and then down) sound like a glitch.  Before I write anything, however, I'd like to know if my theory was correct, or if the music in the original game really was that weird.
This page is all in bold:

A look at the source leaves me in no doubt why:

<p align="center">
was unranked at <b>The Party IV</b> for the <b>amiga music</b> compo in <b>1994
(Please note: I'm well aware that AMP is far from the most appropriate place for this kind of post, but I'm damned if I know where to start looking for a better one.)

The attached file is a fruit of the latest version of my now hideously overrun project to automatically convert RJP music files to S3M files (It's Complicated, as Mr Zuckerberg might say).  Some of you might have noticed the new additions to the downloads page - rest assured they do not exhibit this bug, which was introduced in the process of making the tuning more accurate.  This file also contains a number of other as yet unreleased optimisations.

I've been tearing my hair out over this bug for two days, and have studied the ScreamTracker documentation very carefully, and just now I carefully calculated all of the relevant period values involved (or, at least, what I thought they should be) to find out where I was going wrong.  My calculations returned the answer I least expected - the original values in the RJP file are entirely consistent with the converted values saved to the S3M file.  It was at this point I decided external help was going to be necessary.

There are two possibilities remaining: Either I've fundamentally misunderstood some little nook of the documentation and haven't noticed yet, or there's a bug in my S3M player.

In the file as I hear it, the pitch slides are broken, in that they slide the pitch by about half of the value I would expect them to.  In this text I shall refer to channel 4 of pattern 5, which plays at position 5 (both numbers counting from 0).

The note D#4 on row 0xC uses the not uncommon compositional technique of starting on one note and then immediately sliding to another note slightly above - two semitones, in this case, or F-4.  RJP has no portamento function, so the only way to do this is to specify a duration in addition to a depth.  The converted pattern data looks like this:

Row Nte Sm Vo Efct
0B  --- -- -- - --
0C  D#4 0F -- F 02
0D  --- -- -- F 02
0E  --- -- -- - --

Now, according to my interpretation of the documentation, the period values ScreamTracker translates notes to vary according to the C-4 frequency specified in the sample list.  In this case, for various complicated reasons, it's 16574 Hz - about twice the default of 8363.  The file format documentation yields the following:

        Table for note frequencies used by ST3:

          note:  C    C#   D    D#   E    F    F#   G    G#   A    A#   B
        period: 1712,1616,1524,1440,1356,1280,1208,1140,1076,1016,0960,0907

        middle octave is 4.

                         8363 * 16 * ( period(NOTE) >> octave(NOTE) )
        note_st3period = --------------------------------------------

        note_amigaperiod = note_st3period / 4

        note_herz=14317056 / note_st3period

        Note that ST3 uses period values that are 4 times larger than the
        amiga to allow for extra fine slides (which are 4 times finer
        than normal fine slides).

(In the following, all numbers are rounded down, since I do not believe software of ScreamTracker's age is usually obsessively accurate.)

As I'm on the middle octave, the shift right business simplifies to period(NOTE), which is 1440.  Therefore, note_st3period = 1440*8363/16574 = 726.

Here comes another opportunity for me to have got things wrong: I believe the conventional slide commands (as opposed to "extra fine slides") act on the Amiga period, for compatibility.  So, note_amigaperiod = 726/4 = 181.

I didn't mention it before now, but the speed of the song is 6, and the "fast slides" option is off.  So, the amount subtracted from the Amiga period is (speed-1)*(value)*(two rows)=5*2*2=20.  The new note_amigaperiod is 161, and note_st3period is 644.

To get it back to period(NOTE), use: 644*16574/8363 = 1276.  This is more or less exactly F-4 - but the note I'm actually hearing is E-4!  Which is, coincidentally, more or less exactly what I'd expect if the periods were twice as far apart as I thought - i.e. played at 8363 Hz, instead of 16574!

So, two requests: Firstly, if there are any clangers in the above arithmetic, please point them out, and secondly, please play the S3M on your own computers and tell me if you hear the same problem.  Also, please tell me if it plays one octave too high or low.
Music database / Jason Page v2
July 02, 2011, 14:38:58
Well, that was quicker than I was expecting!

New file on FTP:, size 4785416 bytes.

This incorporates the technical improvements made in my Richard Joseph converter, principally the sample trimmer (bits at the end of samples which are, in practice, never heard in the tune not saved) and proper handling of pitch slides (replacing the old vague guesstimate of slide depth).  Many minor improvements have been made as well, including native S3M export (instead of a slightly dodgy second-stage converter) and pattern optimisation (smarter than just having as many patterns as positions).

I've also removed all the junk (or, at least, what I assume is junk) and duplicates (e.g. the second Uridium 2 file, which differs only in the ingame samples available - the music is identical).

Unfortunately, the optimisations weren't enough to push the Realms title music under file size limit, so that one has half-quality samples once again.

Export of original BASIC source not attached because my browser has suddenly decided to refuse to upload anything ending in ".txt" or ".zip" at all. >:(

(Not sure if this should be in the FTP uploads forum?)

EDIT: After much grief, I've managed to circumvent the attachment problem.  Sorry, no comments as usual.
Music database / Richard Joseph Player
March 11, 2011, 09:38:54
As I write, a 37MB zip archive is uploading to the AMP FTP... very slowly.

It's called rjp_conv/zip, and, as I promised, ooh, quite a while ago now, it contains conversions to S3M of all files I could find on UnExoticA of the RJP format.

Some brief notes, because I don't have much time:

Some subsongs may be junk.  I've just blindly ripped everything I could find and decided to leave the weeding to people who know what they're talking about.

Games included: Brutal/Crazy Football, Cannon Fodder/2, Chaos Engine/2/Demo, Diggers/Extractors, Flight of the Amazon Queen, James Pond 2/3/Aquatic Games, Mr Blobby, Rome AD 92, Ruff'n'Tumble, Sensible Golf, Sensible World of Soccer/95/96/Euro.

Some may be duplicates - see above.

I haven't tested as thoroughly as I should have done, so if it seems wrong, it probably is.  Please let me know about any mistakes!

I'll upload it to Modland as well when I get time.
Support / Feedback / Random logos in forum
December 28, 2010, 22:58:24
A minor complaint, but...

We have all those logos displayed randomly in every other part of the site, but why not in the forum?

I assume it's just PHP code, so could you paste it into the space at the top to match all the other pages?

Sorry, the same image on every page just gets boring after coming from the composer pages...
Music database / obarski mega-mix
December 09, 2010, 18:29:57
OK, what happened to this file?  I'm sure I downloaded it from AMP, and now I can't find it anywhere - not even with a deleted marker!

My copy is dated 18/10/2009.  Can anyone shed light on this mystery?  I'm pretty sure it came off Karsten Obarski's page, and its entry was named as its track name (I've renamed the attachment to avoid possible character translation problems).
Music database / '(Premiere)intro' by Spaceman
October 12, 2010, 21:21:38
So I don't know why this is listed as a MOD.  I've never seen anything less a MOD file (mentioning no Jason Pages).

It looks like a database error, considering that ModInfo produces junk output.

Can anyone tell what format this is?  (It certainly isn't a compressed one.)

EDIT: Ooh, I'm a junior member now.
New features / Composer websites
February 24, 2010, 13:39:05
Reading Dr. Awesome's interview reminded me - would it be possible to add an extra field to the composers database for personal websites?  Also, I see deus-ex provides links in the data posted to the 'musicians' forum...
Requests / Jason Page
February 20, 2010, 19:21:40

I've been spending a lot of my spare time recently decoding the so-called 'Jason Page' tracker format used in Fire and Ice.  Unfortunately, I only had access to the Archimedes conversion of the game's internal playroutine, in ARM assembler, and as I got deeper in it became more and more apparent that the person who did the conversion didn't know the first thing about what he was doing or the relative properties of PC, Amiga and Acorn sound architecture.

So, while I do now have a converter program that produces music and a fairly thorough understanding of how the format is structured and how it is read, I am aware that the results, while faithful to the Acorn version, are completely different from the original one.

I'm asking because I'd like to know if anyone has any information on this format (or, indeed, a way to ask Jason himself about it) so that I could make my conversion a good deal more faithful.  I couldn't find anything on Exotica (there's a page for it, but it's blank), but I hope I'm not the only person who knows anything about this format - the only alternative would be to get a look at the Amiga binary, and I can only read ARM assembler!
Music Request / Sequence problems
November 01, 2009, 12:55:10
Take the following Cutcreator tune:

This exhibits a problem I've seen on a few other tunes too, such as some of Nuke's 'Universe' compilations.  The length-of-sequence byte appears to be too large.  This results in the zero padding beyond the end of the sequence being counted as part of it, and interpreted by the player as an order to play pattern 0 nine times over.  Any idea what causes this problem?  I assume it's the result of a faulty ripping program somewhere along the line...

Another, unrelated, quick question: What was the original Ghosts and Goblins tune?  Searching for 'ghost' turns up two pages of remixes!
Music Request / thomsong#
October 16, 2009, 22:49:11
OK, I'm wondering about the author of four ProTracker files I have here: 'thomsong1', 'thomsong2', 'thomsong3' and 'thomsong4'.  They certainly sound as if they were written by the same person.  The filenames are, respectively, 'germ', 'claves', 'popcorn' and 'stealth'.  The nature of 'popcorn' should be obvious!

I haven't managed to find any of them on this website.  None of them contain any indication of their authors, so it may have flouted that rule if somebody tried to upload them, but otherwise does anybody know anything about these?