Amiga Music Preservation


How did your interest for computers start? Which year was that?

My ancle showed me an IBM PC XT at his work, in the mid 80s. There were a few games (Digger, Alley Cat, Arkanoid, Galaxians) I used to play. I was impressed with the colours and music (yes, PC-speaker). I still love the themes from Arkanoid and Alley Cat.
My interest in computers began while I was studying at an art school, and my parents took me to a "computer animation studio" at that time. They had a Yamaha MSX2 with a b/w monitor in that studio, and a program to make animations on it. Children never heard MSX's music there, we were just doing some drawing.

What machines did you previously have? What did you do with them?

1) Textmode programable calculator :) I wrote a few simple games on it.
2) In 1990 I visited Belgium, where I saw a Shnaider home computer (Amstrad CPC clone). We used to play the Barbarian game with my friend Danny for hours :) Also he showed me the DEMOS! There were 3D vector figures flying around with a Strauss' waltz accompaniment :) Another demo showed a full colour Ferrari with some digital (sampled!) rock music. That was a day! I was really impressed, so I even recorded the music from the demos and games directly from the built-in Amstrad's speaker to a portable tape recorder, using the internal mic. The quality was terrible, but I've listened to that cassette for many years without problems :)
3) Before the last year in school, I had some practice lessons at the goverment technical library where I worked with animations on a PC. I saw the Crystal Dream demo made by Triton and STMOD there. It played MODs (actually, it was MODs converted to STMs) on the PC-speaker. Oh, my God! It was amazing! I brought a tape recorder and recorded another cassete (from the build-in speaker to internal mic again). It was year 1991. A bit later, when the Scream Tracker 2 was released, I made a covox, bought a good tape recorder, connected them to a PC and became a tracker musician :)
4) Got money from a summer schoolpractice, bought an amazing fully 16-bit russian BK-0010 computer (DEC PDP-11 like) where I even coded my own tracker.
5) Several years later I got a PC, and coded a few demos on it.
6) Then I discovered the Amiga demoscene (thanks to RDC and Xpeh / Looker House) and bought an A1200 with a 68030 processor and HDD.
7) Now I have an Apple iBook G4 1.2 GHz.

For what specific reason did you end up making music rather than gfx, coding?

I used to draw and paint for 7 years, on paper and computer, before I bought my first computer. So when I got it, I wanted to do something different. Because I enjoyed demos, I started coding and composing music. At that time I entered the Moscow Technical University of Electronic and Mathematic to study programming and A.I., but it gave me almost nothing new (except a few good friends and knowlange in physics).

Which composing programs have you been using? Which one in particular?

Scream Tracker 2 on PC, self made Strogino Sound Tracker on BK-0010 then, Scream Tracker 3, DigiTracker, Impulse Tracker, Psycle, Skale Tracker and ModPlug Tracker - all on PC. I also used ProTracker on Amiga, but just for fixing/tuning the MODs which I basically wrote on ST3. Now I'm using the Schism Tracker on the Macintosh and Milky Tracker sometimes.

With which module did you feel you had reached your goal?

I guess, "Silmarill" was the first one, in the late 1994. One year later I composed the "She Was Innocent" module, wich we finished together with Tarh. It really reached a goal, because it took a prize at the EnLight'96 demoparty and made the SandS demogroup famous on the russian demoscene :) But now I like "Goodbye" and "I'll See You Soon" more, because of the original samples, style and even vocals. Some people can't understand what's so special in "Folk Boys", because it sounds mostly like live music, so you'll miss all that tracking tricks while listening. But it is also a well tracked module.
Also I like a few IT-modules where I reached some very complex tracking technique with filters and all that tricks, but people said it sounded "too commercial". The hell with it :) So, I wrote a few 4-channel MODs with live samples and nice melodies to go back to the demoscene roots. "Sad Child Song" is one of them (drums tracked by Tangerine in the very right style, big thanks!).

Is there a tune you would like not to remember? For what reason?

No problem, I had already deleted them before anybody had a chance to hear them :) Also I don't like a few tunes spoiled by game developers (you know, you make a cool tune but they say: ok, but please remove all that jazzy notes, rock breakes, too expressive melody, symphony parts and adjust the volume to the same level throughout the whole tune). For example, the original "Horse in Synthesed Land" was very rock'n'roll-ish, but for the game release it became just some background pop. That's why sometimes we in SandS release "alternative versions" of our game music for the demoscene (for example, bringing back the cut out parts and 16-bit samples to modules downsampled for consoles).

In your opinion, what's the value of a music in a demo, game?

You know, the lead people from Lucas, Nintendo, etc. used to say that "music makes 50% of a film/game". It's true, but not all film/game makers understand what music really does: they are ready to pay a lot of their attention to the music, but they can pick a wrong way or scheme anyway.
Demo... In general, nobody will tell you what exactly you must do to compose and how it must sound, so the demo soundtracks are more artistic, true and fresh. I like demo soundtracks. Even composed a few :)

At present, are you still composing? For professional or leisure purposes?

Yes, game development (tracked and live music as well). But tracking is a good entertamend for me, I still compose just for fun too.

What do you think of today's pieces of music such as mpeg, wave, midi, etc...?

WAV - ok, audio CD - almost ok. You can laugh, but 44 KHz is not comfortable for me: when I'm working with EQ, I can hear how the very highs react on EQ manipulations in a wrong way. I use some professional headphones with the 5-35000 Hz range and can actually hear how the freqs above some value "move" in a "freezing" way when you operate with them. It all does not matter in tracker music: you can say "well, it's just a tracker", forget about "quality" and start to enjoy the music :) I like this way of thinking.
Also I like live music. When you hear the violin or jazz trumplets, you quickly understand: this sound could never fit on a CD.

Could you tell us some of your all times favourite tunes?

Oh, not again :) One day they asked me the same question for another interview, and I made a two page list. I better point to authors.
Briefly, classical Amiga trackers like Dizzy, Bruno (his "Listen" has a huge influence on me, I started to love jazz), Moby, etc.
Future Crew musicians - they were the first who demonstrated how 16 channels can be fully used). Xpeh and Tangerine from Looker House, they helped me to gain my tracking technique, and also they were the first people I got to know in Russia who composed really great music, like the best trackers arownd the world (how could they not inspire me? ;)
Five Musicians and Orange groups. And many more, from Russia as well. I have a huge collection and love every module in it, they are all hits.

Are you planning to make an audio CD with some of your music remastered?

Since I've started composing game music, some of it has already been published on CDs, so I see no reason to make a "special" music release on a CD. However, I've reworked two tunes of Purple Motion for "reTracked" CD vol 1. If there is going to be a second volume, I'll make my own tune, probably one of the well known oldies like "She Was Innocent" or "First Night By The Sea". Heh, I once recorded a few tunes with my guitars with super high quality active pickups, sampled them with an expensive ADC - it can be a good matherial for a CD, but what I've done? I cut it all into short looped samples, converted to 8 bit and made a few MODs! It was fun! I liked it. Don't tell me, who really need CDs? :) Download MODs and be happy.

What bands are you currently listenning to?

Right now I'm listening to a Ringo Starr's album (unpublished yet!). I like to collect rare bootlegs and unpublished records by the Beatles' musicians :) I like live music. Sheryl Crow makes wonders: she plays the piano, guitar, bass, composes music and writes lyrics - it all makes her songs "true".
Well, Vangelis. Andreas Vollenweider (thanks to Tangerine).
Classical music (hate that silly contemporrary interpritations like Readers Digest's "gold classics", "music for good mood", "classics in rock sound", etc. It's all stupid fast food).
Jazz. No life is possible without water and jazz :) I dig funk as well. Of course, I listen to the music made by ex-demosceners, like Dune/Orange ("Brithomstates" nowdays), Mellow-D / Five Musicians ("Kschzt" nowdays), Purple Motion / Future Crew (got CD with his sign), etc.

What does/did the Amiga/C64 scene give you?

The Amiga scene gave me the sense of style. As a coder and designer, I used the Amiga "vision of style" in my own demos, graphics and videos.
Also, the Amiga scene gave me a lot of contacts with interesting people. And the music, of course. I'm still tracking 4 channels MODs, maybe because I feel the inspirative influence from the old masters. They did really unbelievable things.

Are you still active in the scene these days?

Yes. Look at :)

Anyone to greet? Anything left to say? Feel free...

Greetings to all trackers whose music I've listened to. Nowadays I am too lazy to write greetings even in my modules, so look at the older releases, there's lots of greeting text in there :)