FAC Soundtracker
This page was last modified 16:31, 26 June 2018 by Mars2000you. Based on work by Fondacio and Meits and others.

Contents

History

When the demo scene emerged during the late eighties, there wasn't much around to create music with. Often, ripped music from Japanese games was used, or even no music at all. In the early nineties, the FAC released FAC Soundtracker, and it caused the beginning of a landslide in the scene. Suddenly, creating music was hot and has stayed hot ever since.

While popular, FAC Soundtracker wasn't without its flaws. Most notably there was a lack of features; the ones you would typically expect such as changing instruments on a channel. The provided replayer enabled people to use music in their own products. This replayer wasn't the fastest around however and in those early years many coders ended up making their own replayers.

To cure the lack of musical functionality in FAC Soundtracker, new music tools emerged: trackers (both horizontal and vertical) and MML editors - sometimes hybrids. All these new tools have had their merits and their flaws, but FAC Soundtracker remained a popular choice in those days, regardless of its flaws.

Versions

There have been three versions in the Soundtracker series:

FAC Soundtracker 1

FAC Soundtracker 1 main screen
FAC Soundtracker 1 voice/volume editor
FAC Soundtracker 1 drumkit menu

The first version of FAC Soundtracker was released in December 1990. It is a package of 3 disks:

  • first disk is the music utility
    • it includes two additional utilities:
      • BASIC.BAS, a BASIC loader to play the songs composed in the FAC Soundtracker format (MUS, SM1 and SM2 files)
      • CONVERT.BAS to convert the samples created with the Philips Music Creator (SAM files) in the FAC Soundtracker drumkit format (SM1 and SM2 files)
  • second disk is a music disk with 13 compositions - see FAC Music Disk 1 for details
  • third disk is a sample disk with 112 samples (FAC Sample Disk 1)

FAC Soundtracker 2

(to be completed later)
FAC Soundtracker 2.png

FAC Soundtracker Pro

(to be completed later)

FAC Soundtracker Pro featured handy block functions and a new MIDI section.
FAC Soundtracker pro.png
This MIDI section made it possible to playback song data on an external MIDI instrument, while also enabling recording MIDI note data into the patterns. The latter option turned out to be a bit of a drag.

The Program

FAC Soundtracker supported MSX-AUDIO/Music Module and MSX-MUSIC/FM-Pac, though not at the same time. Both music chips were controlled by the same note information, and for MSX-Music/FM-PAC only 6 channels with drums were supported. Composers who wanted music to be 'compatible' on both chip families usually put less important musical information on channels 7, 8 and 9.

Contrary to most other trackers, FAC Soundtracker featured horizontal tracker notation. There was no pattern/position system, so the song length was limited to a maximum of 84 patterns (about two and a half minute at a typical tempo). There was a large list of preset sounds, but no way to make custom voices. Eventually, the X command was added to change the brightness of an FM voice.

Useful keys

(at the moment, only FAC Soundtracker 1 is explained, precisions for other versions will be added later)

Function keys

  • F1 - play a song with possibility to specify start and end tracks
  • F2 - play current track
  • F3 - copy one or several tracks
  • F4 - change speed (default value: 19)
  • F5 - info screen
  • F6 - load or save song
  • F7 - voice/volume editor
  • F8 - samples/drumkit menu (only for MSX-AUDIO)
  • F9 - input title song and name of composer
  • F10 - install default parameters

Other keys

  • INS - toggle US notation/numeric notation
  • SELECT - toggle MSX-AUDIO/MSX-MUSIC
  • cursors - change cursor position
  • CTRL+cursors - go to other track
  • HOME - clear channel in current track
  • CTRL+HOME - clear current track
  • O - note-off event
  • 0 (zero) - make empty step on the cursor position
  • S - specify sustain mode (only for MSX-AUDIO)
  • ESC - input again possible during note-event

In the voice/volume editor

  • F1 - previous page in the list of voices
  • F2 - next page in the list of voices
  • F3 - decrease volume of selected music channel
  • F4 - increase volume of selected music channel
  • F5 - toggle split level
  • 1 to 9 - select music channel
  • SELECT - toggle MSX-AUDIO channels/Original MSX-MUSIC voice/MSX-MUSIC channels
  • cursors - change cursor position in the list of voices
  • spacebar - select voice

Trivia

  • A slight bug (incorrect bounds checking) in FAC Soundtracker Pro enables the user to somewhat change the voice on channel 1. The voice data was probably stored after the pattern data, large block data (bigger than a pattern) could be pasted into the last pattern, so that block data would be overwriting this voice data.