FAC Soundtracker
This page was last modified 14:56, 9 November 2019 by Mars2000you. Based on work by Fondacio and Meits and others.

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:

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.

FAC Soundtracker Pro featured handy block functions and a new MIDI section. 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.