What are Modules?

What are modules?

Modules are a family of music files, which all originated back on the computer known as the Commodore Amiga.

How did modules come about?

It all started when Karsten Obarski created the Ultimate SoundTracker in 1987. This opened up a whole new world of music which you could create at home on your computer! Many modern trackers are still based on the concepts behind Karsten Obarski’s work.

Why are they called modules?

Modular design. Samples + Playback data in one file. If you’re familiar with MIDI files, it’s a tiny bit like those, except the instruments come bundled with the module file so no matter where you play it – it will always sound the same (unlike relying on MIDI wave-table samples, which vary between sound cards).

What is Tracking?

The process of composing a module.

Why is it called Tracking?

The reason they are called this is because the music plays using the bundled samples on multiple audio channels – tracks.

What is a Tracker?

They are the programs that allow you to create all these wonderful modules. Thankfully, Trackers were not only created for the Amiga, they also spread to DOS and Windows with pioneering programs like Scream Tracker III, FastTracker II and Impulse Tracker.

Is Tracking still relevant today?

The world of tracking is a growing place with a large community across all age groups. Modules are not just for geeky hobby composers who code their own trackers in their spare time, they appeal to anyone who enjoys creating their own tunes, including professional composers.

With a large community comes a large variety. There are modules and Trackers for everyone, for every need, for every taste. Simple, complex, advanced, niche, you name it, there will be a tracker for you. The current third-generation trackers are more powerful than ever, and can easily serve as a Digital Audio Workstation and replace an entire studio.

How does a Tracker work?

Tracker modules contain both song data (arrangement) and sample data. In comparison, MIDI only holds the song data. This allows modules to be played the same way on all sort of devices, including not only computers but also iPods, PSP, PDAs, mobile phones and so on.

This article was written by Kevin ‘Gopher’ Chow, and Eagle for The Mod Archive