I feel this might be a good area to post this. I just wanted to articulate some points I like about the tracker workflow in contemporary music making. also I wanted to see what others feel about all the new happenings (including Polyend people) in the music tracker space.
Great read that encapsulates all that i love about trackers.
Granted, it was easy to win me over, as an old Demoscener back in the days.
So my thoughts have to be preambled with a bit of background, so strap in :
I grew up on the Amiga and Protracker. Visited Scene Events, took part in Compo’s (Competitions). Made friends a long the way and learned a ton of things. It really was a great community.
At first i was intimidated by the interface, but i quickly learned that it’s not so scary after all.
I stopped making music in my early twenties - life had its twists and turns and i was focused on my career as a developer. And back then, i just didn’t mesh well with the emergence of the DAWs and the new workflows, but i was envious of the possibilities.
But music always stayed in the back of my mind. I knew eventually the drive for it would re-emerge. So when the pandemic hit, i was determined to finally tackle the beasts that were the DAWs . Also Softsynths had come such a long way, from back in the early days.
I figured i’d get into Ableton. Not long after though, Polyend announced the Tracker. So all that determination kinda got thrown out the window . I had to have it!
As someone who was used to 4 Channels in Protracker (2 Left and 2 Right), the Polyend Tracker was everything an old trackerhead like me could hope for!
I was hooked! Found like-minded people, made friends for life. I finally settled for a DAW that i feel comfortable with (Bitwig), but my primary place for composition is and will remain the tracker.
The workflow i was used to? Still there! But vastly enhanced:
- No longer do i just have to use the computer keyboard for note entry
- MIDI in/out vastly expanded the capabilities and thereby my creative ideas
- Expressivity was easy to achieve thanks to micro-movements and velocity/volume control and the use of a midi controller.
- I can perform and record with that expressivity immediately, but refine if i need to.
If i am happy with something, i can commit it to the DAW and refine it even further, if i need to. I can add additional voices/tracks, if i feel like it, because the DAW doesn’t limit me to 8 tracks.
…it is exactly these limitations and that spreadsheet-like focus that a tracker gives you, that i appreciate so much. DAW’s can become overwhelming quickly. The sheer number of possibilities and the near endless freedom is apparently too much for my little brain.
The same is true in modular. While i appreciate the freedom in my rack, i also appreciate the granular/fine control that the Nerdseq gives me over all my modules.
The core strength of trackers - in my humble opinion - is the focus, that a tracker can give you and why i think that trackers are not a thing of the past.
Yes - i’m sure the retro nostalgia helped trackers to find a second lease on life. But i am also pretty certain that people will learn to appreciate trackers for the same reasons why i love them.
Even if they look intimidating at first …
i had never heard of tracker software until the PT came out. for about a year i was mad af that i hadn’t known how fun and creative the system is. i’m almost glad i didn’t start with LSDJ though as that is tough to learn and has defeated me.
as far as a comeback, let’s hope so. the more sampling and sequencing techniques the better.