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Learning GoatTracker, 1

Here’s my self proposed challenge: create a true 8-bit song for the RetroEuskal compo. It’s going to be quite tought because I have never, ever, in my life, made a true 8-bit song with true 8-bit limitations. I have decided to use GoatTracker because it works on my computer and operating system (Ubuntu). I could maybe use FamiTracker which I think was easier from when I tried it, but I have to run it inside VirtualBox (wine won’t do the trick this time) and it was horribly slow, plus the lag and the sound crackles. A definitive no-no.

As an exercise and also just in case it is helpful for someone else, I’m going to write down the process here. There we go!

First thing with GoatTracker is to locate some documentation, because just playing around with the values of things in the screen is not working, and nobody though of busy people like me and recorded a youtube tutorial or something. In Ubuntu, if you install GoatTracker using the package manager, the documentation which accompanies the softare is in a compressed file in /usr/share/doc/goattracker/readme.tar.gz, so you’ll have to extract it somewhere where you, as a simple user, are allowed to extract it. By the way, the sample songs are also in that directory.

Just as I began reading it I had the feeling that I should really understand how the SID chip works if I really want to make a song. Readme.txt points to the C64 programmer’s Reference Guide (which can be downloaded from here) or to AAY64 Both sound frankly scaring, but I’ll do my best…

Back to the readme.txt, it points out that maybe the songs won’t sound like a true computer would play them. Well, bad luck then. I’ll have to do with what I have, even if there are always C64’s in ebay. It then proceeds to describe lots of changes and differences between versions with a set of terms which are quite obscure at this point. I foresee myself as the darkest mistress of C64 music when I finish reading the readme.txt, though. Ha!

There are also lots of command line options which can be used when starting the program. Since I hardly understand what the majority of them do (with esoteric titles such as hard restart ADSR parameter, reSID interpolation, pulse optimization/skipping, random reSID write delay in cycles, etc), I’ll just ignore them for the time being.

It’s interesting that all the Key shortcuts are listed in the Readme file. Even if you can access an online help screen by pressing F12 while in GoatTracker, it is a bit tedious to alternate between them.

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