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Amiga Desktop Audio and Video Discuss Amiga related Audio and Video creation & manipulation here. post links to your songs, videos, hardware/software reviews etc.....

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Old 11-27-2011, 12:06 PM   #1
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Default Making music w/Paula

Hey there. I'm curious what sort of music generation programs are out there for the A500. I'm especially interested in a program I could use to generate sounds from Paula via MIDI externally. I have my A500 and I've always loved the nasty 8bit sounds and music from the games I had. I did a lot of music production on my A500 back in the day, but I only used it to generate MIDI to external devices, (using Bars & Pipes) not to trigger sounds from Paula, which I don't think Bars & Pipes had the capability to do that.

I've been a long time fan (and user) of the C64's SID chip as well and have been using it for a lot of crazy stuff in the last 6 years or so. You can see some of the work I did using SID on some cartoons here:
(specifically I used HARDSID hardware w/4 SID chips installed)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jn-61eEbAA
http://youtu.be/0y-S3qQmCxk
http://youtu.be/_Iwl7oPz-k0

and this one, that was half done with a live band and half w/a C64 (ok, an SX64 if you want to get technical...and I know you do.)

http://youtu.be/-vEBB4_75gI

In all honesty, the HARDSID only works in a PC environment, and while I do have PCs around, my mac is what I use in the studio. Also, I'd like to start experimenting with triggering sounds from my old A500 via MIDI, and learning more about Paula's synth capabilities.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

w
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Just to be clear, the best case scenario would be a program that allows me to send 4 channels of midi to A500 and trigger the 4 voices of Paula, and have the flexibility to allow me to program/edit the sounds (patches if you will) on each voice...

Thanks!
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

I am only aware of a few programs that allow MIDI triggering of samples through Paula. I know that OctaMED Professional can do this. But it seems to me that what you after is the real-time synthesis side of Paula? Musicline editor is the best at this I believe but I don't know if you can control this via MIDI.
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:30 PM   #4
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Yeah, it's real time synthesis I'm hoping for... Maybe there's something somewhere?

Thanks for the reply. I will see if I can find the Musicline editor and experiment with that. It's still possible w/out midi, but not quite as efficient...
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Old 11-27-2011, 01:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Nice toons there! The sounds match really well to an oldie black and white cartoon like that.

How do you like the HardSID? Which one did you get ?
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Thanks! I was using the Quattro when I did those cartoons. Now I have a Hardsid 4u. It works, however there are no mac drivers, which is a real pain for me. The interface works, but there's some basic functionality (copy and pasting of paramaters etc) that's missing. They say they basically do it as a hobby, and it's a very niche market, so they don't really do much in updates, etc.

That being said, if they made mac drivers for it, (which they did promise for some time and was the reason I originally upgraded to a 4u) with all the music that's made on macs (especially in the US) and all the interest in 8bit music of late, I think they would be able to recoup their costs and then some. But what do I know? I'm a freakin' trombone player.

All in all, it's the only hardware oriented device out there that has the flexibility for folks like me that want to do more with it than play sidtunes. With 4 chips installed that's 12 voices of SID! How incredibly over the top!!! And, there's much less noise from these things than from using a C64 directly. (and much less a mad science project, too...)

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Old 11-27-2011, 02:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Ok, so it does more than just play back SID tunes, their website does not do a good job explaining it to musician types.

I can use it as a sound source, use it with a MIDI ?

I am trying to finish up my mad scientist C64 currently. Which is partly fun and a mess, true. If it all goes to flames, maybe I can put my chips into one of these.
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Yeah, it can be used as a sound source. It's the only one that does with the potential of 12 voices, too. Not bad at all, considering what's (not) available in that world.

The "Buffalo Head" cartoon used a SX64, a midi interface through the cartridge port, and the program M64. Getting M64 from the internet to the SX64 was a serious science project... ended up somehow sending the program from my mac using a MIDI Sysex dump. Lots of fun, but only would want to do that once, you dig.
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Old 11-27-2011, 03:11 PM   #9
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatboy View Post
Getting M64 from the internet to the SX64 was a serious science project... ended up somehow sending the program from my mac using a MIDI Sysex dump.
HFS! - We should send you an award / trophy for that.


Thanks for the info.
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatboy View Post
Yeah, it can be used as a sound source. It's the only one that does with the potential of 12 voices, too. Not bad at all, considering what's (not) available in that world.

The "Buffalo Head" cartoon used a SX64, a midi interface through the cartridge port, and the program M64. Getting M64 from the internet to the SX64 was a serious science project... ended up somehow sending the program from my mac using a MIDI Sysex dump. Lots of fun, but only would want to do that once, you dig.
You can use MSSIAH via MIDI, and it supports up to 2 SID chips. It also does samples - that you dump over MIDI sysex...


As for the Amiga most software just used Paula as a sample playback device. The synth capabilities were hardly used.

Older versions of Med and possibly Octamed support the synth functionality (IIRC they were called chip sounds).

Another program worth looking for is Aegis Sonix. It doesn't support MIDI but it is a proper synth.


For playing normal samples over MIDI there's a program called MidiIN that I believe supports normal 8bit Paula sounds. I haven't used it (I did download it but never installed it yet...)

I got it for much the same purpose as you - Playing 4 channel audio over MIDI (I also just ordered a C64 & MSSIAH).


There's a thread here about MidiIN here:
http://www.amiga.org/forums/showthread.php?t=53999
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Old 11-27-2011, 07:10 PM   #11
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Question Paula vs SID

Quote:
Originally Posted by minator View Post

As for the Amiga most software just used Paula as a sample playback device. The synth capabilities were hardly used.
Ya know, this is something I never quite understood, and I've contemplated on more than one occasion. Was the music on (for example) Beast II and NY Warriors sample based and not synthesized using Paula? Maybe I misunderstood how the music was created. No one really touts Paula like they do the SID, but the music that came out of my Amiga was (and still is) pretty great. I don't even see a lot of info re: the chip's synthesizer capabilities (waveforms, filters, etc) out here on the internets. Is Paula lacking in this area, or was it that the sample thing was such a new and exciting technology at the time that it overshadowed such antiquated technology as synthesis?

Just curious...
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Old 11-27-2011, 07:54 PM   #12
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Default Re: Paula vs SID

Holy smokes.

A little bit of research and suddenly I find Ultimate Tracker and Noise Tracker.... and the Demo Scene sound. Oh, my wasted youth. Had I only been hip to this stuff back in the day. I was aware of it through the software I obtained, but never was in a position to be a part of it. On top of that, I grew up in a pretty rural area before internet... and my parents were too cheap to let me use the phone to call up out of town BBS systems... Or at least that's the excuse I'll give.

So, those sounds WERE sample based, and mostly created using trackers. I may have to mess around with that a little to get a gist of what they were all about...

Fascinating.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:31 PM   #13
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Default Re: Paula vs SID

Where did you find Noise Tracker? I can't seem to find that one in my collection, nor can I find a download link for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatboy View Post
Holy smokes.

A little bit of research and suddenly I find Ultimate Tracker and Noise Tracker.... and the Demo Scene sound. Oh, my wasted youth. Had I only been hip to this stuff back in the day. I was aware of it through the software I obtained, but never was in a position to be a part of it. On top of that, I grew up in a pretty rural area before internet... and my parents were too cheap to let me use the phone to call up out of town BBS systems... Or at least that's the excuse I'll give.

So, those sounds WERE sample based, and mostly created using trackers. I may have to mess around with that a little to get a gist of what they were all about...

Fascinating.
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Old 11-28-2011, 01:53 AM   #14
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Default Re: Paula vs SID

Paula was primarily a Sample chip, and to have 4 independent sample channels on a computer back in the mid 80's was pretty awesome (look at the prices of samplers like the Emulator, Fairlight and Synclavier at the time)... So it made sense to take full advantage of that if you were developing a game... Rich, full sounds rather than simple bleeps and bloops. IIRC Paula could modulate one channel with another, so you could set up a simple waveform (a very small looped sample) then mess around with it... Nothing really exciting. Sample playback was the exciting thing, but then all computers got that (at better quality), and it became the norm.

Personally I love the dirty sample sound of Paula, far more than the pure synth of SID... But it's much easier to make something which sounds a mess with Paula than with SID, so probably doesn't gain much traction with today's brain dead producers...
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Old 11-28-2011, 04:08 AM   #15
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

I thought protracker/noisetracker/octamed would allow you to trigger samples via midi?

I also understood Paula was *only* a sample based synth and could not synthesise sounds itself? You always had to load a basic waveform 'sample'.
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:36 AM   #16
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Amiga sound hardware was pretty much a 4 channel DAC + very simple muffler...I mean filter. Not even hardware controlled panning...just 2 pairs 100% volume wired left and right phono socket.

Even with AGA all they had to do was add more DACs and that would have been fine. In 1985 it was a genius idea really.
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Old 11-28-2011, 07:21 AM   #17
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Might be the time to point to this thread:

http://www.amiga.org/forums/showthre...sis#post575655
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Old 11-28-2011, 07:41 AM   #18
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Default Re: Paula vs SID

Quote:
Originally Posted by XDelusion View Post
Where did you find Noise Tracker? I can't seem to find that one in my collection, nor can I find a download link for it.
Sorry, I wasn't clear on that one. I meant I had just discovered the existence of such a thing... My bad.
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:13 AM   #19
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Wow. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world. Thanks for all this info.

Actually, the excuse I gave earlier was mis-timed. Maybe the whole rural thing was more of the reason I was never aware of the C64 demo scene... Though, I was a member of my local computer club, which was basically just an excuse for everyone to bring their C64 and 1541s and copy a buttload of games.

I got my Amiga when I was in college, where I was studying music and computer science. I mostly used it for my programming classes (logging into the VAX computer etc) and used my Lattice C compiler for working on my C projects for class at home. I digress, but I never had the time to really delve into music making on the Amiga. I toyed with Bars and Pipes a little w/my external MIDI gear, but that was it. That was a serious bebop phase for me and I was pretty hostile to electronic music at that time, even though I did a lot of SID composing when I was in high school. I wasn't hostile to games though, go figure, and I loved the music. Shadow of the Beast II blew my friggin' mind. Funny how my brain wouldn't let me see the connection... music is music. The positive side to this is that with my tunnel vision I am now a professional trombone player in NYC. One could say that's the negative side too...heh heh

Anyhoo, my point here is that I completely missed this scene and this type of music making. It's interesting as it's both completely complex (it seems that to really take advantage of a lot of the features of the chip musically, you've got to have your coding chops together as well...though the SID, back then, wasn't much different one could argue I suppose, it seemed easier to me...and certainly easier to understand being that it could be approached as basic analog subtractive synthesis) and insanely simple, when compared to modern sampling and digital production. (I'm typing this on my "octacore" Mac Pro w/10GB of RAM that I stuff full with a full orchestra's worth of 24 bit samples for my composing work, when I must...)

If these trackers can be triggered by MIDI, my evil plans may still be able to come to fruition, but until I get my hands on a tracker and start experimenting to really understand what this is all about, I'll have to see. Again, MIDI triggering isn't a game changer, but it does make my job a lot easier.

Thanks for pointing out that other thread, ral-clan. I'm starting to understand a little better.

I'm excited! Now that I see I may have the potential to add another great, unique sound to my palette here in the studio, my A500 might finally be used for more than self serving nostalgic trips.
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:29 AM   #20
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Default Re: Making music w/Paula

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blatboy View Post
Maybe the whole rural thing was more of the reason I was never aware of the C64 demo scene...

I digress, but I never had the time to really delve into music making on the Amiga. I toyed with Bars and Pipes a little w/my external MIDI gear, but that was it. That was a serious bebop phase for me and I was pretty hostile to electronic music at that time

Thanks for pointing out that other thread, ral-clan. I'm starting to understand a little better.
You're welcome. I felt much the same as you...although I was into synths in the 1980s, by the time 1990 rolled around I was deep into traditional Celtic music (rather than Bebop) and actively avoided electronic music and synths, etc.

Because of this I missed out on the full potential of trackers and chipsounds, which I only came to appreciate (re-appreciate) once the Amiga was a retro-computer. I sort of feel I didn't take full advantage of the potential offered by a simple Amiga 500 and a tracker in the late 1980s and early 1990s (I thought I needed expensive external sound modules, multitrack decks and keyboards and things I couldn't afford at the time). I had the "...if only I had the (insert latest and greatest piece of gear or Amiga expansion here) I could *finally* make professional sounding music..." syndrome, instead exploring the potential of what I had on my desktop.

In my own defense, this was before the days of the web when you could help from other Amiga users, so the first time I opened a tracker (without the benefit of a user manual) it looked like an intimidating machine language hexadecimal editor of some sort. I left trackers alone for many years because of that.

I'm still seriously into traditional Celtic music, but now can appreciate both genres (and many others) and I don't mind combining sounds from the two.

I discovered the wonderful Bars & Pipes rather late (1997-ish) but I really love it and still use it all the time (it works great under emulation) for MIDI work.

By the way...your animations and great. What software you use to make them???

Last edited by ral-clan; 11-28-2011 at 11:51 AM..
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