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What is a Music Tracker?

Music trackers have long been a cornerstone of electronic music production. They provide an alternative and versatile workflow for musicians. Originating from the demoscene culture, music trackers have evolved into sophisticated software applications that enable precise control over musical elements. Let’s dive into the world of music trackers and explore the transformative impact they have on contemporary music!

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A music tracker is a workplace that allows musicians, composers, and producers to create, arrange, and sequence music. From notes and samples to effects, musicians can have precise control over musical elements on the grid-based interface of a music tracker. 
 

Music trackers originated in the demoscene culture in the late 1980s. They were born out of the need to create soundtracks for video games that were rising in popularity during the day and have evolved into versatile tools for electronic music production. 
 

Their pattern-based composition interface allows musicians to repeat, arrange, and manipulate patterns to build complete compositions. With features like channel control, sample-based sequencing, and effects, music trackers offer musicians a unique and powerful way to unleash their creativity and bring their musical visions to life.

What Does a Music Tracker Do?

With its silicone cells and various grid buttons, a music tracker is a digital playground of musical expression! Each step in the grid typically contains a note, an instrument, and a variety of modifiers that can range from audio effects like reverb or delay sense to techniques such as arpeggios, vibratos, note randomizations, volume adjustments, and much more. 
 

Now, here's the fun part: in a music tracker, every step in the grid can play a different instrument. Also, you can use the modifiers on the tracker to spice up your music with some audio effects.  You've got ratchets, filters, LFOs (low-frequency oscillators), overdrive, and even adjustments for bit depth. And that's not all - you can add reverb, delay, and other awesome effects to give your music that extra sparkle and depth.

What is a Music Tracker?

Music Tracker Genre

Now that we’ve talked about how the music tracker works, we can jump onto what genre of music you can create by using a music tracker. 
 

Have you ever heard about module music or chiptune? It is a style of electronic music that has its roots in the demoscene and tracker music culture. 
 

What sets the music produced with a music tracker apart is the tracker’s distinctive electronic sounds, synth engines, looping patterns, and the delightful touch of nostalgia it adds to music compositions. It is like taking a trip down memory lane to the early days of video games and computer music. 

Today, the music produced with a music tracker encompasses various subgenres and styles, making it an essential part of the electronic music landscape. From energetic and fast-paced tunes to atmospheric techno, the tracker music genre offers a wide range of sonic experiences and styles.

 

If you want to add a little bit of nostalgic touch to your music, you can use the Dirtywave M8 tracker alongside your main music tracker. By experimenting with phrases and tables, you can achieve the glitchy-retro vibe of music from old video games.

 

But we know that not everyone can use a music tracker to create nostalgic video gaming music or electronic music of any sort. You might be reading this article just for the fun of it, and may not know the second thing about music production. 
 

And that’s okay, because we’ve got it covered for you! If you are in need of high-quality music and sound effects for your creative projects, social media content, podcasts, or ads, you can check out our extensive royalty-free music and SFX catalog. 


From music for videogaming and electronic dance music to intro and transition music for podcasts, our catalog encompasses various genres, moods, and usage areas you can explore to take add that perfect musical touch to your creative projects.

What is a Sound Tracker?

While the name might not be as commonly known, a sound tracker is essentially the same thing as a music tracker - so there isn’t anything to uncover here!

Navigating the Interface of Music Trackers

Let's explore the features and tools that make music trackers a unique and inspiring platform for musicians, producers, and enthusiasts like you.

 

  • Grids: The grid-based interface is what makes music trackers so easy to control and navigate. For example, the Polyend Tracker features 48 silicone buttons on its grid composed of 12 buttons on each of the four rows. Each row basically starts with an octave, and you can choose different instruments to play on the grid. 
  • Patterns: One of the defining features of music trackers is pattern-based composition. Artists can create patterns, which are small sections of music that can be repeated and arranged to build entire compositions. 
  • Samples: You can incorporate and manipulate various audio samples, triggering and controlling them at precise points in your composition. This gives you complete control over the texture, rhythm, and sonic palette of your music.
  • Instruments: The instrument button on the mechanical keyboard allows you to adjust volume controls, tuning adjustments, panning options, resonant filters, delay and reverb sends, ADSRs (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release), LFOs (Low-Frequency Oscillators), and even overdrive effects. These tools work together to bring your samples to life, adding depth, character, and sonic richness to create an instrument that captivates the listener.
  • Sound Effects: Music trackers offer a wide range of options for sound effects, from reverb and delay to distortion and beyond. You can connect different sound effects pathways to each other to enhance the sonic quality and atmosphere of your compositions.
  • Channel Control: Each channel represents a specific instrument or sound, allowing you to apply unique settings, effects, and automation to shape the characteristics of each sound source.
What is a Music Tracker?

Using Patterns and Channels on Music Trackers

Mastering the use of music trackers lies in understanding how you can adjust patterns and channels controls. Channels provide control over individual tracks, allowing for independent adjustments of volume, panning, and effects. 
 

On the other hand, patterns don't just stand alone, they are the building blocks of larger musical structures.You can freely add and delete slots that contain patterns, and mix tracks from different patterns to tweak and experiment with your music in real-time and add a spontaneous flair to your performance.

Sample Sequencing

Effects are your secret weapon for transforming the very essence of your sounds. With just a touch of reverb, delay, or distortion, you can reshape the sonic characteristics, adding depth, ambience, and even grit to your compositions. Modulation techniques, like vibrato and pitch slides, provide additional depth and variation as well.

 

You can also add multiple effects to your music compositions as well. For example, when you add a FX2, the secondary effect in music trackers act as a bridge between the primary effect. This creates a transformative pathway and establishes a connection that shapes the journey of your sound. 

Advanced Techniques: Effects, Automation, and Modulation in Music Trackers

Effects are your secret weapon for transforming the very essence of your sounds. With just a touch of reverb, delay, or distortion, you can reshape the sonic characteristics, adding depth, ambiance, and even grit to your compositions. Modulation techniques, like vibrato and pitch slides, provide additional depth and variation as well. 
 

You can also add multiple effects to your music compositions as well. For example, when you add a FX2, the secondary effect in music trackers acts as a bridge between the primary effect. This creates a transformative pathway and establishes a connection that shapes the journey of your sound. 

Music Tracker App & Music Tracker for Android

Unfortunately, neither Polyend nor Dirtywave offer IOS or Android music tracker apps that are compatible with their music tracker devices.

The Impact of Music Trackers on the Future of Music Production

Music trackers have played a significant role in the landscape of music production since their inception in the 1980s. As technology continues to advance, music trackers become more portable and user-friendly. Thais is why they are the perfect choice for artists on the go.

 

Furthermore, open-source music, which encourages collaboration, sharing, and modification of musical works, aligns perfectly with the ethos of music trackers. As the community around music trackers continues to expand, we can anticipate a wealth of open-source resources, including samples, instruments, and templates, becoming readily available to musicians worldwide. This collaborative environment fosters creativity, enabling artists to build upon existing works and create new, innovative compositions.
 

However, if you are looking for open-source free music for video editing for your personal or commercial brand project, keep in mind that using open-source music in your projects might be helpful in terms of adding that extra magical musical touch you are looking for. 

 

Wondering where you can find high-quality music for your videos, content, and ads? Here, at Snapmuse! From tropical house and funk to soul and indie music, our library features a wide collection of professional and authentic royalty-free music and sound effects across various genres, moods, and usage areas. 

 

Explore our royalty-free music and SFX catalog today to find the right musical backdrop to take your content to the next level!

Conclusion: What is a Music Tracker?

Similar to AI music generators, music trackers opened an alternative and experimentative way for musicians and producers for sure. If you feel lost finding your way around the complex features of DAWs, starting out with a music tracker might be just what you need!

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