Commodore 64 Music in the real world & other related SID stories

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Alpha Drummer, a sample based sequencer

I started looking the other day for a program that someone copied to me back in the days in 1988, it was called Alpha Drummer, it blew me away when I first saw it, it looked so professional and with so 'many' functions... well, here it is, I was 12 years old back then and this is the first sample based sequencer I have ever seen in my life on the Commodore 64.

I want to say that I haven't used this really, I just remembered it and because I just found it again I thought you might want to play with it a bit, specially if you have some sort of sound sampler cartridge.

It basically consisted of 4 main work areas, The main menu with the pattern playlist, the pattern edit view, the mixer view and the sampler view. It's the classic pattern based sequencer like seen on many drum machines, you program each pattern into a grid of 32 beats and then arrange the order in the main pattern playlist.

Obviously the coolest feature of all is that you can sample your own sounds and even change the pitch and then assign it to be an instrument in the sequencer.. sounds amazing to me although I never found out about what hardware you need to sample the sounds..

When you get into sampling mode it even has a synchronised audio start cue thing "Waiting for impulse" it says in fat chunky fonts.. In the sample view is also a print function which I'd like to know what it prints out (A waveform info?).

The mixer screen, a full screen mixer with horizontal faders that you can control with the cursors.. easy.. you can even change the names of the tracks.. making this quite usable, although no realtime control when it's playing. Shame for that.

You can manage your sample kits with Soundpacks, which is a file that contains the sample data and the mixer names. This is a neat way of organizing samples for songs..

And to finish, what I'm not quite sure is how accurate the timing is, which is quite important in a drum machine as you know but I don't have a real Commodore 64 here where I am to fully test it out, so I can't say.

Anyways I'd like to know if someone managed to create any new soundpacks with existing raw samples or to sample new ones with the sampler. Would be interesting to know.


Alpha Drummer V1.4

Editorial Plea: does someone have this 64'er Sonderheft ? It would be very cool if someone could scan the article and send it please.

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