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Instrument help Posted: 2012-09-11 21:03 Reply | Quote

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Hey everyone. I'm kinda new to the whole Famitracker thing and I really want to start making actual songs. I just don't know how to make the instruments I want. Any hints or already-made instruments I can work with? Thanks.

Posted: 2012-09-11 21:31 Reply | Quote


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Click the "Add instrument" button underneath that huge black space on the top-right-hand corner of the screen to create an instrument. Bear in mind that the position of the cursor in the tracker window determines what expansion your instrument will work with.

From there, just read this page and if there's anything on there that isn't clear, then ask questions. Hope the article will be useful!

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Posted: 2012-09-12 21:30 Reply | Quote

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Well I meant I'm not sure how to get the instruments sound the way I want them to.

Posted: 2012-09-12 22:05 Reply | Quote


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Well, how do you want them to sound? We obviously have no way of knowing.

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Posted: 2012-09-12 23:10  (Last Edited: 2012-09-12 23:11) Reply | Quote


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try this

Posted: 2012-09-13 01:18  (Last Edited: 2012-09-13 01:30) Reply | Quote


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loz_ftw wrote:
Well I meant I'm not sure how to get the instruments sound the way I want them to.

Does the instrument sound you have in mind exist in an NES song you've heard? If so:
1) If it's available as an .ftm, load the .ftm and look at the instrument - study its volume envelope, duty cycle envelope, effects used with the note (e.g. if the instrument is accompanied by A04 that means it's dropping in volume once every two frames, and if it has Q11s and R11s that means it's using pitch bends to achieve its timbre, V0xs means it's changing duty cycle mid note...)
2) If it's available as an .nsf, load it using http://rainwarrior.ca/projects/nes/nsfimport.html and study it row by row so you can reproduce it in famitracker
3) If it's from an NES game and you don't have the .nsf for it yet, go to this site ( http://www.zophar.net/ ) and search for its name in the top left corner.
4) If it's only available as .wav/.mp3/etc, you can try slowing it down in e.g. Audacity. But read on...

What if you don't have an example of the sound? Now you need to become familiar with the NES instrument space first-hand, and that means lots of experimentation - don't just play around on the keyboard with it since instruments always sound bad on their own, try making a short song around it.
Here's a breakdown:

--Common volume envelope types are:
--Rise towards a middling volume, then descend slowly ('late attack' / 'violin' / 'flute')
--Start high, immediately become mid, maybe descend slowly ('guitar' / - 'open hi-hat')
--Start high, drop towards low ('fade' / 'xylophone hit' / 'drum hit')
--Cut to 0 after one or two frames ('blip' / 'closed hi-hat')
--Start high, drop exponentially e.g. the quieter it is the longer it is between decrements, e.g. 15 13 11 10 9 8 7 7 6 6 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 4 ... ('piano')
--Also consider keeping the volume steady and rapidly cutting it off before the next note begins, to make the start of the next note more noticable

--The pitch bends that tend to sound the nicest are:
--Starting a semitone or tone away, immediately bending into the desired note (e.g. with Q11 or R11)
--Changing pitch as the note begins to cut - If you do this without a clear destination pitch while the note is still prominent, it sounds bad, but coupled with a volume decrease they go together
--Vibrato - e.g. bouncing the pitch back and forth after you've been holding it for a long time
--Emulating the way a voice or guitar moves to each note rather than instantly becomes each note, e.g. via turning the 3xx effect on/off, or approaching most notes from a bassier note below
--When holding a note across a chord/key change, gradually draw it towards the appropriate note in the new chord/key

--Common arpeggio tricks are:
--Starting the note on, or otherwise having one or two frames of, a different pitch closely related to the desired pitch, e.g. 12 0, 0 5 0, -12 -7 0, 0 -7 0, 0 12 0 0 12 0...
--Making a sweeping arpeggio to imply a chord using just one channel, e.g. | 0 12 4 16 7 19 or | 0 0 4 4 7 7 9 9 (the possibilities are endless, there are a LOT of ways to make nice sounding arps)
--On the triangle channel, since there's no volume it helps to use arpeggio tricks, e.g. -12 0 or 12 0 are my favourites
--On the triangle channel, if you make a fixed arpeggio, drop from B-3 to B-2 over 2 or 5 frames then end the arp you'll get a weak and a strong bass kick followed by the note you specified. You can get stronger, weaker, clubbier and mega-man style kicks depending on start note, end note and how long the kick goes for
--For noise drums, try a fixed arpeggio of 1. You'll get a frame of 1 then the pitch you chose, giving the instrument a sharp 'pop'. Try other fixed arps like 0, 4, 8, 12 and 15. Also try 'sweeps' across the pitch range, e.g. 12 13 14 14 15 or 0 1 2 3 4 3 2 1 0, or try 'arps' of 2-4 different pitches, e.g. | 8 10 12 or | 12 13 14

-Duty cycle
--Memorize what 0, 1 and 2 sound like - not just in octave 3, but also octave 2, 1 and 4. You might THINK you only have access to three timbres, but it's really more like 12 or more!
--Common duty cycle tricks are:
--Having one frame of one duty cycle then swapping to a new one, e.g. 2 0, 2 1 or 0 2.
--Having a rapid change of duty cycles at the beginning, then settling out, e.g. 0 1 2 0 0 1 1 2 2 | 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2
--Changing the duty cycle every note, every other note, every third note...
--Changing the duty cycle at certain events/timings, e.g. half way through notes
--In VRC6, you can make duty cycle sweeps, from 0 to 7, 7 to 0, 0 ro 4, 1 to 5...
--On the noise channel, duty cycle 1 noise sounds like buzzes and brrrts. The very highest pitches make for interesting faux hi-hats while lower ones can be used for glitchy sounds, grating/grinding noises...

--If you can't get the sound you're after with just one instrument... What about if you combine an interval/power chord/octave of both squares, doing the same or different things? What if you use the triangle as one note of an interval or chord? Blitz Lunar uses this technique a lot, e.g. making the triangle play what square 2 is playing but an octave lower, so it sounds like an entirely new instrument.
--If you can't figure out how to make the triangle sound right, e.g. it's too loud, throw in a Z40 or Z70 on the DPCM channel. Now it's a lot quieter and you can do all kinds of new things with it, like uses its highest octaves without it sounding as abrasive.
--If you can't figure out how a drum sound was made in a certain NES song, it might be a DPCM sample not just noise.
--Speaking of drums, have you ever tried combining a triangle downward sweep or square V02 downward sweep with a snare or kick on noise? Megaman 2 uses this technique a lot (Bubble Man, Wood Man)
--Try single channel echos - in the gaps before each note, play the note two notes back at a much lower volume (or e.g. lower octave, higher octave, depending on the quality of echo you want). You can do this fast if you get an empty column, copy onto it, make the transformations you want then 'copy and mix' instead of 'copy and replace' back onto the original channel at the desired offset.
-Try double channel echos - e.g. pay close attention to Bubble Man pulse 2 and triangle
--Combine and remix all of the above to get EPIK FAMITRACKER TOONZ

bite-sized songs inspired by rhythm game music, in Famitracker: http://soundcloud.com/patashu
Posted: 2012-09-13 03:47 Reply | Quote


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Patashu wrote:
[a hell of a lot of great stuff]

Thanks Patashu!

Posted: 2012-09-13 04:12 Reply | Quote


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