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The ALEX VAN STARREX Website


SOLO CDS: MOD & MIDI


INTRODUCTION

I'd owned a Commodore 64 computer since 1984 and used it to create some fairly rudimentary music (I have a tape of the best songs, to which I added other instruments - this may see release in some form). But in 1988 the purchase of an Amiga 500 really set me off on the a course of exploring computer music. I started working with the Deluxe Music Construction Set, then switched to MED and OctaMED for sample-base MODs. In 1993, with the purchase of an Amiga 1200 and a MIDI keyboard, I switched to MIDI music-making.

ORIGINAL MUSIC CDs & CDRs

Any reservations I have about these discs are noted in italics. Example songs - available in RealAudio - are noted in orange, and appear at the bottom of this page.

EARLY COMPUTER MUSIC

- Frankensongs: This music pre-dates my "mod" period. In 1989-90, with my Commodore Amiga computer, I abandoned the instruments of the "Deluxe Music Construction Set" in favour of often-bizarre sampled sounds from my CDs and LPs. DMCS needed a low sample rate in order to accept the 'instruments', which were playable over less than 1 octave, but I still put together several disks worth of songs. This CD comes from a "best of" tape that I made around that time - using mixing and reverb to create a 'dub' mix of the songs. Because almost all the samples come from commercial recordings, I can't "release" this CD properly.

MOD-BASED MUSIC

- Dance To It: These recordings come from my 4-track Amiga/MED MOD/tracker modules from 1989 to 1992, and are based around a common theme of dance music, mostly with vocal samples of some type as well. Because these songs are so old, there are some diversions into "funky drummer" and "house"-land, but the results are surprisingly contemporary. Still, the sound is 8-bit and 4-track - so don't expect too much.

- Modern Art: In August 1991, my "Art of MED"disk was released simultaneously in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, England and America. It contained around 5.5 hours of MOD/tracker music on a single 3.5" double density floppy disk. "Modern Art" contains excerpts of seven of the original twelve songs from Art of MED. This was taken from a tape, and a better quality version is possible, despite the 8-bit samples.

- Octarock: Some more MOD/tracker music, this time in 8-channels. These songs were originally created in 1991, using "OctaMED" versions 1 and 2. Unlike Modern Art (which was transferred from tape), I cut these tracks directly while playing them from within the PC - though I used the "reverb" and "bass expansion" settings, which was a mistake. A proper re-recording is necessary.

- OctaStuff: The songs on this disc come from my 1992 "OctaStuff" disc - the last time I used OctaMED to make sample-based music. The disc (which was released into the 'Public Domain' and was quite popular in England) was created as a test/review of the latest version of OctaMED. Having only 4 songs on a CD (the longest is 24 minutes) makes for monotony, and I never really liked using the music-program anyway - due to its limitations.

- MED-Dreams: This was the last sample-based MOD-music I ever made. Done in 1992, I tried to capture in 4 tracks what I'd used OctaMED to do in 8. The music on this 6-song disc varies wildly from one song to the next: symphonic, pop, hip-hop, heavy metal, dance and, lastly, pornography. The songs were faded-out to fit on disc and the disc is currently too long to be copied.

- Midi Med Mods: Around 1995 I used "OctaMED Soundstudio" to convert a number of old 4-track MED-MODs to MIDI - switching the samples for MIDI-channels, and adding (mostly percussion) tracks to fill out the sound. The results have good sound-quality, but sound somewhat "linear" - due to the MOD-origins.

MIDI-BASED MUSIC

- Ultra Commercial: This features most of the songs I recorded in a marathon session on 17-18 February 1993, using only the built in sequencer on my Roland E-35, with its 'auto-accompaniment'. The limited memory of the E-35 meant that the songs were all 1.5-2.5 minutes long - so there are 33 songs on the CD! This is often very commercial sounding music, but with inspiration, humour and some tight playing.Virtuality
- Virtuality: This is a selection of my first properly multitracked MIDI songs (i.e. made using music software - in this case Dr. T's "Tiger Cub - as opposed to the built-in sequencer on my E-35). The selection dates from sometime in 1993, and was originally recorded to cassette - from which I've recorded these tracks. This disc has now been replaced by the "Virtual Guitar", "Virtuality-A" & "Virtuality-B" discs.
 
- Instrumental Overkill: This is a later set of MIDI songs (again recorded from tape), made using "Bars & Pipes Professional". The songs sound better than the Virtuality songs, but the performances - particularly the solos - are not as inspired. At least one song needs a MIDI remix, and I will have re-record the songs direct from MIDI to disk, as in Ambience.
 
- Ambience: (see "Mystery"below) The Ambience songs were created as MIDI files in 1994 - moody, atmospheric pieces with sparse backgrounds and sensitive lead playing on a variety of virtual instruments - acoustic guitar, piano, synthesiser, voice, etc. I could easily cut
three tracks off and re-do the cover for proper commercial release, but there are far more exciting CDs to listen to. Featured at http://www.mp3.com.au/AlexVanStarrex/.

- Virtual Guitar: Since the "Virtuality"songs weren't based on MIDI-files, a re-recording meant connecting my Amiga to my Roland E-35, and then running the audio out to my Gateway PC. I started recording the tracks using some floppy disks numbered 1 and 2 - these turned out to be a collection of only the acoustic guitar-based compositions, specially remixed. This has proved to be one of my best discs. Featured at http://www.mp3.com.au/AlexVanStarrex/.

- Virtuality-A: While re-recording the "Virtuality" songs, I found that there were some excellent songs left of the disc, as well as others that I'd liked to have kept for reference - so the replacement became two discs. "Virtuality-A"contains the best early-to-middle period songs. Only when I finished did I realise that I'd left off two of the best songs - but these are on "Virtual Guitar"anyway. Featured at http://www.mp3.com.au/AlexVanStarrex/.

- Virtuality-B: This is the opposite of "Virtuality-A" - the lesser and (mainly) later songs, with the worst ones left off altogether. Still, there are some interesting tunes and experiments here, as well as some songs that just didn't fit on the first disc. Ultimately however, this disc is one for completists only.

- From Nostalgia To Obscurity: This disc features my last 18 MIDI songs, composed from July to October 1998 and recorded direct to disk via my Roland E-35 synth. Due to my 5 years experience with MIDI, plus an enormous amount of re-recording and rearrangement of track order, this is virtually a professional sounding CD, however the artificiality of the performances can be unsettling. Featured at http://www.mp3.com.au/AlexVanStarrex/.

- NOTE: I attempted a 2003 re-recording of the "Instrumental Overkill" songs but was very unhappy with the results - I'll try again.

MIDI+GUITAR MUSIC

- Baroque Jazz: I made the Baroque Jazz series of MIDI-files in 1995, but wasn't happy with them. Now I've redone the lead instrumental lines, while recording the results direct to disk (albiet with two "glitches" in the recording). The instrumental voicings are now drums, acoustic bass, 'rhythm' piano (with the two 'hands' made up of separately recorded lines) and acoustic guitar.

- Jazz Country: In 1996 I tried mixing digital/MIDI songs with overdubbed guitar lines, by stripping the "top" instrumental lines from a collection of MIDI-songs and using the results as two of four final channels. The experiment was a failure, but I've now added fresh twin-guitar lines using my Yamaha mini electro-acoustic guitar. I may still re-record the tapes to CD since the mix wasn't perfect - we'll see.

FUTURE RELEASES

some

REAL AUDIO FILE TO STREAM/DOWNLOAD (RealPlayer required to play this)

This file is highly compressed and in mono - the original recording sounds much better.

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URL: http://homepages.tig.com.au/~avanstar
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Alex Van Starrex