The Revolution - History - Part 2


During my youth and early adult life I happened to produce lots of music. Having played here and there in local bands and gigs, there was nothing like fulfilling my own ideas up to the last detail. By the age of 20 I had written already a bunch of songs and performed at some smaller events here and there. But what got me to really realize my musical aspirations was with the help of an Atari STe computer. This box came with no hard drive, but with a MIDI interface, 1 MB of RAM and a floppy drive. I was using the Steinberg Twenty-Four sequencer program to record keyboard and synthesizer tracks on that comp which was syncing via MIDI with my Fostex 8 track tape. Together with a studio worthy 32 track mixer I produced in ‘88 - ‘89 my own record. Still remembering the large vinyl records of that time? Yeah…one of those 12 inch black unhandy plastic disks.

Atari 1040 STe

Back then this was quite a unique approach, even so some of the more advanced fellow musicians started to use computers for music production as well. It allowed me to record the drums, digital piano and synthesizers one by one and store the whole thing on a floppy disk. Since the Atari didn’t had a hard drive (and an external drive was quite expensive), I had to load the program every time into memory at startup. After that step I could load the songs as well. I think that the operating system TOS was stored on some flash memory and was available almost immediately after powering the machine.

Steinberg Twentyfour Sequencer

In order to sync the computer with the multi-track tape which I used to record the vocals, guitars and other acoustic instruments, I had to sacrifice one track for the MIDI data. One had to record at first some MIDI information to the tape, and when playing back or recording to it the computer found within a second or two the right position of the song and started playing as well. In addition to that I could control effect machines like Alesis Midi- and Quadroverb as well, making the mix-down of the of the songs almost fully automated. Since on playback the computer every time directed the various electronic instruments to actually play the songs in real mode I could keep up a quite high quality of the sound. The end product was then stored on a DAT tape which just came on the market. I don’t think the DAT tapes were really successful (and since replaced by recordable CDs), but it allowed me to store the master digitally instead of ordinary magnetic tape. When the record was finally produced I had to bring the DAT machine actually with me to the factory, since they hadn’t any yet ;-)

I used the Atari exclusively for audio MIDI recording and never ran any other program on it. This was my digital multi-track tape, recorder and playground for my ideas. I still have this machine, including the high resolution mono-chrome monitor, wrapped up in a box, moving it along with me wherever I go. I never got the heart to throw it away - it served me extremely well!

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Reader Comments

COOL ! never suspected this to be in background now I know why there is so much harmony :) in things you do.

Any chance for sharing some snippets, instrumental would do.

Mahin.

Yes Eddy, we want some tunes!

Wes