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README.md

README.md

ZeeTracker

Welcome to the ZeeTracker landing page. This page contains the following information;

About ZeeTracker

ZeeTracker is a music composing application designed to provide a fast and fun work flow. The interface is based on mod trackers like Scream Tracker and Impulse Tracker. This means that ZeeTracker is made for regular computer keyboard control. Part of this feature is that almost all interface components support playing notes in response to typing certain things on the keyboard. By default, typing "q", "2" and then "w" will play the corresponding notes C-3, C#3 and then D-3 on the currently selected instrument. This extends all the way up to B-4 when typing "m". In order to provide more control an accent velocity can be played by combining these keys with the Shift key. (Caps Lock is interpreted as a Shift lock).

ZeeTracker is based on the Java MIDI API. It uses the default Java Sequencer and Synthesizer devices and corresponding default sound font. The MIDI standard instrument set was not designed for modern music styles and the Java default sound font is average at best. In order to work around these limitations, ZeeTracker MIDI configuration is mostly limited to instrument configuration. Note and controller events are entered in a ZeeTracker specific format and then translated to MIDI using the instrument configuration. ZeeTracker provides 10 configurable instruments, each with a unique color. Some of these instruments can use multiple MIDI channels in order to combine multiple MIDI instruments into a single ZeeTracker instrument. ZeeTracker also comes with two high quality internal sound fonts and the option to use a custom sound font. The internal sound fonts were created with the free sound font editing software called 'Polyphone'. The sound font samples were created with the professional audio production software called 'Reason'. The Java default Synthesizer is a slightly limited implementation implementation of the Gervill synthesizer created by Karl Helgason. One of those limitations is that the audio output cannot be directly recorded to disk. Zeesoft recommends using the free audio recording and editing software called 'Audacity' to do this.

References;

Internal sound fonts
The two internal ZeeTracker sound fonts provide replacements for the following MIDI instruments;

  • ZeeTrackerDrumKit.sf2
    • 118 Synth Drum
  • ZeeTrackerSynthesizers.sf2
    • 080 Square Wave
    • 081 Saw Wave
    • 082 Syn.Calliope
    • 083 Chiffer Lead
    • 084 Charang
    • 085 Solo Vox
    • 086 5th Saw Wave
    • 087 Bass & Lead
    • 088 Fantasia
    • 089 Warm Pad
    • 090 Polysynth
    • 091 Space Voice
    • 092 Bowed Glass
    • 093 Metal Pad
    • 094 Halo Pad
    • 095 Sweep Pad
    • 096 Ice Rain
    • 097 Soundtrack

Please note that these internal sound fonts are not General MIDI compliant.

Demo compositions

Recordings of the demo compositions included in the application are available on SoundCloud;

Screen shots

Composition tab
The composition tab is used to configure tempo, structure and internal sound font usage for the composition. The composition tab

Instruments tab
The instruments tab is used to configure the instruments. The currently selected instrument is indicated by the background color of the tab selector. The instruments tab

Patterns tab
The patterns tab is used to create composition event patterns. Notes can be added in the grid by selecting the desired position in the grid and then playing one or more notes on the keyboard. By holding notes down and scrolling down in the grid using the cursor at the same time, the duration of the notes being played can be customized. Volume, modulation and filter controls can be added using the space bar. Slides between control values are generated by the composition to MIDI sequence conversion. Further event customization can be done by selecting a group of notes or controls and then using specific key combinations and/or the grid mouse pop up menu. The patterns tab

Sequence tab
The pattern sequence tab is used to define pattern sequences. The pattern sequence tab

Mix tab
The mix tab is used to balance the volumes and pan of the individual instruments and the composition as a whole. Side chain compression is achieved by generating a lot of volume control events over the pattern volume controls. This might take a few seconds for an entire composition so in that case the composition to MIDI conversion is done in several steps where side chain compression is added later. The mix tab

Settings tab
The settings tab is used to configure default composition settings and custom sound font usage. The entire current composition instrument configuration can be saved as a default for new compositions. This includes internal sound font usage and mixer settings. Custom sound font changes require a program restart to take effect. The settings tab

Requirements and download

The most recent ZeeTracker version is 1.1. Users with Java 1.8 installed can download the executable jar file here (+- 8 MB). Windows users without Java can download a standard executable here (+- 50 MB). ZeeTracker requires about 200 MB of working memory. Using a custom sound font will require more working memory, depending on the size of the sound font. The windows executable will require about 150 MB of free disk space.

Future development

The following features are on the wish list for a possible 1.2 release;

  • ZSC integration
  • Programmable LFOs
  • Shuffle

Source code

ZeeTracker is open source. The application consists of the following libraries;