Original URL: http://egnatia.ee.auth.gr/~nalevrid/enf/efasttracker.html

Temple Of MOD - Fasttracker Tutorial - English
Fasttracker II is one of the most commonly used programs for creating and processing MOD (or XM) files . That 's why I've decided to include to the site a page that could help a new user of this tracker to write his/her first piece . In this tutorial my basic aim is to show how a simple module is created . The quality of the piece and its melody is not important at this point . The most important thing is to find out how this tracker works and then you can use your talent to create some nice tunes .

I suppose you already have a collection of samples (you can find some in the samples section of the site) and of course the latest version of Fasttracker .

Fasttracker Screenshot

1st Step : Sound Card Configuration

First of all , if you want to work with Fasttracker , you should choose the appropriate settings for your sound card . This can be achieved through the config menu . At the main screen of the program click on the CONFIG (3) button . The upper half of the screen changes and now you can determine the Output Device and the Sampling Device (usually sound blaster) . Then you can determine the settings for the card (PORT , IRQ , DMA) . If all the numbers are correct the sound card should work fine . You can confirm that by loading and playing a module . Click on the SAVE CONFIG and EXIT buttons . Then click on DISK OP. (4) and choose a module (MOD , XM , S3M) from one of the directories of your disk . Now click EXITor DISK OP. (4) again to return to the main screen . With the PLAY SNG. (6) button or by pressing the right CTRL you can hear the loaded module . If it sounds good then everything is fine . Usually when something is wrong with the settings Fasttracker plays only the first seconds of the track and then stops .

2nd Step : Starting

And now it's time to begin working with fasttracker . To get rid of the module loaded in memory you press STOP , ZAP (7) and then ALL . Now you can start working with your first module . A module is a set of sampled sounds and a list of notes to be played by each sound (instrument most of the times) . The samples are placed in the upper right corner of the screen (positions 1 , 2 , e.t.c.) . The notes are placed on the pattern which is in the lower half of the screen (the 8 parallel columns shown in the picture) . Each one of these columns hosts usually the notes for one instrument and is called track . To import the notes you will use the keyboard which is transformed by fasttracker to something like a harmonium . The buttons Z to M are a string of notes (C to B) and the buttons A to L host the sharps of these notes . So we have Z=C , S=C# , X=D , D=D# , e.t.c. . The same thing happens with the buttons Q to ] and 1 to = . So you can imagine the keyboard as a small harmonium .

3rd Step : Choosing Samples

Now you can proceed to the selection of the samples that will be used in your module . To simplify the operation lets suppose that you are going to edit only the beat of the song . Click on the DISK OP. (4) button and from the options found in the upper left corner of the screen choose Samples instead of Modules . Then go to the directory of the disk where the samples are stored and choose a bass drum (bdrum) . After you load it you can hear how it sounds by pressing some buttons on the keyboard . If there is a note where the sample sounds good , keep it . If the sample doesn't sound good you can load another one in its place until you find the best . Now you have to choose a snare drum from the samples' directory . You do the same things with the snare drum except from one thing : before loading the sample you should change the position where the sample will be loaded so that it won't replace the bass drum . This is  done by clicking on the position (2) at the upper right corner of the screen . Then you can load the second sample . Now you are ready to edit a very simple beat .

4th Step : Editing

Now if you want to create a beat you will simply have to place the notes for each instrument (bass drum , snare drum) in a single track . When you choose the sample you usually find the note that it sounds better (this is for the drums because the other instruments sound good in all the notes) . Let's say that for the bass drum this note is A (button N) and for the snare drum the note is C (button Q) . Now you have to place the notes on the tracks (vertical columns 1 to 7) . To make it easier you should put the bass drum in track 0 and the snare drum in track 1 (most of the times you can put them together in the same track but there's no need to do that) . You can move between the tracks with the TAB button . So you go to track 0 and , after you pick sample 01 (bass drum) from the upper right corner , you start the editing . If you press the space bar the screen border becomes blue and now you can place notes on the track . Let's say that you want the bass drum to sound with one hit after another . You go to position 00 of track 0 with the cursor keys and press the N button . Then you leave three positions empty and press again the N button . If you do that several times you will reach the end of the track (No 63) . You can leave more empty positions between two hits of the bass drum to make it hit slowly . If you make a mistake during the editing you can correct it with the Insert , the Delete and the Backspace button . Now if you click on the PLAY SNG. (6) button or press the right CTRL key you can hear the bass drum . If it sounds good you can proceed with the snare drum . You stop the module with STOP and you press TAB to move to track 1 . If there's no blue border in the screen you press the space button and from the samples you pick the snare drum . With the cursor keys you move to position 02 of track 1 and start placing the notes for the snare . You begin from position 02 so that the hit of the snare drum follows the hit of the bass drum . You press the Q button and again leave three positions empty . You continue until you reach the end of the track . If nothing went wrong , you have just finished your first drum loop .

5th Step : Adding

Let's say that after the beat is played once (one pattern) you want to add a bass . You have finished pattern 00 and now you can proceed to 01 . This can be achieved by adding a new pattern to the module . In the upper left corner of the screen you can see the patterns of your module . Until now the song had only one pattern so you only see pattern 00 in position 00 . If you click on INS. (9) you can add position 01 that now has pattern 00 . However , you want the song to continue with a new pattern so by pressing button (13) you move to position 01 . Then you click on button (11) and force the program to play pattern 01 at position 01 (it's much easier than it sounds!!) . Now in the main screen you see pattern 01 which is of course empty . The drums can stay the same so you have to copy them from pattern 00 . You move to pattern 00 and press CTRL+F4 . Then you return to pattern 01 and press CTRL+F5 . You see the drum notes appearing on the screen and you can now move to track 2 and start editing the bass .

6th Step : Melody

 Writing the notes for the bass is a much more complex operation because the notes and the empty positions between them vary . On the upper right corner of the screen you click on the position 3 of the samples and through the DISK OP. (4) menu you load a bass . Obviously you are going to use track 2 which is empty to place the notes of the bass . The best thing you can do now is to form a tune in you mind or using the keyboard (better with the keyboard) . Now , you have to import the tune to the track . First of all you have to find the keyboard buttons with the notes found in your tune (e.g. if you have a tune with the notes A , C# , D you have to find the keys that represent these notes - N , 2 , W) . After you finish with that you can press the space bar (blue border) and start the editing . To edit the tune as successfully as possible you have to keep always in mind that the duration of a note depends on the empty positions you leave before you place the next one . At the beginning (when you won't have much experience) it is almost certain that the tune will have mistakes . The only thing you can do is to hear the pattern again and again with PLAY PTN (5) until you correct all the mistakes . The best thing you can do to find the mistakes is to hear only track 2 which contains the tune . You can do that by clicking on the osciloscope . If you click on channels 0 and 1 an "X" will appear and now fasttracker will play only the other tracks . By clicking on the "X"s you can activate these tracks again . Using this method , after some adjustments , the tune will sound exactly as you imagined it . In your first few songs the editing of the tunes won't be an easy thing . However , some simple rules can help you at the beginning . For example , a good sign for knowing if the editing goes well is the half of the track (Position 32 or position 20 if you use HEX count) . Usually , at these positions you place a note and most of the times a new bar begins .

7th Step : Completing Songs

Obviously what you've wrote until now is far from a complete module . However , now you know the basic operations of the program and you can add new patterns , new tracks , new instruments , e.t.c. . At the end maybe you end up with something that sounds good and then you can save it through the DISK OP. (4) menu . I will be glad to answer through e-mail (nalevrid@egnatia.ee.auth.gr) to every question you have regarding the editing or if the above does not cover your basic needs . Also I propose to all new trackers out there to take a look at The Tracker's Handbook . It is an extremely valuable tool if you want to know everything (OK almost everything) about tracking . The latest version of the Handbook is always available at the trackers page .

Good Luck :-)

Useful Keys
(can be found in the program's documantation)

1.Moving In A Pattern

PageUp, PageDown 
      Move 16 lines up or down
      Move at the beginning of the pattern
      Move at the end of the pattern
      Move to the next track
      Move to the previous track


      Deletes the note or volume at cursor
      Deletes note , volume and effect at cursor
      Deletes volume and effect at cursor
      Deletes effect at cursor
      Inserts note at cursor 
      Inserts line at cursor 
      Deletes previous note 
      Deletes previous line 
Alt+Cursor Keys or 
Using the mouse 
      Mark block 
      Cut track
      Copy track
      Paste track
      Cut pattern
      Copy pattern
      Paste pattern
      Cut block
      Copy block
      Paste block


Right Ctrl 
      Play song
Right Alt 
      Play pattern
Right Shift 
      Record pattern
      Full screen edit on/off
      Select octave
      Enter Keyoff-"note"
Shift+Left Cursor 
      Increase song position
Shift+Right Cursor 
      Decrease song position
Ctrl+Left Cursor 
      Increase pattern number
Ctrl+Right Cursor 
      Decrease pattern number

There are more key shortcuts but these should be enough .

Maintained By DrAvalanche