It’s 2013. There are enough free and cheap DAWs / sequencers, to say nothing of VSTis, to achieve just about any sonic aim / complete just about any job you could imagine on the (extremely) cheap. The horizontal-sequencing genre represents a mature (now over 20 years old itself), quite flexible and well-established paradigm that quite easily understood by most musicians right out of the box. So why is a tracker or tracker-esque application– with its typically standalone nature and somewhat heavier learning curve– still of potential interest to a modern musician?
That’s something I hope to successfully address in this post, because I’m explicitly aiming this series at potential tracker newbies (like myself!), and I base all this effort on the belief that there are uses for both types of tools in the contemporary musical toolbox for lots of folks, well beyond the traditional audience for tracker apps.
There definitely aren’t many tracker evangelists out there being heard (or even making any effort to be heard) by the DAW-addicted masses; the tracking faithful are working in their own niches and are not particularly interested in the horizontally-oriented world outside. But I hope to make the case that trackers are in fact potentially useful tools regardless of the style of music you’re making, and with this post, I hope to make said case successfully in the eyes of other said newbies before I start taking on individual app reviews.
Ultimately, a tracker is perhaps best viewed as “just another tool,” and one that I find does some things better than the more widely-accepted tools in most contemporary DAWs. I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for a musician to limit themselves to working only inside a tracker, but having some basic skills in one tracker or another opens some very cool new possibilities that are harder to get to with the DAW alone. For me, those possibilities are worth the initial learning curve, and I suspect that other musicians might find the same if they’d give these apps a chance.
So, more specifically: what does a tracker potentially offer that a GUI-based DAW does not?
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