M8 Tracker

Music trackers and the Dirtywave M8

More than a groovebox

The M8 is a meticulously designed 8-track sequencer and synthesizer, offering a versatile platform for musical creation. Each track has the capacity to play a single note at a time, utilizing any one of up to 128 instruments available in a song. Every instrument is configurable and can function as a synthesizer, a sample, or as a controller for external equipment using MIDI.

Sequencing on a tracker

The M8 employs a sequencer known as a "music tracker," a feature commonly seen in classic composition software tracing back to the late 1980s. Contrary to typical DAWs and step sequencers, the M8 organizes musical notes and events from top to bottom, while the tracks are arranged from left to right. This might seem intricate at first glance, but it's truly an elegant system. This layout's primary advantage is that it allows instrument changes or commands to be more intrinsically linked to the note they are adjacent to, thereby enhancing the user's understanding and control over the composition.

The tracker workflow

In a traditional music tracker, a song is crafted by arranging patterns together, with each pattern consisting of tracks grouped together for a predefined number of steps. The M8, however, introduces a unique characteristic: each track has its own independent play position, and patterns are further divided into chains and phrases. In general, songs are composed of a list of chains per track, with each chain containing a list of phrases. This structure eliminates the need for repetitive copying and pasting, while also facilitating the easy duplication, cloning, and transposing of sections of a melody or progression. The M8's design truly represents an evolution in music tracker technology, aiming to streamline the process of music creation while retaining depth and flexibility.