I've written a program for easily writing music for the Atari 2600.  Sort of.

It actually runs on the PC side and isn't "stand-alone" in that you have to also install MODPlug (if you want real-time preview), an emulator to test binaries and some additional asm libraries / compiler.  The install instructions will be very clear but they will need to be followed with everything in the same directory.  Once you've set this folder up, you can technically copy it to someone else and it will just work. (I just can't officially distrib everything in one folder!)

I'm still working on the tool at the moment.  For instance it doesn't have a "load" and "save" feature at the moment because I'm still confirming what is in memory!  It will be a single EXE file - no install required - around 40kb and run on Win 95, 98, XP,Vista and 7.  Takes about 2 seconds to load on a Pentium 90mhz w/ 16MB RAM.  Or 0.2 of a second to load on anything made after 2005.  No Mac support but runs on Virtualbox fine.

At the moment I'm adding support for triplet time.  This is the first thing I realized I wanted when I tried to make a tune run at an "in-between" tempo!  I'm looking at releasing it in late May "as-is" on the logic that if it works for me, it should work for others.  Every 3 months or so I might try to implement requested features.  For those who have a Harmony cart, it has a "direct to SD" feature which means after previewing you can press a single button which compiles the BIN and pops it on an SD card for preview on the real hardware within seconds.

This is a tool for compiling binaries that run on real systems with real carts.  It also supports 4kb EPROMs :-)

Plan for the long term:
- tune "memory optimizer" to allow longer songs (although you can do this yourself in the ASM window)
- support for putting graphics / logo on the screen (first instance will be 1-bit)
- bank switching support allowing up to 8 songs to be put on one cart with own artwork
- potentially add a live mode to hold patterns in a loop and move between sections with synthcart controller.
(all the long term stuff could be 2012ish.  Depends when I release an Atari music cart to when I make the software!)

While it might look a little complex, it's actually piss easy to use.  In fact, you don't have to touch a single setting if you don't want to - you can just put notes in, punch in an order and press "compile song".

Just letting you know it's coming soon!!

Last edited by cTrix (Apr 27, 2011 3:38 pm)

*Bricks are being shat.

looks really awesome, 2600 music carts are coming true heart    any RSS or DEVblog people can subscribe to?

Ah cool! I wasn't sure if you were ever going to release this. Glad it's going to see the light of day big_smile

yessshh! big_smile

awesome!

celsius wrote:

Ah cool! I wasn't sure if you were ever going to release this. Glad it's going to see the light of day big_smile

Yeah - talking of which my half modded Atari 2600 with the awesome composite out is still at your place!!  Must come around and finish it soon mate.  Really need something better than an RF out!!!

Chema64 wrote:

Looks really awesome, 2600 music carts are coming true     any RSS or DEVblog people can subscribe to?

Nup.  There is no real point.  My work on this is usually when I have time and I just do a 20 hour block in a row on it.  It's not something I have the time to continually work at.  That said, it's my priority for this month (along side mixing a friends release) and I plan on progressing it to a working version by mid May / start June.  So I'll just post stuff up on this thread as I go!

Chema64 wrote:

looks really awesome, 2600 music carts are coming true heart    any RSS or DEVblog people can subscribe to?

That part might come later!  Sure - you could do a single tune with multi tracks in a row at the moment - but in 4kb you don't have that much memory.  Although we are looking at throwing together a bank switch loader - the only problem being you'd have to restart the Atari for every track.  The revised playcode / bank switch thing will be coming later once a friend of mine (who is a massive macro asm head) figures out more of how the 2600 ticks.

Chema64 wrote:

looks really awesome, 2600 music carts are coming true heart

(I've deleted this rant about EPROM programming because it turns out you can actually buy flashcards now!  So this is all actually coming true, you are right!)

This is all a long way down the track but it would be great to eventually get a compilation of solid & high quality release of tunes on-a-cart.  It depends on how people fare with the above tool in the first place!

Last edited by cTrix (Apr 27, 2011 3:40 pm)

UPDATE 28th April

+ Design of the AXM file format to save projects
+ Added Save and Load command.  - I underestimated how long something so simple would take!!!
+ Added clear pattern and undo feature
+ Added Undo Load feature
+ Lots of testing
+ Still buggy as hell but it's usable (for short tunes)

Started testing with tons of unique dummy data and have discovered my calculation that you could get 64 patterns before crashing is actually more like 12 unique patterns!  (but with up to 127 measures in the sequencer)  I might write an optimizer at a later date which it really needs.

Anyone who uses this for more than a short tune will find themselves probably jumping into the asm code and optimizing things anyway.  I find I write the core loops in this, then twiddle with variations of sections which I copy and paste.   Because this app  is always spitting out ordered assembly code for the separate oscillators, you can easily copy a slab straight into code anyway.

Now it's time for me to actually write some music in this so there are some demos files!

cTrix wrote:

more like 12 unique patterns!  (but with up to 127 measures in the sequencer)

Well its more of a drum machine like tool anyways... or MINIMAL ATONAL TECHNO PARTY

I wonder how hard it would be to make a mutlicart loader to load a bin on the fly and in sync?

herr_prof wrote:
cTrix wrote:

more like 12 unique patterns!  (but with up to 127 measures in the sequencer)

Well its more of a drum machine like tool anyways... or MINIMAL ATONAL TECHNO PARTY

I wonder how hard it would be to make a mutlicart loader to load a bin on the fly and in sync?

You've just got to hit that joystick button at the right time!  Maybe use a delay line.  I can see my old Quadreverb rack coming out here ;-)

cTrix wrote:
Chema64 wrote:

looks really awesome, 2600 music carts are coming true heart

(I've deleted this rant about EPROM programming because it turns out you can actually buy flashcards now!  So this is all actually coming true, you are right!)

care to elaborate?  big_smile

Timbob wrote:
cTrix wrote:

(I've deleted this rant about EPROM programming because it turns out you can actually buy flashcards now!  So this is all actually coming true, you are right!)

care to elaborate?  big_smile

Atari Melody Board :-)
http://atariage.com/store/index.php?l=p … age_melody

Hey, here is the software in action in case anyone is interested :-)

You got the samples to work on an approximate modversion? This is the way I made GB music first, using Lemonplayer. It was hard tongue

This is badass. Release date? big_smile