80’s-Style Sequencing With A Commodore Amiga Computer

Pea Hicks has shared a set of videos that demonstrate what music sequencing on a Commodore Amiga computer (The Best Damn Computer In The World) looked like in the 80’s.

The first video, above, demonstrates Dynamic Drums (later called Dynamic Studio).

“I noticed that hardly anyone else used this thing or remembers it,” notes Hicks, “so I thought I’d make a little video of it playing its factory demo songs. I always liked the lo-fi punchiness of the built-in drum samples, and I used them on a lot of tracks back in the day, usually synced to my Ensoniq ESQ-1.”

The next two videos demos Amiga Deluxe Music Construction Set.

“In 1987, Bloom County had a contest where you could submit your own original song for Billy & The Boingers, the band in the comic strip,” explains Hicks. “This is what I came up with on my Amiga. A couple of the sounds had gone missing, so I had to replace them with other sounds, but, well, I don’t think that matters very much. Needless to say, I didn’t win the contest.”

“This is an original fugue in D minor more or less in the style of JS Bach that I wrote on my Amiga when I was a teenager, around 1987. I wrote this before I’d had any formal music theory training, so I’m sure the counterpoint and voice leading is all wrong wrong wrong, but oh well, it sounded authentic enough to me back then.”

Here’s a version of Gary Numan‘s Cars, sequenced in Aegis Sonix:

The last video clip captures one of Hick’s original tracks. “Here’s an old song I rescued off a floppy from 1987 or so. An original piece of music I made for Activision’s The Music Studio for the Amiga, back when I was in high school. It’s being played on WinUAE here, but the sound is pretty authentic!”

14 thoughts on “80’s-Style Sequencing With A Commodore Amiga Computer

  1. Had both an Amiga 2000 and an Amiga 500. The 2000 was running a Toaster setup for video work but the 500 had DMCS on it and some Mod Trackers. Lots of fun.

  2. So many hours I spent/wasted in Sonix and trying to make a song in Dynamic Drums.
    It was a lonely time.
    No internet or friends to share what I made.

    I remember when I went to sell the Amiga and I showed the guy a beat in Dynamic Drums. His jaw hit the floor and handed over the money without saying a word.
    This was back in 1988.

  3. Man, early graphical user interface design was bad. Seemed revolutionary at the time, but looking back they’re all terrible.

  4. Tried Aegis Sonix and it sucked. The proper way to make music on the Miggy was to use ProTracker and Sampling, and to ignore MIDI completely. Every scene musician used a tracker, and the songs (“mods”) they did were awesome! To use outboard gear you used Atari ST. Then I wrote MidiTracker for the Amiga in 1990, but later in the ’90s I realized Logic was a great way to work with MIDI so I went Mac.

    1. Another Music X user here. By coincidence I was having a tidy up at the weekend and found my Music X Disk and a box full tunes on floppy disks. I must hook up the entire system again soon.

  5. I was always bored by the Amiga, just watching thousands of demos like: “What could have been done with the Amiga, if it would have been programmed properly”. I personally just switched on my Atari 520 ST, plugged in my very bad Kawai Preset-Keyboard with Minikeys and programmed “running up that hill” in stereo. The “true” Commodore is and will always be the C64, which is in its own class till today! 😉

  6. I rocked Dr. T’s Keyboard Controlled Sequencer on the Commodore 64. Awesome. It was like an early, pre-graphics version of Ableton Live’s Session View.

  7. Did some tunes for “our” group on the Soundtracker/Modtracker back then and got pretty good at it. But this stuff was so very limited. DMCS sucked badly, as did all the others. (as the videos here show, ha!)
    Went with Dr. T’s KCS to do MIDI Stuff with my first synth (D-10) and (finally!) a sampler (S-330, still have it). Always looked forward to the Steinberg Pro-24 being ported to the Amiga, since the KCS lacked stable timing. Until I saw Cubase on Atari at the shop! 😯
    HAD to have this, so I finally betrayed the Amiga Scene and got a Mega STE and Cubase+Midex – JOY and the most rock-solid system I ever had.
    But, well, the old Amiga Mods of course bring back memories… 🙂

  8. I worked at Dr. T’s music software – we had some great stuff back then – for the day… some of it is still around: Copyist / Quickscore by Crispin Sion / “M” by Laurie Spiegel – what is now Metro (was Beyond back then). A lot of it is still around in a newer form. The best was KCS….

    Some of my best days.. worked at 12 tone systems AKA Cakewalk too…. good times……

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *