One of my recent discoveries was the AHX Sound System by Dexter and Pink of Abyss, which is a synthetic sound editor and player. AHX has many of the features found in C64 music editors, but the look and feel is based very much on ProTracker.

A list of all my AHX tunes

FilenamedescriptionOriginal composer
AHX.Alex Maxwell"Axel F" coverHarold Faltermeyer
AHX.All glued up!synth popGlueMaster
AHX.ChoochooSound effectKyzer/CSG
AHX.Clutching at LifeMelodic/AtmosphericUnknown
AHX.Fantasy Zone 6melodic game musicNoah Toku
AHX.Finger puppetmedieval tuneKyzer/CSG
AHX.Go Eastoriental disco tuneKyzer/CSG
AHX.Go East (Slow-jam)oriental tuneKyzer/CSG
AHX.Good old Alf"Alf" TV themeTom Kramer & Alf Clausen
AHX.Leander gameovergame jingleTim Wright
AHX.Living on Videochip/pop coverTrans X
AHX.Metal Cityrock jingleKyzer/CSG
AHX.Sandbankheavy C64esque tuneKyzer/CSG
AHX.The last strawjazzKyzer/CSG
AHX.The North East Weatherradio jingleUnknown
AHXtended.Good old Alf"Alf" TV themeTom Kramer & Alf Clausen

History of the tunes

The early days - All Glued Up! and Living on Video

The demo songs included with AHX, version 1.00 at that time, excited me quite a lot, so the the first thing I did with it was to convert an existing ProTracker module to see if I could work AHX and to hear how the result would sound. The module I chose was an old favourite from a Mahoney and Kaktus music disk, from the Gluemaster - the AHX version became known as All Glued Up!. At the time, AHX did not have a ProTracker import feature, so the conversion was done by hand, flicking back and forth between PT and AHX. The result was quite good, but not excellent. The samples didn't sound like the original, and I found it difficult to save on patterns. The next module I chose to convert fitted much better into AHX, it was Living On Video. The module cut much better, I was able to create much closer instruments, and it generally sounded excellent (although in retrospect, having now actually heard the original song, the bass line would be better an octave lower...)

First original composition - Sandbank

I was trying to create the drum patterns of "Hit that perfect beat" (remember Bronski Beat?), but gave up. Noting that the beats were very 'C64ish', I decided to add some C64-like arpeggio chords and a C64-like bassline. Add in a few white noise sweeps a-la 'Oxygene', the sound of a helicopter, and a twee lead, and you have a title tune for a C64 game about marines in the jungle. Feel that pounding beat!

First experiment with filters - The last straw

Filters only came to AHX in version 2.0, so like others I wanted to experiment with this new feature. And what do we experiment in? Jazz! It was simple enough to make the 'tschhh' of the hi-hat, and the main instrument, 'Reedy', was just a rasping bass sample through a hi-pass filter. The bass was also very simple, in fact I probably stole it from one of the demo songs.

Competition entry - Axel Schmaxel / Alex Maxwell

I entered the 3rd AHX IRC competition, where the module subject would be announced on IRC. I had to borrow an someone's dialup connection and their old 2400 modem (their 38400 internal PC modem wouldn't fit :) to go on, but it was ... interesting. The task was to create a module in the style of famous Axel F tune. There were a few really good mods, like Axel F.unk and Axel^D, but my module as a bit crap compared to those. It was certainly better than the entry by Grace, but because I'm a thickie I didn't realise 'You can vote for yourself' means 'give yourself first place vote, because everybody else will do the same'. If I had, I would have polled 6 points making me joint 12th, but I didn't. Grace got no points from anybody else, but still had 5 points from himself. I got 1 point and last place. Bah humbug. But, something good came of it. I rejigged Axel Schmaxel into Alex Maxwell, which had much better (filtered) instruments, an improved melody and extra drum patterns, but kept the same song structure as before (because it was good). I was inspired to do this, because Prodigy/Oops! did a much better remix of his own submission. I hope you find my remix just as good (the original Axel Schmaxel isn't included in the archive due to sour grapes).

TV cover - Good Old Alf

I must admit, I rather liked the cover of the theme to "Alf" in the Abyss demo "little floove", so I made my own version. The main theme was obviously from the TV, with a few little touches added, and the chords were taken from Pink's little floove module, but the drum beat was created by me, with the 'wet fart' (echoing snare) sample, and a very articulate bass line with my now ubiquitous filter bass sound. I was so pleased with the individual patterns, I spread them out to create a 'remix' AHXextended.Good Old Alf, so you can hear their individual splendor.

Chip Techno a go go - Blarp-Tekno

I demonstrated to my friend Owlz what filters did in AHX, and as I did, I thought to myself 'this sounds like Living on Video'. So I added a very long build up (positions 0-8), and some cool filter-effects along with the main bass part. One of the highlights is the 'ImpudentBass_auto' sample. The original Living on Video bass sample was called ImpudentBass, and of course the main bass line just flicks between one octave and another, for F F C C# D# D# D# D#. The filtered version automagically flicks between octaves, and a slow progression of increasing and decreasing filtering takes place, making a very interesting sound. Of course, we can use the transpose byte of the position list to alter the sound to include the main F and D# parts (as you hear in the intro). Some echoing chimes and a 80s style 'bleep' instrument complete the module.

Eastern promise - Go East

The idea with this was to make a pop song with the far-east sound. Well, it does use the pentatonic scale, and has the most famous of eastern jingles, but the progressions are definitely western. The module is fast paced, with quick pitch bends between transitions. There's also a drum extravagansa after the 'chorus', in the style of Chris Hülsbeck. I asked the opinion of Mikeal Lund, who said he liked it, but it was a bit too far west. So, I created a much slower, more 'traditional' version. If you compared the Almighty remix of Savage Garden's 'To the Moon and Back', with the original album version, that would be a similar comparison to Go East versus Go East (slow jam).