Luckily, I kept the original MIDI files (and Sequencer Plus Gold .SNG files).
Unluckily, I cannot find the instrument banks I slaved over to create the earliest FM synth songs. Maybe I failed to save them. That would be the equivalent of saving a sequencer file today and twenty years later remembering that you didn't save the instrument plugins that create the actual instrument sounds. YIKES! Double YIKES if they're pure synthesized sounds that you designed yourself, tweaking forever to get them just right for your music.
These old song files are in directories based upon the name of the project producer or the project. I started with the A's, and the first was "Alan." That would be Alan Blum, and the project was "Major Stryker," a SHMUP or Shoot 'em Up -- just "shooter" back in the day.
The first of many lessons I learned when working on the first song was I saved the .MID files "back then" as Type 0 files. The reason: software that translated the MID file to a file containing a stream of Adlib card FM synth data required a "one track" MID file. Yes, all the data was on ONE MIDI track.
Luckily, most sequencers intelligently separate the one MIDI track into individual tracks for each MIDI channel.
How was I to know what instrument was where? I used Sequencer Plus Gold (thanks to DosBox) to make new Type 1 MIDI files, with data saved for each individual track, including the track names. Now I knew the instrument I was striving for on the FM synth card.
You may be thinking that all I had to do was look at the patch number and I could tell which instrument was on which track. The problem with that is I created my own instruments and put them in all sorts of different patch "slots."
This situation was much like today where you select an instrument VST and decide what channel it will respond to. Then you may tweak the instrument/effects settings. Luckily for all of us, most modern sequencers store all of that information in the song file. But, you'd better keep a copy of your plugins and the sequencer software you use -- in twenty years the standards may be completely different.
The first song (again in alphabetical order) is CRUISINA.SNG, last saved 7/10/1992. There is also CRUISING.SNG dated 10/13/1993.
The "A" at the end of CRUISINA, stood for AdLib. It was the sound card of the day (with Creative Labs strong on it's heels). The "G" at the end of CRUISING stood for General MIDI, a 1991 standard that was becoming main stream with computer cards in 1993.
In 1992, a PC file was still limited to eight alphanumeric characters, so a file name like "Cruising With Stryker.MID" wouldn't work. Thus the cryptic file names you may see for "old" files.
This song was one of the first to use my heavily "tweaked" FM instruments, especially the overdrive/distortion guitar, which went into harmonics at just the right time for the tempo of the music. Here's the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnPALu0E4YM
Here's a demo of the "real" (updated) version: https://soundcloud.com/bobbyprincemusic/cruising-with-stryker-demo
There's a certain feel to the original that the "real" one doesn't capture. Maybe it's because the music was written to the FM synthesized sounds?
Maybe it's the "warmth" of analog coming out of an early sound card?
When I get more done on this project, I'll put some more "real" versions up on SoundCloud, with a post here about it.
The best music to each of you. Remember that Richard Rodgers wrote a song a day. While I'd love to hear the ones he closeted away, he'd probably turn over in his grave to know anyone ever heard any of them.
What would be your chances of having a Song of the Year if you wrote a song a day for a year and published your best seven?