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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Voyetra Sequencer Plus Visited Again

There are still folks out there who are trying to work with Voyetra Sequencer Plus Gold software. This is for those who still use SP Gold for whatever reason. It's especially for those who have old .sng files and want to work with them.

I use SP Gold for working with the few original native SP Gold files I have been able to locate on old data tapes/CD's.

I've lost (hopefully misplaced) the instrument bank files I created to use with SP Gold. I created them to be able to use melodic mode on the OPL2 FM synth chip found on early sound cards.

The reason for using melodic mode is it gave me freedom to use any combination of nine melodic and/or percussive notes. Percussive mode allowed three percussive notes and six melodic ones.

The down side to using melodic mode was that I had to bastardize some melodic instruments to make them sound percussive. I did that by playing melodic "instruments" well above or below their normal range. This is the reason that many of my old game songs have strange sounding tuned drums when played back on wavetable sound cards and in some emulators. Wavetable sound cards used instrument samples, and the instruments would sound melodic even above or below their intended ranges. With the OPL 2, if you played "instruments" out of their range on it, you'd get some of the craziest sounds, including many percussive sounds.

You can still get SP Gold on the Turtle Beach site. That site has a wealth of info, drivers, whatever for SP Gold. SP Gold and drivers are here: seq_gold.zip

I don't think you need the drivers separately unless you're still running an older operating system/computer with a sound card. The basic drivers came with the SP Gold zip. That includes a MIDI simulator for sound cards and a General MIDI slave driver for FM Sound Cards (including the virtual one in DOSBox).

There's the manual and other great information available, too.

I use DOSBox to run SP Gold. Since I don't have the instrument bank files, I have not used it to actually play any of the songs. If you've used it with DOSBox and actually had it play in DOSBox, please comment with any suggestions you may have about getting it to work. DOSBox download is here.

DOSBox is great for running old games on "modern" operating systems. It also allows you to record the music from the games, raw MIDI commands and OPL commands. I cannot say enough good things about it's OPL2 soundcard emulation. It "understands" my bastardization of the melodic instruments!

Here's how I got DOSBox to run SPGold by default. This is for the latest version -- 0.74 running on a Windows 7 computer.
  1. This assumes you have DOSBox installed in the default configuration.
  2. It also assumes you have SP Gold installed at c:\VOYETRA.
  3. Win Start button > All Programs > DOSBox-0.74 > Options > DOSBox 0.74 Options.
  4. This should open dosbox-0.74.conf in Notepad (or your default text editor).
  5. Scroll all the way to the bottom of this file. You'll see [autoexec]. If you already have something entered here, just comment what you added before, using # as on all the other commented lines. Add the following, starting on a new line:
  6. mount c "c:\VOYETRA"
  7. File > Save
  8. Close Notepad.
  9. Go to c:\VOYETRA.
  10. Right click SEQ.BAT and select Edit. If it doesn't open in a text editor, select one to open it (Notepad).
  11. Following the "safe, not sorry" rule, File > Save As ... > SEQoriginal.BAT.
  12. Now File > Save As ... > SEQ.BAT so you'll be working on your edited file.
  13. Copy and paste the following in the place of what's presently in SEQ.BAT:
  14. echo off
    call driver
    SpG %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9
    call driver /rem
  15. File > Save
  16. In the c:\VOYETRA window, right click DRIVER.BAT.
  17. Select Edit.
  18. "Safe, not sorry:" File > Save As ... > DRIVERoriginal.BAT.
  19. File > Save As ... > DRIVER.BAT
  20. Copy and paste the following in place of what's in the file:
  21. echo off
    if "%1" == "/rem" goto REMOVE
    if "%1" == "/REM" goto REMOVE
    VAPINUL.COM %1 %2 %3
    SAPIFM1.COM /port:1 %1 %2 %3
    goto OUT
    SAPIFM1.COM /port:1 /rem
    VAPINUL.COM /rem
Now, when you start DOSBox, you'll have SP Gold start "automatically."

You should note that you can still use DOSBox for games and such by quitting SP Gold (q q from the track view screen) and mounting your games directory to a new drive letter.

I hope this info helps someone.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DistroKid.com Part 8

I was just on distrokid.com and saw that there is a Twitter account -- @distrokid.

He's tweeted album sales figures for Mar 13-Jun 13 -- about 1.4k. There's a graphic at https://twitter.com/DistroKid/status/355812542297280512/photo/1 -- you may have to sign into Twitter to see the link?

The last tweet (14 hours before this posting) was informative:

"We accept only credit cards. We pay out royalties using PayPal. 1-year term starts from the day you sign up."

I haven't heard anything new other than this. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

DistroKid.com Part 7

Keeping you up-to-date:

"music from Major Stryker" album submitted to Spotify by DistroKid.com at 3:02 PM on Fri, Jul 12.

The album became live at 3:42 PM today (Sun, July 14).

You can listen to the whole album here: https://play.spotify.com/album/5ywL7dTpec7SIw5TR3gPqf

I have heard nothing further about Google Play and Amazon.

Hey Google and Amazon, wonder why iTunes is on top? You'd better up your game!

Who'd ever thunk that an album could be submitted to iTunes and be on sale in two and a half hours?

Friday, July 12, 2013

DistroKid.com Part 6

The "music from Major Stryker" Album went live on iTunes in less than three hours. You can preview it here.

As for going directly with iTunes, I could have done that, but it would have been at the cost of time and expense of setting everything up -- UPC code, ISRC and other requirements.

I am very happy to see a one man operation like DistroKid.com go toe to toe with the corporation aggregators.  It goes to prove the power one person has now with the connectivity of the internet.

Has anyone else tried DistroKid.com? I'd love to hear if you have -- and what your experience has been.

DistroKid.com Part 5

"In Hiding" is live on Spotify. It took almost exactly two days. Impressive enough.

I have not heard back from DistroKid.com, but I can only imagine how much mail he's getting.

Here's the Spotify link, if you want to check it out.

I uploaded 21 songs for the album "music from Major Stryker." We'll see if the timing is as good on an album as it is a single.

By the way, there seems to be a limit of 21 songs for albums submitted by DistroKid.com

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

DistroKid.com Part 4

I emailed Philip Kaplan, who is the founder and one employee of DistroKid.com. I asked how to go about uploading the other songs of "music from Duke Nukem 3D" so my trial uploaded song would be included in the album. I'll let you know what/when I hear back. I imagine Mr. Kaplan is very busy.

In the meantime, I am going to upload my updated recordings of the music from Major Stryker. For years I have been putting this sort of thing off as it's like living in the past -- and it takes me away from creating new things. But, I actually enjoyed reworking the Stryker songs. Almost as much as I enjoyed working on them twenty years ago.

The original songs could have no more than 9 note polyphony, which called for lots of editing and searching for overlapping notes. Before updating any of the songs, I decided to try to maintain the feel of the song, meaning I wouldn't add new notes, instrument parts, melodies/harmonies and such. But, I did add "verses" on some, and endings.

I'll let you know how this goes.

Monday, July 8, 2013

DistroKid.com Part 3

DistroKid didn't fib when it came to the iTunes claim. "In Hiding" became active on iTunes around 5:30 Eastern -- it was submitted around 3:15 Eastern.

This is impressive!

Now to find out if I can add this single to the "music from Duke Nukem 3D" album -- if that's possible I'll be even more impressed.

The final and most important test for most of us is how is the accounting handled -- how often, what method, etc.

I'll post more as I discover things.

DistroKid.com Part 2

Sorry for taking so long to continue this experience. I had to make up some album artwork. I decided for generic, using a photo of a Les Paul Recording model that I have written a good bit of game music on.

Anyway, I uploaded the album art and a wav file of "In Hiding," a song from Duke Nukem 3D (Episode 3, Level 1: Raw Meat). It wasn't long before I received two "Good News" automated emails from DistroKid advising that the artwork (format, size, etc.) and the audio (format, bitrate, etc) "is good." Both emails included a link to more details about further processing of the files. That page stands static, reflecting that both artwork and song are "processing."

It seems that this is going to take a while.

I decided to refresh the page after waiting 10 minutes or so, and it reflected that the artwork was "Good." For the album, it listed a UPC, with an IRSC for the song. Pretty cool!

I also received another email. There's a problem with the way the system handled the one song. The Album title, which I listed as "Music from Duke Nukem 3D" is listed as "In Hiding," the song name. Will I be able to put this song with the others when I upload them? We'll see.

The good news is that the "album" has already been submitted to iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Amazon.

There's an interesting paragraph about how long the stores take to make an album live:

  • iTunes: About 1 day, sometimes within hours. A small percentage of albums go through manual review at Apple, which takes an additional 16 business days.
  • Spotify: 1-3 days.
  • Google Play: About 3 days.
  • Amazon: 4-6 weeks (still beta testing)
I'll check these stores to see what actually happens. And I'll make a new post regarding further developments.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


DistroKid.com allows unlimited uploading of your songs/compositions, and they will put them on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Spotify -- for an annual fee of $19.99. And you get 100% of your royalties. Of course they are paid through DistroKid.

I'm checking it out and will put my thoughts here as soon as I see how it all works.

DistroKid allows you to upload one free song to try it out.

If you get five referrals, you'll get a free unlimited upgrade. I'm trying that out with the links to their site to see if that works, too.

You don't have to pay or give credit card information when you register. Just your email address and desired password.

You can read about it via a couple of links on the DistroKid.com site.

The lack of particulars on the site makes me a bit suspicious, but we'll keep an open mind to see what gives.
Here's what I'm seeing as I look through the site:
  1. After registering, it goes to the "Upgrade for free" page that gives your referral URL and explains the 5 people register credits you with unlimited uploads. It doesn't say if that's forever or just for the first year.
  2. Links at the top of this page are + Upload, Upgrade, Albums, Bank and a symbol that signs you out of the site (learned that by clicking too quickly).
  3. I use long passwords. Don't know if that was a problem, but the site didn't recognize my password -- and I pasted it into the password fields when I registered. So I clicked "Forgot My Password" and it emailed me a link to reset the password. I copied and pasted the same password. We'll see if I get into the site again after signing out. But first, to continue while I am logged in now.
  4. There's also a link on the "Upgrade for free" page that says "Click here to upload music."
  5. It's linked to the same page as the + Upload link at the top of the page.
  6. Clicking on either of those links take you to the "Upload an album" page.
  7.  On that page, "Stores" has already checked boxes for iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Amazon.
  8. Album types are One song (a single) and Multiple songs (an album).
  9. Artist/band name.
  10. Album cover "Choose File" button. Specs are jpg extension, perfect square, at least 1000x1000, optimal is 2500x2500.
  11. Language dropdown.
  12. Primary genre. Secondary genre
  13. For the one free upload, there's a Track 1 section with Song title, Explicit lyrics No/Yes, and a "Choose File" button. File specs are WAV/FLAC/MP3/CDDA -- optimal is WAV.
  14. And finally, a "Just making sure..." section with check boxes for "There are no typos or errors in my band name, song titles, or other text," "I've selected the correct files for my song(s) and artwork," and "My music is original, I own the copyright and have the legal right to sell it in stores worldwide.
  15. The "Upgrade" link takes you to the same page where you clicked on "Free" to try the site out.
  16. The "Albums" link takes free registrants back to the "Upgrade for free" page.
  17. The "Bank" link takes you to "Your earnings" with lines for the four services selling your songs.
There are a lot of unanswered questions from what I've been able to see on the site thus far. I'll upload a song and see if that gets me more answers.