The linker shows the sequence of your tracks, for every channel, as well as the height of each of them.
Basically, one column represents a pattern, which holds the tracks you will be hearing.
A track is the basic building block of your music: it contains the notes and effects to hear. A track is designated by its number, from 0 to 4095 (&fff). So in the exemple above, the pattern 0 contains the tracks 0, 1 and 2, respectively played on the channel 1 (left), 2 (center) and 3 (right).
The tracks are sequenced here in the linker, but they are viewed and edited in the pattern viewer, at the bottom of the screen.
A track can be filled in any purpose you want: it can be a bass line, a melody, drums, or a mix of all of this (after all, we only have three channels!). It is also possible for a pattern to reference the same track as many times as you want. No need to copy/paste tracks that sound the same! This both saves memory and your time.
The height means how many lines there are in this pattern. The default value is 64 (&40), musically meaning 4 measures for a 4/4 music. A pattern height can be up to 128 lines. An important note is that if a pattern is shorter than the tracks it contains, only a subset of it will be heard.
At the bottom, are the speed and event tracks. They are called "special tracks" because their role differs a bit from the normal tracks. Arkos Tracker 1 and STarKos users know about them, except that they were mixed into one "special track". With Arkos Tracker 2, they have been split into two tracks, making their use even more simpler and powerful.
The speed track allows to change the speed of the song while it is played. The fastest is 1 (one frame will be played before moving to the next line, this is very fast), the slowest 255 (at 50hz, it means the next note will be played every 5 seconds. Slow!). The default speed is 6, which corresponds to a tempo of 120bpm for a player running at 50hz.
Some uses of the Speed tracks:
- The most basic use is to set a speed once and for all (but this is more handy to simply change the "initial speed" in the properties of your subsong!).
- Your music has parts with various speed for each. Create new Speed Tracks with your new speed on the first line (for example), and refer to them in the Linker.
- As a special effect, you may want to slow down or accelerate the tempo.
- You can create a "shuffle", or a "groove" by swapping between two speeds. For example, put values of 4, 6, 4, 6, 4, 6 and so on in your track : this sounds much more "groovy"! You can experiment various gaps between the values (3, 7, 3, 7) for various results. It's a bit boring to spread these values along all the lines of the Speed track, but once it is done, you can re-use the same track in all your patterns.
Event tracks have two uses:
- It helps the musician communicate with the coder/player by sending numbers to it. This is useful to help you synchronize your demo on the song progress, for example.
- A second use is to play samples such as digidrums. More on this later (TODO).
This indicates how the song loops when it has ended. The last pattern played is defined by end, and when its end is reached, the player goes back to the loop To pattern. In most cases, you will want the whole song to restart, the loop to is set to 0.
The end may be set to the very last pattern of your song, but it doesn't have to. For example, you can put unused or tests pattern at the very end, and put end before, in order to keep them safe. Don't worry about the memory wasted, all unused data will be optimized away when exporting the song.
You can either change the loopTo/end values either by directly typing the number, or via the yellow horizontal line. Hover your mouse over it, and you will see a small "S" and "E" icons appearing. Click on them to change the Start and End of the loop, respectively.
By clicking on this icon, the track numbers switch to transpositions: by default they are set to 0, but try modifying them: the track will go up and down according to the number you enter, in semi-tones.
This is very useful when you simply want to play the same track with a higher or lower pitch, instead of having to copy/paste the track and transpose its notes. If you're working on a music for a 4K demo, use this feature as much as possible because it will save a lot of memory.
This icon indicates whether the follow mode is activated or not. When on, the linker will scroll horizontally to show the pattern being played (and shown with a blue border), when it changes. This is useful to always keep track of what pattern is played.
This duplicates the selected patterns, using the exact same tracks. No "new" tracks are created. So modifying the duplicated tracks will also modify the old ones. This is most useful when wanting to repeat the exact same part of the song. This is also a great memory saver!
Create new empty pattern
This creates a new pattern with new tracks, that are empty. Use this to create new parts of the songs from scratch.
This creates a new pattern that looks exactly as the selected ones: the tracks are cloned. They have a different number and independent. Modifying the new tracks won't influence the older ones. This is useful when wanting to make your song evolves, but use the existing pattern as a basis.
This deletes the selected patterns. Don't worry about the tracks: they are still in memory and can be re-used at any time.
Create new track
Creates a new empty track where the cursor is, or finds any empty and unused track to avoid making too much "holes" in the sequence. However, don't worry about creating plenty of unused tracks: they will be optimized on export.
Ctrl + N does the same thing!
This creates a new track, using the data of the selected ones. This is useful when wanting to make a track evolve from the basis of an existing one.