Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

It’s Alive

Posted by Trixter on March 25, 2008

I’ve finished what I consider to be a workable alpha of MONOTONE and am distributing it to a few testers. I hope they forgive me :-)

It is functional enough to compose tunes on, but the real work will be done at Block Party next week, hopefully in the demo room if we have enough space there. I’m bringing a PCjr and am hoping to add support to what will be the world’s first PCjr tracker. If you’re attending, please stop by and feel free to mock me :-) or just talk about hacking, programming, the demoscene, whatever. But no heckling me during my talk Saturday afternoon!

Video for the curious and bored:

15 Responses to “It’s Alive”

  1. Matt Hite said


  2. Cool work, man, and I’m really glad I’m not the only one using XMPlay :-)

  3. sagacity said

    So how does it feel to be insane? :)

  4. spoulson said

    You finally pulled it off! You win teh internets!

  5. ramdomguest said


    I guess programming for the speaker is quite hard (I usually stick to BASICA’s PLAY statement).

    I read the paragraph of: http://www.oldskool.org/sound/pc/#digitized , and I wonder if you are going to make the MONOTONE output to that kind of 6-bit music quality in the future.

    I did also notice that the labbel on the PC says it’s an XT… or is it just an 5150 in an XT chassis?

    And one last question:
    Will there be support for MDA (text-only, 80 chr/line)?

  6. Trixter said

    Programming for the speaker is easy; making it sound decent is what is hard :-)

    MONOTONE will eventually support emulation of multiple PITs via software to do 2, 3, and 4 simultaneous square waves. I have routines already working for 2, 3, and 4 voices although the 4 voices one uses memory and it’s too slow on an 8088 to hit the higher frequencies.

    I use 5150 and 5160 interchangeably — I program on a 5160 but all my code works on a stock 5150.

    I will support MDA after Block Party 2008.

  7. randomguest said

    Superb. I’ll look forward to the release.

  8. Anonymous said

    Wow! Such a great piece of work. I’m pleased with that growing good ol’ pc scene. Because i grew with pc’s, and i never had a bigger experience with amiga or commodores. So i really appreciate things like this.

  9. Just saw this on hackaday. Fantastic work! I have a large soft spot for anything of the 4MHz era and never imagined that something like this would be done nowadays!

  10. Sprite_tm said

    Looks like a nice tracker :) Any chance you could send me the program and the file format it uses? I’d like to port the player routines to an AVR (which is a type of embedded microcontroller), so everyone can use Monotone to compose a tune and then include that and my player routines in anything that requires some bleeps to come out of it. The nice thing of such a port is that the player routine can be really small, which is good if you’ve got only 2K or so of program space.

  11. Stillannonymusguest said

    To Sprite_tm

    The code wil problably be released on the internett with the program (sometime after next weekend).

  12. Trixter said

    Sprite_tm: I would be honored — that was specifically one goal of MONOTONE, so that any simple device could have a music editor for it. I will add support for at least one other device (a true multi-channel) and then release all of the code. The replay routine should definitely be able to fit into 600 bytes, although an assembler rewrite (which will happen anyway with embedded stuff) should be able to take care of it.

    The code is highly commented so hopefully it will be useful.

  13. gd said

    Well done!

  14. Trixter said

    Thanks! :-) Your music in your demo was also quite good; it’s a shame it didn’t place. I look forward to the vote totals to figure out what went on.

  15. […] us, but we’re definitely excited, especially for the demoscene madness at Blockparty (like Trixter’s MONOTONE PC speaker […]

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