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Trackers

Trackers were a popular way of composing music on a computer before traditional DAWs gained popularity. They were often used for music in video games and by the demoscene and in the jungle/drum and bass scene. Their distinctive quality is a top down in time workflow (rather than the traditional left and right that is popular today) and heavy emphasis on samples.

software

There are not many modern trackers around, Renoise is the most popular modern tracker and has most of the features of any other DAW making it possible to create incredibly polished sounding tracks. There is also SunVox which is a hybrid of a tracker and modular synth environment.

There are also a few remakes of old software and open source options.

hardware

In recent years an interest in a hardware form of the tracker workflow has emerged with projects like the game boy lsdj. lpgt is inspired by lsdj but is available on much more hardware as well as traditional PCs. In eurorack format there is the NerdSeq and in standalone hardware there is the Polyend Tracker and the Dirtywave M8.

the tic80 fantasy console also has a music editor with a tracker workflow and can be used to make chiptunes

example music

making music with trackers

tic 80

in order for your music to play you need the following code saved to your *.tic.

music_started=false
function TIC()
    if not music_started then
        music(0)
        music_started=true
    end
end

hardware specific tools

if you intend on making music for different systems like NES, SNES, SEGA Genesis, etc. then there are plenty of tools you can use:

getting into the tracker/chip scene

chiptune adjacent communities

weekly beats is run by the creator of the m8 tracker and is a year long challenge to create one track a week (only run on even years).