[the best of the Amiga/PC 'opensource' .MOD scene in one place]
[LAST UPDATED: June 2007 - Thanks to the Modland folks, we've now added the might of Jugi/Complex -
to re-iterate, this site is properly Creative Commons licensed now, too.]
This page provides 'best-of' and full sets of creator-approved, Creative Commons licensed music for some of the best artists and groups from the .MOD music scene on the PC and particularly Commodore Amiga computers, from around 1988 to the present day. Its sister site, MODs In Memoriam, has non-CC licensed individual tunes in several categories (classic/chiptune/overlooked) picked out and available for download, but this site concentrates on getting complete .MOD-o-graphies for download from the best people in the genre, often impossible to find in one place online.
For those who don't know what they are, .MODs are music files which contain data about musical notes and melodies that need to be played back in a certain order. With the earlier .MODs, the computer was powerful enough to play back 4 'channels' of music simultaneously, so 4 different notes or samples could be mixed together. However, the composer could sample and use any instruments that he liked, which are also contained within the file. This is unlike MIDI files, which generally use external instruments on your synthesizer or computer. You can also use simple effects on the notes as they are played, such as volume, vibrato, pitchbend, and so on. When you play a .MOD file back on your computer, it's reading off the notes and playing them in real-time, and adding suitable effects as described in the .MOD. This makes them completely different from .MP3 files, which could be recordings of anything, including voice, live instruments, and so on, and is just a big sample being decoded and played back. .MODs hail from the era when it was important that music be small in kilobytes (so it could fit on floppy discs), and that it be cheap in terms of processor-time (no real-time decoding of .MP3s possible!) So - musical notes + instruments + basic real-time effects information = .MODs. And they can truly be a work of art.
Actually, the 'not being able to find .MODs' is not strictly true, since there are a few sites online now which have great collections of .MODs, specifically modland ftp (where many of the master .MOD sets for this site were authored from) and AMP (Amiga Music Preservation), as well as Total Kaos. But they haven't really singled out artists, or if they have, they haven't explained why they're important. So it's a little like the mp3.com effect - you have all the data in the world in front of you, but you can't find the amazing or revolutionary material through the mess of.. too much information.
This will _NOT_ be a canonical list of every .MOD musician who ever made the charts on the PC and Amiga. It will, however, be a subjective list of some of the best musicians who don't have their material collected in one place, and not just your normal 'hey, it's Jester/Skaven/Purple Motion' picks either. Even for those who don't know who Delorean/Complex or Mortimer Twang are, and for those not involved in the underground demo-scene at the time, this music is well worth downloading and checking out. Oh, and some pages, such as the one for Aleksi 'Heatbeat' Eeben, include newer MP3 material too, so there's a complete career retrospective, not just their .MOD classics.
You can listen to just about all of these tunes using the current version of Winamp. However, it's HIGHLY recommended that you also download Carsten 'Surfsmurf' Sorensen's Oldsk00l .MOD plugin to get correct playback and decent stereo mixing effects for the older .MODs. Some other exotic formats may also need Winamp plugins or similar, and if so, they'll be mentioned on the page.
None of these .MOD files were ever sold commercially, having originally been released and spread freely by their creators as part of the underground demo-scene. The generally agreed reading of this is that they may be freely distributed and re-distributed, but can't be sold for money. However, we've now gone one step further and specifically contacted all the original creators, and have Creative Commons licenses for all of the music we host here, with their explicit permission. So there's no longer any ambiguity about whether we're really allowed to spread this material, hurrah.