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A. F. S. T. S

The Algorithmic Film Sound Track System

Track and note Screens


The Algorithmic Film Sound Track System
By Rudolf and Christian Banasik

Released as Freeware January 1rst,2001

Several months ago I was "surfing" the net, when I came across by chance upon Christian Banasik's Web Site.
On his site he has a page describing his software he created for Atari computers called A.F.S.T.S. I contacted him asking about the availability of this program. I finally recieved an answer, and on January 1rst, 2001, he sent me the program files releasing them as FREEWARE to the Atari-Midi Community. You might call it "2001 an Atarian Space Oddity". Oddity it is as it is a very unique Algorithmic Compostion package. It does not rely on recording midi as in sequencers but on user input of scales and parameters. In this way, it is similear to LUDWIG, another algo-comp application from Hybrid Arts (See Hybrid Arts Page) and also "M". You could look at it as a Giant 12 track "M" program with parameters to change Tones, Durations, Rests, and velocity (Volume) This is the same with most Algorithmic applications in that they allow you to change these 4 sets of parameters independenly of each other to create music.

Christian has given me permission to use some of the material from his A.F.S.T.S page as he has excellent material already covering the basics and overview of A.F.S.T.S
He also has an on-line manual, which I will be providing as a Download (in HTML Format) See download section below.
I would welcome any comments on the use of this unique software. It is programs like this that make it worth it to have an Atari in your studio.

A F S T S 1 - presentation/some details

AFSTS1 is an algorithmic composition program for ATARI ST computers which specially could be used for film or video productions or all other precise time-dependant projects combined with experimental music. This program is a real-time system working with random-models for the most important MIDI-controlled musical parameters. All developments of the micro-form will be calculated in real-time during a concert or production. Because of the chance-manipulations it is possible to get numerous different versions of one piece and to keep the intended global characteristic or the time-cues of the macro-form which could be important for some fixed points in the multimedial works. The software itself doesn´t need a recording or a musical pattern to compose and varied the existing form - it creates its own algorithmic structure based upon the users numeric input.

Track View

TRACKVIEW (shows the graphic and linear view of the complete piece) 12 TRACKS which are independant in all important musical parameters.All TRACKS calculate and play back the constructed musical algorithms in real time. Possible MIDI-Channels: 1-16, PAN (left-right panorama) from-7..to +7. Solo- and Chord adjustment of the own AFSTS 1-system (SV0 - LV 1-9, chords up to 9 voices).

DURATION Max. Play-Duration of the piece: approx. 99 minutes

TIME-IN This function allows to hear and calculate the music from any point of the piece.
MIDI THRU Channel 1-16

Track View


All TRACKS have 25 free definable time-cues (INSETS) (min.1/10-tel sec., max 99 Min, START:-END:) which can be changed by the functions ´move´, ´insert´, ´delete´ and ´copy´. The INSETS have automatically the right number in the TRACKVIEW.

Algorithmic Parameter screen


Every time-cue and TRACK consists of the following constant parameter: melody parameter (P 1/2, jump-melody / step-melody) melodic intervals (MS-values), -99 + 99, ca. 180 different melodic algorithms) Sound (SND, Prg-Change, 1-128) Volume (VOLUME, 0-127) melodic density , rest density (P 1-9) and - : variable algorithmic parameter: pitches (TONE-INDEX, 1-RND/FIX, 2- MIN/MAX) lengths (TONE-LENGTH, RND/FIX, ACCEL/RIT) rests (REST, RND/FIX/P) velocity (VELOCITY, RND/FIX, CRESC/DECRESC) with the functions ´replace´, ´copy´, ´insert´ and ´delete´ you can change all values. DIAGRAMM (info) the diagramm is a graphical view about the pitches, volumes and lengths for every of the 12 TRACKS 1. within a special time-cue (INSET- 1-25/ TRACK) 2. the whole TRACK with all time-cues (1-25) the graphic-view is visible after editing the parameter, before using the play-option

Time editor

PRINT print page with the TIME-EDITOR (all time-cues 1-25 , for all TRACKS 1-12) and the ALGORITHMIC-PAR. EDITOR (all parameter with time-values, START-END points) or TONECTRL view for the interval-values (MS - Values) with their melodic direction (Phase 1- Phase 2).

SAVE/LOAD AFSTS 1 has its own FST-format for files

TITLE-EDITOR (EDIT.SAVE/LOAD) to give a title or commentaries (max 15 lines) for every FST-file. It will be saved in an own TIT-format and can be loaded from all FST-files.

Software: AFSTS 1 System: ATARI 1040 STf/e Development/Production: Christian Banasik Written by Rudolf Banasik/Christian Banasik

Synth patch listing

Christian Banasik Background

Christian Banasik, bom 1963 in Siemianowice (Poland), lives in Germany since 1974. He studied composition with Gunther Becker and Dimitri Terzakis at the Robert-Schumann-Academy of Music in Dusseldorf. Postgraduate studies with Hans Zender (composition) and Hans-Dieter Resch (conducting) at the College of Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt/Main. His instrumental and electronic music has been performed and broadcasted in numerous european countries (BBC London, SFB Berlin, WDR K61n, HR Frankfurt, VPRO Radio Holland, Polskie Radio, and Swedish National Radio) as well as in Nortli-and South america, Asia and Australia. He was invited to international festivals as "Gaudeamus Music Week" in Amsterdam, "Berliner Biennale", "Klangforum Osnabriick", "Filmmusic Festival in Bonn", "Traiettorie Sonore" in Como, "Live Wires" in Sydney, "Computennusic-Festival in Seoul" , "Primavera en La Habana" in Kuba and the "Moscow Forum Festival". From 1994-1997 he was chairman of the music department in the guild of artist "Kunstlergilde NRW". Banasik was the artistic director and organizer of multimedial events with new music, literature and fine arts as well as concerts with electroacoustic music. He developed an algorithmic composition software (AFSTS) for the Atari ST computers between 1991-1993. Beside live-electronics and computer-music Banasik has produced works for tape, radio-plays and film-soundtracks. He has received national and international music-awards and scholarships.

Short Tutorial:

Tim Conrardy

This Tutorial came about as a request from a member of the Atari-Midi Egrp.

1. Double click on the AFSTS_1.prg. The front Info dialog appears then goes to a file selector for you to choose an FST file. Hitting cancel will bring you to a dialog to Quit, file select. or use Default Values. For the sake of this tutorial, choose DEFAULT.

2.Another dialog appears that says UNTITLED. Later on , you will be able to create your own notes and have it come up when ever you load your files. For now hit any key and the main TRACK screen appears.

3.Right now you have an EMPTY screen with no tracks written.Click on the TONEMAP and a dialog appears with a keyboard graphic.The TONEMAP is what pitches will be used in generating the music.

You have several choices. RESET will mask out whole scales.12-TONE will default to a Chromatic scale.TONE-CTRL allows you to see the map of the scales in a seperate dialog.OWN DEFN allows you to create a scale which is what we will do.

Click on OWN DEFN, then click the keyboard on one of the "white" keys. It should grey out.Click on ALL the white keys. What you are doing is setting up a mask so the program will only pick notes from the "black" keys: that is a pentatonic scale. (so our example will sound "pretty" )In other words: whatever you select will NOT be part of the scale.When completed, hit OK. Notice the dialog at the bottom (Number of active Tones ) went from 97 to 40.Now click on RETURN.You are back to the track view.

4. Click on TI-EDITOR, the Time Editor screen appears.Click on EDIT. The curser turns into a pointing hand. Click on the grid at location 1-Track 1 (the numbers)You will see the START and END numbers appear in the "editing box" at the bottom of the screen.Click in that box and change the end time by scrolling with the arrow keys and backspace to create: 01:00.0. This means our track will be one minute long.Then select ENTER with the mouse or just hit RETURN on the keyboard. It brings you back to the Edit Mode. Now RIGHT CLICK on the mouse. This will take you out of editmode

5. Click on TRACK 1 at the top of the screen. This will bring you to the heart of AFSTS: The Algorithmic Parameter Editor.

Go to the top Right and click into CHNL (Midi channel) and set it to 1. Possable entries are 1 thru 16

You also have PAN which allows you to place the sound in a stereo field.You can choose +7 to -7.

Starting on the far Left of the grid you have IN (Insert). You can have 25 inserts that can have their own Time definitions (that are set in the Time editor)We will be working on Insert 1.Now click into the P colomn for insert number 1.

P: Possable choices are 1, 2 or 3. This sets up an algorithm. See HTML manual for specs. For our example, enter 2. Then use the TAB key to go to the next line:

MS: Melodic Structure.Chooses an algorithm for melodic structure. Possable numbers -99 to +99. .For our example, enter 20. Use the left arrow key or backspace to scroll to the left, then enter the number. Clicking on the MS box itself will bring up a screen showing the algorithm. Just hit RETURN to exit out of the dialog. Tab over to:

SND: Sound or Patch. Initiates a patch change. If using a general midi module, back space twice, then enter 13 for a mirimba sound.

Next you come to 4 areas that will allow you to control what AFSTS outputs. These areas are TONE INDEX, TONE-LENGTH, REST, and VELOCITY.


RND: Random or varaiable number of tones
FIX: A fixed number of tones

For our example enter 10 for both of these values

MIN: Minimin number of tones
MAX: maximin number of tones

These set the highest and lowest notes You can only use as many tones there are in the scale.In the TONE INDEX box it tells you how many tones you can use. For our example it says 40. Now enter 10 for MIN and 35 for MAX. (However..if you were programming a bass part you could put MIN 5 and MAX at 10...understand the concept?)


RND: Variable length (0-999)

FIX: allows to set a FIXED length for the note. Shorter numbers create faster notes. For our example put in 40. Leave the RND blank.

ACCEL: + values plays the tones faster. - values playes the tones slower. For our example enter +10


RND: Random Rests are created. Enter 10 for the example .

FIX: Allows a fixed number of rests. Enter 2 for the example.

P: allows you to select an algorithm. 1,2 or 3. Enter 2 for the example.


RND: Random values for velocity (Volume)Enter 5 .

FIX: a fixed velocity vlaue (0-127) Enter 120.

CRES: Cresendo. + values increase volume, - values decrease volume slowly. For the example leave this blank.

VOL: overall volume limits (0-127) leave this blank.

Click on DIAGRAM. It will show you a graphical view of what we just did.Click on any key to return to the Algorithmic Parameter Editor. NOW click on TRACKVIEW.

You now see a track on Track one represented.On the track Column, select the Track 1 button so it is highlighted. This UNMUTES it. (took a while for me to figure this out..."why ain't the Thing Playing???!!" ) Click on INIT PLAY. It turns into PLAY. Hit ENTER on the ten key pad. The piece plays. You will hear a nice acending and decending pentatonic scale. Hit 0 on the Ten key pad to STOP IT, then ENTER to CONTINUE, and finally RETURN to STOP.

Now you can start all over again with another track. Select TI-EDITOR, and go into edit mode, select Track 2,select your stopping point, select TRACK 2 at the top of the screen and put in parameters in the Algorithmic Parameter Editor and keep on going. Try it for midi channel 10 and use percusion sounds.

To SAVE, simply click on SAVE and name your piece.

There are other functions within the program as well, such as the Midi Thru Off /On switch and the TIME IN switch which allows you to scroll thru and PLAY a piece anywhere in the TRACK screen.

Admititly, it takes a while to get into this system, but once you do , it opens facinating doors to new music never heard before.