Those crazy Amiga artists were ahead of their time. The lightweight real-time music engines and formats they began were uncommonly efficient, and allowed the exchange of elaborate electronic music using a minimum of resources – with some accompanying compositional and sound design ingenuity required, as well. As a result, getting a phone handset to reproduce their work today is a pretty manageable task, and some of the music available is concise and clever. Pop on some headphones, load up some tunes, and you may feel you’re starring in your very own Amiga point and click adventure the next time you hit the grocery market.

There are a number of trackers and mod players for mobile platforms from iPhone to Windows Mobile, but Android is now in on the game thanks to Xmp (Extended Module Player). Using Android’s JNI-based NDK interface for accessing native code from Java, the “experimental” queue up some files and play back on your SD card. My sense is that this hasn’t been widely tested, which is where you come in: got an Android phone? Ideally, got some obscure models of Android phone? Load this up and see if you’re getting the retro tracker music love. Let us know in comments how it goes.

Full downloads and code for Xmp, a command-line mod player for Mac, Windows, Linux and pretty much every OS every invented, along with the experimental Android port:
http://xmp.sourceforge.net/

Thanks to Dan Galpin, developer advocate at Google, for pointing this out to me.

Now, this brings me to my open question. Suffice to say, someone could build a pretty player interface for Xmp, with playlist support and the lot. But what about actually editing files on your Android device, as you can on iPhone, PSP, GamePark, PC, Mac, etc.? It’s possible that the Xmp code could be used as a template for porting the engine of something like LittleGPTracker. But looking through quickly, I wonder if Xmp itself might serve as a real-time engine? It’d also be interesting to design a tracker interface that took the UI patterns of platforms like Android to heart, rather than just reproducing interfaces designed for other platforms. If you’re interested in such a project or have some insight into what might be practical, let us know in comments.

  • http://www.last.fm/music/Filip+Hnizdo Filip

    A mobile tracker that could work alongside something like Renoise would be perfect for drawing up ideas away from my PC.

    Android App Synthulator's piano roll screen is ok but quite buggy at present and not the best to work through in a phone setting (lots of dragging and missed clicks). A tracker seems to make a lot more sense.

    How about an ABC notation system for musical ideas? That might fit the phone perfectly.

    I've had so much fun playing around with getting OSC messages from Fingerplay MIDI on my HTC Desire to Plogue Bidule recently so more android music apps in general would be great but sequencing is the main area I'd be interested in for those days when I'm on a train or waiting somewhere and have an idea.

  • http://the-palm-sound.blogspot.com/ PalmSounds

    Great to see more music apps coming to Android, I hope that this really is that start of many more.

  • http://soundcloud.com/rumpelfilter rumpelfilter

    The day android gets a tracker, I'm going to buy me one! this is for sure! Can't wait!

    And Renoise for Android would be even better!

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  • Greg

    . . . couldn't they just port milkytracker yet again?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Greg: Probably, but I think part of the whole point of mobile apps is the chance to think about UI and interaction. It'd be nice to try something that feels natural for the device.

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  • DingDong

    What a lot of nothing…

    iPhone and iPad have tons of crap like that already plus heaps of VERY useful Apps that Android will never have…

  • http://www.lazytrap.com Aaron

    dingdong's name is fitting.

    There is only one tracker for for the iphone which is the cross-platform sunvox, meanwhile there are at least 3 or 4 available (free) for most other portable o/s's, including the DS.

    +sample management on the iphone/ipad/touch, sucks and is hacky at best from app to app.

    As for apps, saying the Android marketplace and apps is non-competitive to Apple's is last years news. Keep up.

    God forbid alternatives to the great iPhone! o_O …. this fall after Win7 phone comes out my choice will be made. Android or W7 (which likely means Android), and I'll finally say goodbye to my iPhone.

    So keep it up devs! I want more options ;D

  • Omegas

    If you liked the Android port of xmp, you'll love Droidsound (http://www.appbrain.com/app/droidsound/com.ssb.droidsound). The app plays back files in the SID format from C64 and a whole slew of different Amiga music formats using the UADE emulation engine. Retro tunes heaven!

  • Skyrim Bucket Lady

    Using it, loving it. Now I don't have to convert my 70 or so favourites to mp3 to take them with me…. (except for the one .669 file that I have that will only play in mod4win. This doesn't do a bad job of it though…it's still in tune… at least…) :-D

  • Gwibble

    loving it so far, able to play the collection I’ve been storing on my mac!, thanks so much!