Karsten Obarski

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Karsten Obarski
Karsten Obarski - 01.jpg
Born 1965-05-11
Birth Place
Nationality German   Germany.svg
  • Muzak Wizzard
  • Obi

Karsten Obarski is a former Amiga game composer, best known as the creator of the MOD format.

In 1981, Obarski happened upon a friend's Commodore PET 2001. After weeks on its built-in BASIC, he wanted his own computer, got a Commodore VIC-20 for Christmas and programmed games in BASIC, some of which he states were published as type-ins in several magazines. Soon after, he bought a Commodore 64, kept tinkering in machine code and assembly, arranged music on his synthesizer connected to C-Lab SuperTrack, its predecessor, and on Chris Hülsbeck's Soundmonitor. Hülsbeck would later consider suing him for re-using many ideas in Soundtracker, which he didn't due to his young age.

After Obarski's third C64 broke, he thought about buying a Commodore 128D but ended up buying an Amiga 1000 around early 1987. Baffled that Amiga songs were one memory-hungry sample that could last only seconds, he developed a driver that used small instrument samples from his Yamaha DX21. Meanwhile, a friend asked him to score his game Amegas. Since entering the note values in source code was tedious, he created a soon-famous editor program, Ultimate Soundtracker.

Amegas was released by reLINE Software, who, like them, resided in Hanover, and Obarski went on to score more games for them and for a few other companies while developing Soundtracker further from December 1987 to mid-1988, at some point selling it to EAS. He did coding for disk drives and additional game design on Window Wizard (AMI).

As of 2002, Obarski works in electronics, occasionally writing test programs, and composes using Cakewalk on a PC, just for fun, jamming or covering his gameography. Other hobbies are his wife, friends, old house and motorbikes.

He likes harmony and instrumental music and dislikes hip hop and techno. His favorite bands are Queen, Genesis, Electric Light Orchestra, but he also likes some music by Backstreet Boys, Shaggy, Sash, and Jean-Michel Jarre. He admired Martin Galway, Rob Hubbard, Chris Hülsbeck and the programmer Jeff Minter. His favorite MODs have included Hymn to Rob and MODs from Phenomena he stated to have covered on his keyboards in 1992, at the same time expressing regret about bad MODs.

He dislikes his early MODs, but likes Oil Imperium, the title and in-game songs of Dyter-07, tankscores from Future Tank and track 3 of the unreleased game Rotator. He prefers "silly" synthesized sounds over samples.

In July 2012, he posted a song on YouTube, telling how he wished to contact his former boss, Holger Gehrmann, only to learn he had passed away 4 years earlier, and, together with a song about his life changes and a cover of 500 Miles, on SoundClick. He later disabled comments on that video and by 2015, deleted his accounts altogether.

Music Development


Until 1989, Obarski used his own versions of Soundtracker on an Amiga 1000 with a low-pass filter. He initially sampled from a Yamaha DX21, most likely as his documentation said: Sample an F at 11200 Hz using a FutureSound digitizer and find a loop point using 68000er, PerfectSound or Audiomaster software. He also had DSound. The driver was available in source for SEKA Assembler, and the documentation said to set its variables to the MOD structure and the 15 samples.

In 1989, he developed a new, incompatible tracker called Synthpack which combined sampled percussion with real-time synthesized melodies. It is only found in his last video game music.


Released Title Sample
1987-11-?? Crystal Hammer (AMI)
1987-??-?? Amegas (AMI)
1987-??-?? Rallye Master (AMI)
1988-0?-?? Detector (AMI)
1988-0?-?? Future Tank (AMI)
1988-??-?? Project 1 (AMI)
1988-??-?? Sarcophaser (AMI)
1989-??-?? Oil Imperium (AMI)
1990-??-?? Dyter-07 (AMI)
1992-??-?? Centerbase (AMI)
Unreleased Rotator (AMI)

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