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Soundmonitor - C64 - Loaded.png
Creator Chris Hülsbeck
Released 1986-09-19
Platform Commodore 64
For the example songs, see Soundmonitor (C64).

Soundmonitor was probably the most popular Commodore 64 music editor in Europe of the late 1980s. It was programmed by Chris Hülsbeck to compose disco music and score games. He sold it to 64'er 10/86, where it was awarded Listing of the Month. Despite this limited release, Soundmonitor spread all over Europe within months.

All bars are entered separately and linked to each other in a track/step table: on every row (step), you set a tempo, length, volume, fade-out speed; in each cell (voice in a step), a bar, a transpose and instrument set; and on every single note, a different instrument and whether to disable transpose and enable portamento and arpeggio. It requires basic knowledge of the hexadecimal system, but is also precise. You can also record bars on the C64 keyboard, with quantization. Soundmonitor is considered the forerunner of trackers; in fact, Karsten Obarski used it before creating the MOD format. Hülsbeck considered suing him, but didn't due to his young age.

Soundmonitor supported almost all known effects at the time: transpose, detune, portamento, vibrato, pulse width modulation, filter modulation, and arpeggios (probably a first in an editor). Several demo groups added samples, most famously Rockmonitor from April 1987 (to Hülsbeck's chagrin at the time). However, the sound quickly grew old, since many arrangers used the same instruments; particularly drums were just a triangle wave sliding down. Songs were always over 10KB, and the driver was slow and unrelocatable, leading several programmers to modify the driver and compress songs.

Throughout 1987, Hülsbeck implemented better waveform changes, samples, an optimized driver called The Final Musicplayer, and sound effects, but gave it only to Georg Brandt. Over the years, composers learned programming their own drivers, and smaller, faster and better-sounding editors arrived.


The following composers used Soundmonitor on at least one game:

The following composers used Soundmonitor before scoring games:

Picture Gallery