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What is FASTFINGERS for the Commodore 64 ??

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FASTFINGERS Home of the commodore 64 Lead Synthesizer Equipment NOW SHIPPING!!

FASTFINGERS Home of the commodore 64 Lead Synthesizer Equipment NOW SHIPPING!!


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Fastfingers an extraodinary Lead Synthesizer for the Commodore 64

October 16 2013 ...C64 FastFingers Lead Synthesizer report and update... My PIC CHIP midi port is working sending NOTE ON and NOTE OFF properly and response is very good. I'm tweaking software on both sides...PIC and C64 FastFingers side and soon I'll be adding Velocity to the mix....not sure about Continous Controllers though yet.

NOVEMBER 2012 PREVIEW NEW FOR 2013



1)New GAMER effect replaces the old THICK effect.
2)Mattel Keyboard scanning removed to make place for MIDI IN
3)Better in-tune DISTORTION EFFECT
4)LIGHT SHOW CAN BE TOGGLED ON AND OFF
5)SILENCE OR REST PLAYED FOR NOTES OUT OF RANGE




sept. 2012  I'm trying to wrap up the Fastfingers project with MIDI and move onto my next project....a complete PIC chip synthesizer.

july 2012 Today I began BASIC MIDI routines with the C64 Expansion Port Sentech/Passport type MIDI interface, mostly to check my MIDI interface and also to re-familiarize myself with the MIDI commands. I was able to get my Kawai K3 to play a slew of notes which I sent to it by way of a fornext loop. So the MIDI programming re-begins..after almost 30 years. So hopefully I will be able to integrate this into Fastfingers. This in only HALF of the BASIC programming. The other HALF is to also RECEIVE notes from a MIDI keyboard to trigger the Fastfingers sounds.

The PASSPORT type MIDI interface was the most popular, and it is not easy to make a universal MIDI driver because of the way the DATA and CONTROL/STATUS registers work. There is only ONE STATUS register on the PASSPORT and the same register is also the CONTROL register. Many other MIDI interfaces will use 2 separate registers for STATUS AND CONTROL. The same goes with the DATA register. It also flips so that it can be a READ or WRITE register.

So what I'm basically saying. Is to start shopping for a PASSPORT type MIDI interface, if you plan on using Fastfingers ,in the future, with MIDI.

Dan

In the mid 80's, Robert Moog came to Wayne State in Michigan to speak. After showing off his new Kurzweil keyboard, he took the time to look at the Fastfingers software project and was very impressed with it. Hal Chamberlin, the writer of "Musical Applications of Microprocessors", said of Dan Laskowski, after seeing Fastfingers, "a born programmer."



I'm ready to ship.

The Fastfingers manual is 31 LOOSE pages. (25 pages of original manual, 5 pages of the Quick Start Guide and 1 page of 2011 updates). You can bind it any way that you want, staples, duo tang, 3 ring binder etc. It comes with 2 double sided diskettes (3 slight variations of the software and 2 variations of the sounds). This is all placed in a Zip Lock bag and shipped in a box the size of a cereal box. Send $49.95 to PAYPAL techristian@teachmedrums.com Your shipping and handling charges are included in this. (Lower 48 and Canada only) Everyone else please request a shipping quote. I also want to offer the first 20 buyers ONE FREE update. Of course, you need a C64 or C128 and a 1541 disk drive to run this !!

Add ANOTHER $49.95 and I will also add the keyboard INTERFACE shown in the videos. Total $99.90 for Fastfingers Software and keyboard interface combo.

 


 

IN 1984 Dan was finished authoring music sequencing software called "FASTFINGERS" which was reviewed in the May 1986 "Computer Shopper" 6 years later, in 1991, Compute Magazine wrote "Fastfingers was written before the MIDI explosion, yet Laskowski programmed it for 256 sounds and even coaxed an extra sub octave out of the SID chip." The SID chip is the sound chip on the Commodore 64 for for those of you that don't know. The Compute Magazine also stated "The dearth of new software for the 64 has sent developers back to their closets to have another look at older programs to see if there's something to dust off and reissue. Fastfingers is one such program, and the question arises, does it still stand up? We are compelled to give a qualified Yes."

OK now I'm going to list a few fun facts and history about the 2011 release of Fastfingers below each picture.



Fastfingers loading screen
Fastfingers loading screen

Back in 1984, before large fast hard disks, there was no way to save a whole song in real time. MIDI was just breaking in, so what I did was set up Fastfingers to record up to 5 minutes of high resolution recording ,time wise several samples per second. This took up memory AND DISK SPACE. So when you hit SAVE back then , the entire recording, updated sounds, arpeggios, and transpose bank were all saved to 160 "blocks" on the 1541 disk drive. This took 2-3 minutes and was also just as slow to LOAD. Because most of you now have access to hard disk recording , in 2011, I have released 2 versions of Fastfingers, of which you will receive BOTH. First the original, 160 block version and now a 31 block version SAVE which just saves your SOUNDS and ARPEGGIOS. 20 seconds is better than 3 minutes.....right !!! So for 2011 there is the LONG SAVE and SHORT SAVE versions.



Fastfingers main performance screen
Fastfingers main performance screen



Tuning was tricky back then. We never had the cheap electronic tuners that we have today. Recently I discovered that 10% of the time you may hit a C and be playing a G or E. Most of the time this is due to RING modulation which modulates the main key with a part of the chord. Because of this, for 2011, I have gone through the entire 256 STANDARD sound bank and tweaked most of the sounds to fix this problem. If the sounds changed too much , I didn't modify them. There may be 4 or 5 sounds still in a different key, but I left them that way because the SOUND would have changed horribly. Fastfingers main performance screen SEQUENCER flashes when in arpeggio mode
Fastfingers main performance screen. SEQUENCER flashes when in arpeggio mode



Now ,up above, I was talking about the STANDARD sound bank, but there is also a DBX sound bank which I created way back. I tweaked all of the 256 sounds while monitoring through a DBX box. This was because I wanted to remove the noise from the SID chip and raise the S/N ratio to better than 70db. The DBX box handled noise reduction in 2 ways. During recording it would COMPRESS the sound making the quieter parts louder and making the louder parts quieter. During recording it also kicked up the high frequencies or treble. I did the same with the the Fastfinger sounds. The DBX version has longer DECAY and RELEASE times and filtering is more BAND PASS and HIGH PASS and less LOW PASS. I no longer have a DBX to play these sounds through though, but this could be re-created today by turning the tone down and using a 2-1 or 3-1 EXPANDER PLUGIN while recording in Cubase, Sonar, Pro Tools etc.. The DBX sounds are on the FLIP sides of the 2 disks.



Fastfingers 3 voice editing screen
Fastfingers 3 voice editing screen



If I can fully "WRAP MY HEAD" around the 1984 source code, I would like to have a Fastfingers II program to release in 2012-2013. It would be a DJ fun box to play, with a different arpeggio on every KEY using all of the great Fastfingers SOUNDS of the current release. No promises here though, because Fastfingers is enormously complex with over 25 pages of source code.



Fastfingers bank of sounds screen
Fastfingers bank of sounds screen



I'm also planning on releasing Fastfingers for the KORG KAOSSILATOR. It will be on either DVD or 2GB SD card.



Fastfingers Octaves and Harmonics editing screen
Fastfingers Octaves and Harmonics editing screen



I'm planning on releasing many Fastfingers Arpeggios to be used with Ableton Live and the Novation Launchpad.

March 20 2011
Ok. Today I have created a whole new FREQUENCY table which will make Fastfingers even more IN TUNE, but everyone will also get the original frequency table because this may change the sounds somewhat. I haven't heard it yet but theoretically it should be more in tune. I'm getting this fine tuned now. It wasn't very serious. It may have been out less that 1 CENT for U.S. and Canadian C64 computers. The North American table in the Commodore 64 Programmers Reference Manual was based on a 1 mhz clock and the clock isn't really EXACTLY 1 mhz. I punched in the new NTSC numbers. Next I'll have to create a Table for our European friends.

 





C64 or C128 "under the knife" for LESS NOISE !!!
ONLY ATTEMPT IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCED WITH A SOLDERING IRON. I WILL TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY IF YOU FRY YOUR C64 !!!GET A TECHNICIAN TO HELP YOU IF YOU CAN'T PERFORM THE MOD YOURSELF !!!

What worked for me in the end was that I piggybacked 2 6581 SIDS (Sound Interface Device) on top of each other. Pin 27 (Audio out) no longer touches the circuit board. The pins are lifted away and soldered to the center conductor of 2 shielded cables. Shorting Pin 26 (Ext IN) to GND worked fine for some non filtered sounds, but killed other sounds. I have instead CUT OFF Pin 26 so that it doesn't pick up noise from the PCB. If you need to plug your guitar into the SID, then this won't work for you. The SHIELD of the 2 shielded cables are connected to Pin 14 (GND) which I must admit is awkward. The other ends are connected to a stereo pair of RCA phono plugs.

So what is the result?

First off, MUCH LESS NOISE !! My SIDS never sounded so good. Second some of the sounds with heavy filtering or Noise sound like STEREO !! I guess that this is because each SID will produce a different set of random numbers for the NOISE wave. Also I used SIDS from 2 completely different batches. One was a very early one, housed in CERAMIC with gold pins and the other was in PLASTIC, from 2 different batches with at least 2 years between. Because of this, the filter cutoff characteristics were slightly different.

These old C64 sounds are AMAZING in the Korg Kaossilator , clean and clear in Stereo!

I can't do much more hacking to these SIDS. I might kill them with too much heat, but the next step would be to create a new CS (chip select) signal for the extra SID so it sits in a different memory location. Then I would reprogram FASTFINGERS so that it sends every other note to each chip.(not killing the RELEASE that way.)

This is my C128 below, with only ONE SID chip. The hack is even uglier after 2 SIDs are piggybacked BUT WORKS !!

 

Below is a video using the Fastfingers Lead Synthesizer software for Commodore 64 and my drumming. I added a new Lightshow feature to Fastfingers, which changes the color of the in time with the music.

All of the sounds are C64 Fastfingers sounds except for my drumming.



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