Buzz 1.1

Recommended system requirements for Buzz and its proprietary machines are hard to come by to say the least, but suffice to say, the software should run fine on any Pentium PC with 32Mb RAM and Windows 9x/NT. However, plug-in effects and instruments (the ‘machines’ we just mentioned) will have their own requirements that will need to be met in order to work properly within Buzz, so, as ever, the more powerful your computer, the better.
Long before the days of £500 soundcards, virtual synths and mega-fast processors, ‘computer music’ meant hooking up an Atari ST to a bank of synths, and then using a sequencer like Steinberg’s Pro-24 or Cubase to make tunes the hard way. At the same time, though, there was another group of musicians out there getting busy with sound samples, and even with virtual synthesizers on their not-quite-so-well-known Commodore Amiga computers.

For these people, Tracker programs like Octamed were the main tools. Trackers were designed originally as a quick way for programmers to add ‘high quality’ music to their video games. Because they were intended to be used by programmers rather than us mere mortals, Trackers have an unusual, spreadsheet-like way of inputing notes and parameter values – rows represent the beats of the bar, and the columns are for each parameter.

There’s no doubt that Trackers are a little bit harder to use than MIDI sequencers such as Cubase and Logic but that’s nothing that a little CM tutorial can’t fix! Buzz has still got the old spreadsheet-style interface for putting in patterns, but it doesn’t limit you just to mixing up samples – you can also use all manner of virtual synths and FX units (called ‘machines’ in Buzz-speak). With the right machines you can load up VST effects plug-ins or even use MIDI if you want to! Even better, Buzz is totally free, and you can add new machines for nothing more than a local rate phone call by downloading them from the net. The best place to start is, and if you run the word ‘buzz’ through a search engine, you’ll find a load more websites packed with Buzz goodness. With a little searching you could soon have a whole army of new synths and sound-mangling effects to play with!

Buzz has got to be the cheapest way to make music on your PC (it doesn’t get much cheaper than free, after all!) so, follow our tutorial below and you’ll be making top tunes in no time.