Patterns are the beating heart of trackers. A pattern is a collection of one or more (in the case of Dream Tracker more) channels with a number of rows. 64 rows is common (which is the current max row size for Dream Tracker). Typically patterns are displayed with channels going across the top and rows going downward - sort of like a player piano.

Each channel in a row can have notes places within it along with an instrument number and an optional volume and effect value. The instrument tells the sound engine which instrument to play and is always required when playing a note. If volume is ommitted, the default volume of the instrument is used unless there are active effect influencing the volume (such as a fast volume sweep).

VERA instruments can be played on channels $00-$0F (00-15) and you can switch instruments as often as you feel like. This can be extremely advantageous for sculpting the sound.

Effects are optional and allow modulating the sound of the channel. There are global, shared and unique effects.

Some effects are temporal and only fire when they are called and some persist until they are turned off. For more information see the Effects section of the manual.

When a song is being played, the sound engine scans each row in a pattern from top to bottom. When it reaches the end, it will consult the Orders list to fetch the next pattern. In this way an entire song can be constructed by arranging patterns.

Be sure you are in Pattern Edit mode (F2).

Key Function
Arrow-Keys Move around
TAB Move to next channel
SHIFT-TAB Move to previous channel
ALT-1 Jump to First PSG Channel
ALT-2 Jump to First FM Channel
ALT-3 Jump to PCM Channel
Page Up Move up 16 rows
Page Down Move down 16 rows
Home Go to first row ($00)
End Go to last row ($3F)
[ Decrease octave
] Increase octave
- Jump to previous pattern in order list
+ Jump to next pattern in order list
ALT-B Mark begin of block
ALT-E Mark end of block
ALT-V Paste block
ALT-I Assign instrument to block
ALT-] Shift notes in block up by 1 semitone
ALT-[ Shift notes in block down by 1 semitone

Placing Notes and Effects

Pattern Example

The first 3 dots are the note. To place a note, use the keyboard like a sort of piano. Pressing Z will place a C-# where # is the current selected octave. Q will place a C at an octave above the currently selected octave. From here you can experiment to figure out the rest, but it functions very similar to the keys on a piano.

To select an instrument, arrow over to the instrument colum, which is the 2nd set of dots right next to the note. If there is already an instrument there you can replace it. In doing so you will update the selected instrument so the next time you place a note, it will use that instrument.

Next is the volume column. As noted this is optional but if you want to specify a volume or volume effect, you would put it here.

Then the effects. Effects are two parts. The first is the effect parameter and the second is the value for that parameter. You can read more about them in the Effects section of the manual.


There are two special notes you can place in patterns. Pressing the 1 key while on the note part of a pattern/row will place a ---. This is a special note called NOTEOFF which immediately stops the note being played.

Pressing ` will place a NOTEREL (Note-Release) which is 3 PETSCII up-arrows. While NOTEOFF immediately stops the note, NOTEREL allows automation to continue depending on how the instrument has been setup.

Organizing Patterns

While many modern trackers tend to be based around Fast Tracker ][ and more specifically FamiTracker, Dream Tracker is based around Impulse Tracker. It uses some of the same keyboard shortcuts and, unlike many modern trackers, uses a single pattern and a single order list.

By contrast, Furnace adopts a one pattern per channel approach where these patterns can be ordered in dependently. This has pros and cons. Neither is necessarily better than the other and either can be used to make great music for the X16.

For more information on arranging patterns, check out the Orders part of the manual.