[The Y in FBY........]
A mystery that continues in the decades

The first time I saw FBY, he was sleeping on the stands of the arena where The Italian Gathering 1997 was taking place. The party was almost finished, and they were announcing the winner of the 4 channel music compo (which was FBY himself). Someone started yelling at him, but he continued sleeping, until they threw him his prize and he awoke.

FBY playing an A minor chord; some retro tech and retro guys on the right (Bernie and Alex)

FBY is a great musician. The parties he won speak for themselves: 1st at The Party 1995, 1st at Saturne 1996, 1st at The Italian Gathering 1997 and 1998, 1st at Outline 2006, and so on. But more than looking at placements, you should experience his mods in first person. If you haven't heard of him, well, lucky you: you have a world to discover today. I suggest (but it's just my personal opinion) to start with Apache, Strange flower and Sambing to have a quick glance of his art, and then dig deeper if you like his style (you will).

So I reached FBY and asked him to talk about his musical origins, tracked music and music in general.

I've read that you started with a guitar and that your sisters carried you (or forced you to go) to music lessons. Is your family a family of musicians? Did you study classical music?

Yes. I began to sing when I was young, and then my sisters and I started to take private guitar lessons with maestro Carlo Mascilli. It was really fun: our teacher gave us pieces to study at home, and then we had to replay them during the lesson. At the end of each lesson, the teacher played for us... he was fantastic. Ivana [his sister, Ed.] quit first, while Sandra continued studying really hard. I was not studying that much, but still managed to keep up with the lessons, and after a while I started to bring to the lesson my own pieces (I was starting to show the traits of a composer, more than a performer). At our first recital, I played music from Leo Brouwer, Dionisio Aguado and three preludes written by me :)

So yes, I had a classical education that influenced my first compositions, like the "Piano Sound" I-V and "FBY Studio" I-IV series. By the way, the first music program I used wasn't a tracker, but a pentagram-based composing software, "Aegis Sonix".

The loading screen of Aegis Sonix wasn't bad.

In 1998 you said: "I like travelling a lot, so I don't think I will stay in Florence much more or in a stable way; I'd like to spend quite some time in America, maybe near a big lake with big trouts inside". How did it go then? Did you catch some big trout in America? :)

No, but my father went there :)
I've been in New York and for some time in the flat-ish Florida. I was at Delray Beach and often went to Miami and the beaches near there. I travelled a lot, across Europe in the 90s and then also in Asia. In the last few years, I really dug into Tiziano Terzani's books on the subject. 

Italians at Assembly 1996. Can you spot FBY?

Tell us something about the "acid" period of FBY's music, the one that brought pieces like "Acido Puro". Too many hours spent at the disco or just a consequence of the 90s?

Both things, I would say :)
At that time, with my friends Francesco and Demetrio we were listening to "a martello" music [an Italian expression to identify music similar to gabber or with a pumping bass drum, Ed.] every evening. If you like Acido Puro, you should also like Tetriade and Klassica.

Did you ever compose that kind of modules where notes make drawings in the patterns or the pattens go backwards?

No, never. But I appreciate Audiomonster and other musicians that did this kind of stuff. Really ingenious!

Apache. What's the title about? The public release of the .xm dates to 1998, but there are two other versions in different keys. Can you tell us something about the birth of this module?

The title comes from the American Indian tribe... not from the open source web server :) The first version was made in 1988 with Aegis Sonix (4 channels), the second version was made with 2 Amigas playing simultaneously in Soundtracker (8 channels), and the third and final version was made with Fast Tracker and rendered with Deliplayer (with additional stereo sound and reverb).

How did I track one module on 2 Amigas, you may ask... My friend Bernie [Bernardo Innocenti, Ed.] invented an interface that duplicated the mouse movements on the 2 Amigas, when needed, and created a home-made mixer for sound output. He also wrote an Amiga utility called "XModule", that was able to merge two 4ch modules into an 8ch one, and to convert Oktalyzer modules [Oktalyzer is a tracker often used by FBY, Ed.] into .mods.

Another piece I really like is the soundtrack for "Mille e non più mille", a 64k by Spyral that was presented at Mekka/Symposium 1997. Did you have problems staying within the 64k limit (the mod is 20k)?

Not really. I was used to write chip music. For example, I produced other small mods, like "Lucky day" (43k), "Amiga monkey shine" (63k), and the more well known "Superjazz" (aka "Oh yes, Jazz!", 86k compressed), that won the chiptune compo at DiHALT 2007 in Russia.

What are those guys doing?

A question on "inspiration". Talking about non-commissioned music, how does inspiration come for you? You just stand in front of the tracker and start composing, or you imagine a melody when you're walking, or you play an instrument or all of the above?

The first option. I regularly opened the tracker, every afternoon, and started composing what came to my mind. As you can see in the page that collects all my mods (FBY ALL MUSIC), I really covered a lot of genres. I liked to experiment and I enjoyed composing music in every style and genre. For example Andalusia, that recalls Spanish/Andalusian music (I've also been there on vacation) and Paco de Lucia's one.

Is there a relationship between your mood when you are tracking and the quality of the music you produce, or this is really randomic? Where does quality, the thing that makes a piece stand as a masterpiece that is remembered, come from, in your opinion?

Yes, there is a relationship. But there is also a random, experimental factor. For me, the quality of a musical piece comes from its originality (that's why I love Pink Floyd, a band that experimented a lot) and then from its tracking and musical technique.

In another interview, you said: "In the future, more than affirming myself, I hope to create a series of skills, working practices, and a commercial system that would put in the spotlight artists, creators and not the usual merchants". Do you think that with Youtube, Soundcloud, and all the platforms to share music we are near to your idea of 20 years ago?

Yes, that's true: the "new" Internet gave to everybody the chance to put their music online, and for sure this is a good thing. At the time of that interview, anyway, I was starting the company "Nayma Software", in 1998, so in my mind there was the idea to establish a more open and free way of working to create software and electronic art. Nowadays, some companies, like Google, are near to that ideal, giving their employees that kind of freedom and flexibility.

Music in the demoscene has always been free, but very good, nonetheless.
Do you think that music should have a price? Or do you think that there can be a system that would give free music to the listener without letting the artist starve [maybe called Patreon or Spotify, Ed.]?

In my opinion, music should be free. In fact, my motto has always been "Fby's music is free music". Musicians have always been starving, little exceptions apart.

Last question: after all these years, you can tell us: F=Fabio, B=Barzagli... and Y=?

Sorry, it's a secret I will take to my grave :)

It has been a pleasure speaking with FBY and discovering his tracking secrets (but not the secret of his nickname, unfortunately). He's also involved in social themes (he mantains a portal on divorced fathers and paternity, www.paternita.info) and he writes thoughts and aphorisms (www.FabioBarzagli.net - in Italian).

We hope to hear more music from him soon!

posted by friol at 8/12/2020 04:53:00 PM - under: , , , , , , , - comments? here (0)

the Tunnel - demoscene blog(c) friol 2o18