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What you're probably asking right now is "What the heck do you mean by a mod?" Well, mod is short for "module", and is a format (actually, a class of formats) for storing music on a computer. The module format originated on the Amiga computer system back in the late 1980s, and is still a popular form of music today, albeit in a more modern and updated style. In terms of the actual styles of music people write using mod formats, it tends to centre around electronic music and is generally without vocals, but covers genres such as techno, rock, dance, pop, funk, jazz and so on.

Each mod consists of a set of samples (sounds of instruments) and patterns (information on how the samples should be played in sequence - basically the musical score). Mods have at least four channels, meaning that four samples can be played simultaneously - some mods use up to 30 channels! Depending on the exact module format used, special effects that you'd typically expect from an electronic keyboard are available (portamento, fading, etc.).

Mod Players

To play mods you'll need a program capable of handling them. Winamp can do it, but it is so poor at playing them properly I would definitely recommend against it (it often has trouble playing the right patterns in sequence and misses out certain effects - in fact, some mods won't even play at all). The player I would recommend is ModPlug Player. It plays everything just about perfectly, can play mods inside archives (ZIP, LHA etc.) and lots more.

My favourites

Here are some of my favourite mods:

Cream of the Earth??An old classic.
Ascent of the Cloud EagleNecros1995Very nice ethnic tune.
demotune.addSupernao/Azazel1996Nice mix of ambient and drum & bass. Works quite well, and shows what you can do with only 4 channels.
Ambient PowerVogue1993From the demo Crystal Dreams II. Not the only mod by this name either, although the other one is decent enough too.
Unreal ][Purple Motion1993From the classic Future Crew demo "Second Reality". Nice techno/demostyle track.
Mechanism EightNecros1996You must've guessed by now that I'm a big Necros fan, right? :-) This mod was used in the game Unreal Tournament.
Alien EarthLemm1999Sort of spooky electronic rock.
the last sunFrederic Hahn1989Another classic - an almost sad tune.
SuspiriaJogeir Liljedahl1997Sounds almost like arcade game music.
NetworkSkaven1994Nice synthesizer tune.

How do you make a mod?

Mods are made (tracked) using a program called a tracker. There are quite a few trackers available now - for an extensive list, visit Maz Sound Tools and look under Trackers.