TED talks have always been about presenting ideas worth spreading, so I’m glad to see they’ve put Chiptunes on display. TED talks try to gain a deeper discussion in a local field, TEDx is more for local programs, and Dan (Dan Behrens, aka Danimal Cannon) hit it off. As Dan described Chiptunes, he defined it as…
… Any music made using, or emulating the sound of, old video game consoles and their soundchips.
Technically with that definition, the PS4 could also be considered platform for Chiptunes, but it’s the sound that Dan and the others are attracted to, not particularly a beefy console. Dan’s chip of choice being a classic Gameboy, he continued into his list of consoles that other artists use to make Chiptunes. Consoles such as the NES, Genesis, Commodore 64, Atari Amiga, and many others. As Dan described, it’s really about taking minimalist hardware, and pushing it to the maximum potential.
The talk itself features some excellent music past the 4:35 mark. Take a listen.
Dan went further to talk about a trend taking place in music software, one that makes music controls easier to use, but leaves you ignorant to what the controls directly changed to achieve its sound. For instance, if you use a plug-in that has a fader controlling a “Smash” parameter, what is the “Smash” doing exactly? Does it EQ the sound? Is something being filtered? Does it matter? By using plug-ins like that, Dan considered it a failing to learn.
Dan also stated that such software is good for businesses, which is true. Music software that gives the end user the sounds they desire is often the goal developers strive for. However, Dan insisted that Chiptune is not a response to such easy-to-use music software, but rather it evolved by itself into where it currently stands in the community.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you agree that simple and easy to use software actually does make you less curious about how the sound was achieved?
With an interest in chip tune music must come a certain desire to figure out the best reproduction of those chip tune sounds. Having a synthesizer myself, I always thought creating a chip tune piece was as simple as using a square wave coming out of my analog SH-201. Everyone has a different method, but this was my approach. Despite different approaches, there is a tremendous difference in the sounds produced from any sound chip, let alone those in video game consoles and handheld devices.
For instance, the timbre of a C64 square wave sounds way different than an NES square wave. They are both square waves, yet the aesthetics that make up the sound drastically differs for each system. If you were going to create an NES based chip tune, it wouldn’t help to emulate chip sounds from a C64, or in my case, my analog SH-201. How can someone spot the difference? Inverse Phase, Mr. MAGFest, as some call him, often teaches people the differences, so they could be armed with an applicable sound palette before creating their own chip tunes. Today, I’ll go over some of these differences thanks to a lecture by Inverse Phase titled Music from Old Sound Chips.
I’ve been using Reason ever since version 1.0 to make video game remixes. Reason has always been plagued with problems that its community has suffered through, accepting its flaws as features. I have always been a huge supporter of Reason but it’s only until recently that I have grown to dislike Reason 6.5 due to certain features offered in the latest software. I’m talking about Rack Extensions, which is essentially Propellerhead’s version of Plugins for Reason. It’s such a gamble to allow plugins after releasing 6 versions of Reason that I feel it’s only fair in critiquing them on their flaws surrounding Rack Extensions. For me, these flaws are so bad, I’d rather not use Rack Extensions. I’d like to go though some of these flaws, and offer some solutions to the problems in Rack Extensions.
More after the Jump.
One part remixer, one part business entrepreneur, all parts party animal, Chris Davidson aka “Dj CUTMAN” aka “Video Game DJ” (website / Twitter) is someone you need to know about. His career in game music started a few years ago, at a MAGFest event. Since then, he and his label “GameChops” have begun to proliferate the scene. And, with the help of the newly-formed Joypad Records, they’re doing it in a way that allows for proper licensing of the source material.
To learn more about that process, the label, and what Dj CUTMAN will be laying down at MAGFest 11, as well as his latest release (a free set called Pinball Wizardry), be sure to listen to this latest episode! For this one, the co-hosts are myself (Patrick) and Brenna Wilkes.
Download: Original SoundCAST Episode #017
Intro music: “I Am Error” from Bagu and the Riverman
Outro music: “I Know Nothing” from Bagu and the Riverman
PS – Happy Black Friday. Buy something from a GameChops artist and I’ll personally high-five you at MAGFest. Twice.
Solar Fields (aka Magnus Birgersson) has been crafting sonic textures to melt your ears and envelop your soul for well over a decade. In the video game world, he is best known for his work composing the fantastic Mirror’s Edge soundtrack while also contributing the music from his album Movements to the Alien Trap game Capsized. He is also an acclaimed DJ and producer who is currently in the studio writing the followup to his last album Random Friday. In this exclusive interview with OSV, Magnus gives us some insight into his creative process and his experiences performing live.
Please note: This interview was conducted as a text-based correspondence, and we’ve chosen to leave Birgersson’s emoticons intact. We think the underlying message from the composer is that we should all smile more. (more…)
To us, Andrew Aversa is one of the few people who really represents what game music is all about. That’s because, even in the past year, Andrew has shown himself as a force to be reckoned with on all fronts: AAA game music, indie game music, and fan-made arrangements.
In this episode, Brenna Wilkes and I talk with Andrew for a solid hour about his work on Globulous (which Brenna recently reviewed), on Soul Calibur V, and the super-funded Kickstarter campaign for the OCRemix album under his direction: Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin. This last topic takes up over half of the episode, and it should! At the time we recorded this (Saturday), the campaign was at $60,000, 400% of the $15,000 goal. As I’m writing this post, they’re now at $75,000. I also got *this* in a Kickstarter Backer’s email:
What does that mean? Well, everyone who’s getting a physical copy of “Balance and Ruin” will also get a newly-printed, *all 4 disc* version of Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Lifestream as well. That’s good stuff.
Anyway, listen to the episode to learn about everything zircon’s up to. And if you want even more podcast-delivered info on the Balance and Ruin project, please check out this great Nitro Game Injection “after-show” recording with Larry “Liontamer” Oji, which was just recorded on Sunday.
Download: Original SoundCAST Episode #014
If you want to know what BGM we have behind all that talk-talk-talk, click the “more” button. (more…)
UPDATE (7/12/2012): Our plea has not fallen on deaf ears! MagicalTimeBean has released Escape Goat Powermouse Mix Collection on Bandcamp for free! Not even “pay-what-you-want” free, just super-duper free!
Last November, we highlighted the release of MagicalTimeBean’s latest game, Escape Goat, and its Falcom-inspired soundtrack.
Then, just last month, the game was featured in Indie Royale’s June Bug Bundle, which also had Auditorium, PixelJunk Eden and Noitu Love 2. It also included the Escape Goat Original Soundtrack (available on bandcamp) and the all-new arranged album Escape Goat Powermouse Mix Collection.
The latter album was made exclusively available as part of the June Bug Bundle, and is otherwise not being sold anywhere. After the jump, I’ll make my case as to why those who missed the bundle should still get a chance to hop on this fantastic arranged album. And, wouldn’t you know it, one of OSV’s own is featured on that arranged album!! To find out who, just keep on reading! (more…)
Today marks the release of the neo-retro Strategy RPG Rainbow Moon (eastasiasoft, PS3), and we have an interview with the game’s composer Rafael Dyll. He has embarked on his most ambitious project to date. Previously known for the trance influenced Söldner-X soundtrack, Dyll was tasked with creating the sonic environment for almost all of Rainbow Moon. Dyll was kind enough to speak with us about what it was like composing for Rainbow Moon, his start in the industry, and the current state of game composing!
Does this game, or its soundtrack, interest you? If so, be sure to head to Rafael’s facebook page, hit “like” to add yourself as a fan, and leave a comment saying that “OSV sent you.” Everyone who does this over the next two weeks will be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of the Rainbow Moon Melodies soundtrack CD and a download coupon for the exclusive “Last Chapter Tracks” digital album download as well. So, if you like good/free stuff, get on that, and then join us after the jump for the interview! (more…)
UPDATE! – it looks like IGN isn’t the only site taking polls for this album. Be sure to check out Kotaku and vote there as well!
Big-budget studios always have at their fingertips the option to go big-budget with their music and hire an orchestra. For indie devs, however, a full orchestra performing music for their games is like a pipe dream. Keep that in mind as you read the following…
Earlier today, Andrew Goldfarb posted a poll over at IGN. The poll is aptly titled, “Vote for The Greatest Video Game Music.” The reference, of course, is to this album that came out earlier this year, a veritable who’s-who of franchises having their musical themes performed by the London Philharmonic.
This poll apparently holds some official sway over what game(s) will be represented on the album’s sequel, “The Greatest Video Game Music II.” Here’s my problem, and perhaps the problem, with said poll. 90% of the items listed here have been arranged and performed to death by orchestras the world over in the last decade. To me, there’s one glaring exception, and there’s a lot at stake, in my mind. Below I’m going to list the poll options, with citations to other venues/recordings where the game/franchise has had its music placed over the years:
With the exception of a few oddball titles on that list (Golden Sun and LBP stand out as sore thumbs), everything on this list is already orchestrated. It’s already available for consumption in many forms, or else it will be in a few months from one of any number of venues. And consider this: where are the other “indie” games in this list? The break-out burgeoning genre defined by its financial constraints and lack of a third party publisher has gotten ZERO legitimate orchestral coverage.
Ladies and gentlemen, I say we demand change. And this place is just as good a place as any to start. I urge you to vote for Disasterpeace’s FEZ soundtrack to receive the orchestral treatment from the London Philharmonic; should this succeed, who knows what’s next? I’m still holding out for an orchestral tour of break-out insta-classic indie games from the past few years. Think about it: World of Goo, Aquaria, Super Meat Boy, Minecraft, FEZ and so many others, all handled by the archetypal ensemble of instruments for the past 500 years. Let’s get the ball rolling.
Rich Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace) is well known for creating delicate, joyous dreamscapes allowing the listener to let his disintegrating pulse waves wash over them like a tender storm. He is now thrust into the spotlight once again after providing FEZ with its magnificent, critically acclaimed soundtrack, which can be found at disasterpeace.com. He has also recently appeared in both the Indie Game Music Bundle 2 (podcast interview here) as well as the Indie Royale Lightning Pack bundle (the latter of which sees all proceeds going to charity). Rich was kind enough to answer a few questions about his latest release and give us a glimpse into his creative process.
The idea of motif and theme continuity is an important one. Much like a writer, thematic phrases allow composers to build and tell a story. However, as George “The Fatman” Sanger describes in Tasty Morsels of Sonic Goodness, one of the mistaken assumptions for the intermediate-level composer is “I should repeat my musical themes in order to emphasize them, just as I learned in composition class.” The thought is that repetition and reiteration of themes can be grating on the listener (to say the least). I mean, how many times can you listen to the same melody over and over again before you just mute the game and listen to your MP3’s? It happens quite a lot—and, in my humble opinion, mostly in the video game industry.
But fear not! I’m going to suggest taking a different approach to thematic writing in your soundtrack. Normally composers consider melodies to be themes as melodies are the most obvious channels for communicating the theme. But if you think about it, melody is only one of several components to a composition, right? What about harmonic intervals? Rhythm? Instrumentation? Register? If you really think about it, there are a LOT of puzzle pieces to a composition. So naturally, that means that all of these ‘puzzle pieces’ are part of your theme.
You can use any one of these elements to reiterate and develop themes. Take a look at this demo piece that I put together to show this. Notice how the melody drops out in the second part of the piece, but you can still feel continuity between the first and the second parts. This is because I am reiterating the theme in a variety of alternative ways…mainly rhythmically and harmonically.
So, fellow video game composer, I implore you. Don’t make me sit through hours of gameplay where I listen to the same theme every time I see the bad guy. Switch it up and make the score an interesting, organic tapestry of storytelling!
Kunal mentioned in his review of LA Scoring Strings a few weeks back that strings are particularly challenging to recreate in a synthesized environment. Well, if you’re like me and prefer to use synthesized sounds, you’ve probably heard of Omnisphere, Spectrasonics’ flagship soft synth (or ‘Power Synth,’ as they refer to it).
While Dale reviewed the original release of Omnisphere a couple years ago, Spectrastonics recently launched version 1.5, offering more sounds and capabilities, so I thought I’d take a stab at this beast, and have even written two tracks using the software for your listening pleasure.
Hit the jump for our full review of Omnisphere v1.5! (more…)