Chip Music

Famicompo Mini Celebrates NES Music, Features Song With Chip Vocals

November 18, 2008 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Famicompo Mini Celebrates NES Music, Features Song With Chip Vocalson Twitter

Nostalgic for the sounds of simpler times? Consider checking out some of the brand new music released for the classic Nintendo Entertainment System. Many artists are still composing fresh tunes for it, and some are even using the format for competitions like Famicompo Mini.

Famicompo Mini is a yearly Japanese-run global music competition that keeps alive the spirit of Nintendo’s first major console by requiring participants to write and submit songs in the .NSF format, which is native to the NES. Composers can choose to use one or both of two different sound chips, the first built into the console itself (2A03) and the second an expansion chip found inside many Konami cartridges (VRC6) that increases the available number of waveforms and channels.

Read more about Famicompo Mini and hear Yesso’s vocal chip song “Casanova” after the jump.

Famicompo Mini Vol. 5, the most recent competition, took place in August 2008. It was divided into two categories: original songs and covers of existing material. All told, there were a whopping 102 song entries. Many of them were great, some were not bad, and a couple stood out as amazing tracks.

Squeaking into the top 10, Yesso’s entry “Casanova” caught my ear with its flowing integration of melody and harmony, but every time I listened, I heard some jarring artifacts in the lead instrument that almost sounded like mistakes. The song was near-perfect, so why would he leave those in? I asked the composer about the significance of those blips and received an interesting response.

OSV: I loved your Famicompo entry “Casanova,” but what was going on with the high-pitched squeals?
Yesso: Oh, that. When I was writing it I was sleep deprived enough to think I could simulate speech with the pulse waves. I stayed up until 11 a.m.–the deadline–writing it. And one minute after I submitted it, the submissions were closed.

OSV: One of my favorite parts about the lead is the way it’s not rhythmically perfect and has some pitch wobbling like a human voice.
Yesso: I didn’t expect anyone to understand the speech, but I thought maybe people would get that the first word is “Casanova” since the title is that.

OSV: Wow, now I hear it. What are the rest of the lyrics?
Yesso: It’s supposed to be, “Casanova lived a life of love; and I wonder, what’s mine of?”

Check out Yesso’s song “Casanova” and hear the technique for yourself.

Can you hear the lyrics? Is Famicompo Mini one of the coolest ideas you’ve ever heard?

[Photo via Famicompo Mini]

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