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Thread: Letís talk about writing Chiptune and 8-bit music!

  1. #1
    Darkness on the edge of Tone TwilightOdyssey's Avatar
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    Default Letís talk about writing Chiptune and 8-bit music!

    Sorry, long post below. Skip to the TL;DR if you cba.

    My dive into Synth Obscura continues! A recent recommended video on YouTube sent me digging into the world of Chiptuneó electronic music made to emulate the soundtracks from old 8/16 bit video games, particularly the Nintendo GameBoy.

    As with everything else, there are two approaches to writing Chiptune; one approach is to use your DAW as normal but with limited tracks and emulation plugins or raw wave forms; the other approach is to use what is called a Tracker ... actual software in the style used by the original game composers. Trackers can export either wav files or the actual file type used by the game system. In theory you can then play your music on the actual original game system. (This has been done by some creative people in the DIY/maker community).

    There is also a third branch of the Chiptune tree, called LSDJ; they use an actual GameBoy hack to make the unit itself into a tracker for writing, recording, and playing back music.

    The fourth branch of Chiptune enthusiasts are non-musicians who hack old video games and use trackers to play back the music only.

    And the fifth branch are similar to the fourth except they take the ripped music and then create remixes in the tracker.

    I think the appeal of a Chiptune is its minimalist approachó how much can do do with how little? That really appeals to me, so I looked online for a tracker. I settled on DefleMask after watching some tutorials (plus it works for Mac).

    At first it was utterly confusing, but after an hour or so I was able to start writing music on it. I chose a very simple system to practice on (NES) and started figuring out how to navigate through the vertical, pre-DAW interface. The biggest hurdle is sorting out tempo and time signatures. Since it is Base 16 and the tempo is derived from the clock frequency of the system you are using, it takes a lot of experimentation to get the precise feel and level of swing down.

    Starting with the most simple waveform available, a pulse wave, you can set up a number of Ďinstrumentsí. An Instrument is actually just an arpeggiator and amplitude envelope that your draw by hand. You can assign any individual note to any Instrument, which is how you can add expression from short to longer (or sliding) notes.

    Each track can then have a certain number of Ďeffectsí added like panning, overall volume, and start/stop codas. These are input by hexadecimal code, of course.

    TL;DR
    If you already have an understanding of synthesis and music production it will not take long to figure out how a tracker works and the results are surprisingly accurate! I definitely recommend trying a chiptarcker out for authentic 8-bit music reproduction.
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    High Voltologist Wattage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Letís talk about writing Chiptune and 8-bit music!

    My buddy’s band does this in a big way

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    Darkness on the edge of Tone TwilightOdyssey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Letís talk about writing Chiptune and 8-bit music!

    Oh, really? What's their name? I would love to check it out!!
    Why don't you take your little Cobra Kais and get outta here?!
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    High Voltologist Wattage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Letís talk about writing Chiptune and 8-bit music!


  5. #5
    Darkness on the edge of Tone TwilightOdyssey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Letís talk about writing Chiptune and 8-bit music!

    Thanks.
    Why don't you take your little Cobra Kais and get outta here?!
    My collaborative PROGRESSIVE ROCK PROJECT, As Follows.
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