You're welcome. Read the rest
You're welcome. Read the rest
Doctor Popular writes, "My new album, Destroy All Presets, was created using the Nanoloop cartidge on a GameBoy Advance. I decided to do it that way partially because I love working with limitations and partially because I love the sounds you can get off of these old devices. To help promote it's release, I'm producing a small run of Nanoloop cartridges that come preloaded with my instrumental tracks on them." Read the rest
Thomas Gilmore offers a brief history of chipmusic, whose practitioners "make complex music in a minimal way."
The more popular tools of the chipmusic (or chiptune, or 8bit) trade were made from the early '80s to the early '90s, when the most efficient way to add sound to a video game or computing experience was with a sound chip. These sound chips are limited, there are no two ways about that. Usually they're restricted to a small number of voices (sounds that can be played at once) and the palette of sounds themselves are set to a handful of presets that the chip is capable of creating. As a result of these limitations, the sounds created by these electronic devices are unmistakably distinctive.
What I love about it is the reminder that it isn't a new thing: music was always written for these devices, and many of them came with consumer-friendly composition software from the outset.
One thing about this history that's not quite right—and many of us in geeky indiedom make the same mistake—is in believing that this stuff is only just "starting to change what is happening on the surface of popular music."
On the contrary, this stuff has been mainstream for a good decade now, and the interesting thing is that all these pixels and bleeps are not just another passing fad. The undercurrents of dependence between nostalgia, avant-garde and mainstream culture obscure the way they've become weirdly, persistently invisible to one another. Derrida probably coined a word for this sort of thing 30 years ago, but I can't hear you looking it up because I'm listening to pseudo-orchestral dance arrangements of classic arcade chiptunes. Read the rest
In practice, none of this matters. If you're borrowing inspiration from any copyrighted material, even if it seems clear to you that your use is transformational, you're in danger. If your use is commercial and/or potentially objectionable, seek permission (though there's no guarantee it'll be granted) or be prepared to defend yourself in court.Read the rest
Anyone can file a lawsuit and the costs of defending yourself against a claim are high, regardless of how strong your case is. Combined with vague standards, the result is a chilling effect for every independent artist hoping to build upon or reference copyrighted works.
We love chiptunes, the quirky celebration of 8-bit-style music that's become a a vibrant genre of its own with a thriving scene supporting it. The compositions evoke a time when electronic musicians had to make the most of the limited resources offered by primitive computing technology. Keeping that fire alive, the latest compositions are like the soundtracks to vintage videogames that never existed.
As teased last week, we're joining with Safari Books Online, the massive online library of technical know-how, to honor the mighty chip in the form of a Game Dev Challenge. Your task is to make real the imaginary games embodied by chiptunes. For inspiration or technical insight, Safari Books Online is offering Boing Boing readers 30 days free access to five videogame-related books from the library.
Jeffrey Lim's Impulse Tracker, a freeware DOS app popular among chiptune makers in the late 1990s.Photo: Dave "SMOKEHARD" MatttSine waves, square waves, sawtooth and triangle; white noise for a drumkit, and a cathode ray tube for a stage. Being geeky, I was into computer-generated music as a youngster, long before I caught up with pop music. In an age before cheap internet access, however, there weren't many folks to share it with. So it's with not a little jealously to see today's chiptune scene, fed as much by fresh, unhinged creativity as the nostalgia it often evokes in listeners. One epicenter of all this is 8-Bit Collective, where dozens of new tracks are uploaded daily, sourced from an army of thousands of registered users. Founded by Jose Torres and George Michael Brower, it describes itself as the first file-sharing community dedicated to chiptunes. "Pure malleability," Brower said, describing the essential qualities of computer-generated music. "I'm put off by anyone who refers to chiptune as a 'genre' because of the diversity you'll find under that umbrella." Read the rest