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.
It was hip to be square, even in 1986. Especially in 1986. Jma Mitch writes: As a teenager in 1985 and 1986, I used my trusty Commodore 64 and the “Music Construction Set” program to create computer versions of a slew of songs by the greatest musical artist of all time: Huey Lewis and The […]
“Justify My Love” is a 1990 trip-hop tune by Lenny Kravitz and Ingrid Chavez with spoken vocals by Madonna and soulful humming and moaning by Kravitz. Someone mixed a version of the track sans Madonna and with Kravitz’s backing vocals brought to the forefront. The above sounds like a compelling piece of “outsider pop,” as […]
In this video, Claude Debussy’s Clair de Line is presented on a modular synthesizer. The accompanying Haiku says all: from the modular, a landscape a wee sterile, just a reflection ~ The performer is ann annie, who can be found on Instagram and Bandcamp. There are only a few other recordings on YouTube, but they’re […]
If you remember your Norse mythology (or just watched Marvel’s Thor movies), you’re probably familiar with Heimdal, the god whose ever-watchful eye was entrusted with protecting the home of the gods in Asgard. Back on Earth, Heimdal Thor is also the name of a security package from Heimdal Security, that’s actually dedicated to much the […]
Everyone’s got their nose in a phone these days, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon. With the increase in mobile device and e-commerce reliance comes increased need for developers who can build the apps we’re all so glued to. In fact, employment of devs is expected to grow up to […]
Whether you love cooking at home or you swore this was going to be the year you curbed your DoorDash addiction, you know you can’t get the job done well without the proper tools on hand. For all your recipe and meal prep needs, this 3-piece Sukasu Osami Chef’s Knife set will do you right […]