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C/NC: Video Game Music

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C/NC: Video Game Music

Crap
6
15%
Not Crap
19
48%
Too broad of a topic for me to vote
14
35%
I respect those that create it, but meh
1
3%
I loved Minibosses, The NESkimos, The Advantage, et al, but other than that, Crap
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 40

Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby madmanmunt on Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:19 pm

Hey, can any of you video game music scholars give a brief rundown of the development of the art from the 8-bit days to present? How as the technology advanced the music changed sort of thing?
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby Twilight Sparkle on Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:33 pm

The more technology advanced, the more the music became like everything.

The End.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby jimmy two hands on Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:42 pm

Metroid and Mega Man 1 through 3 had great great music. I am realizing now that it has influenced me a lot in my own musicality. I haven't played a video game made after about 1997 (and mostly the stuff I played in college we would turn the music off and play records instead) so I couldn't tell you what I think about any of the newer stuff. Not Crap for those I mentioned above.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby Anthony Flack on Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:33 pm

madmanmunt wrote:Hey, can any of you video game music scholars give a brief rundown of the development of the art from the 8-bit days to present? How as the technology advanced the music changed sort of thing?


Very briefly:

The early, primitive systems had, like, a clicker. That is, a speaker you could send a click to. 1 bit sound. This is what you get in early Spectrum/Apple II hardware. With very clever, high-speed manipulation of the clicker, you could ALMOST get it to sound sort-of musical. So if you sent a pulse to the speaker 440 times per second, you could make a square wave playing concert A. Some people did some (comparatively) impressive things with this; a few even got it to play a scratchy little sample loop, but Jesus Christ. At this point, just making something that could even qualify as "music" was considered an achievement.

Later 8-bit systems typically had 4-channel dedicated sound chips (often 3 channels plus a noise channel) which would handle a lot of the low-level stuff for you. This is when "video game music composer" started to become a thing that some people did for a living. A good video game music composer not only had to work with the limitation of 3 or 4 puny little synth channels, but also had to fit into the tiny amount of memory, and processing power, that wasn't already being used to run the game. Many of the good composers at this time also wrote their own player software and were very good at optimising code and data.

(Nb this is more true on the computer side, which is where the hobbyists were working - arcade games were all running their own custom hardware and often had their own dedicated CPUs for controlling the sound, and console games could pull music data straight off the cartridge, so storage wasn't such an issue. Certain console games also had an additional chips on the cartridge for processing music)

Most 8 bit machines used cheap, off-the-shelf sound chips like the AY-3-8912, but the Commodore 64 had its own unique custom sound chip, the SID, which had really nice filters. It's widely regarded as the best-sounding chip of the era and in recent years a lot of people have been tapping these chips and making synths with them.

Here's the SID chip filters in action:



Interestingly, the filters on the early SID chips actually varied quite a bit from chip to chip, so each one sounds a little different.

In the 16-bit era (Amiga etc), the computers became powerful enough to play high-resolution (though typically short) multi-channel samples in software, and everybody was using tracker software to write music. These were basically step sequencers, but the format had become somewhat standardized by this time and anybody with a tracker program could make their own. At the time it seemed like a huge leap forward, although a lot of that music just sounds like a bad midi keyboard these days.

Then the CD-ROMs arrived, and from that point onwards the music could sound like any recorded music.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby Twilight Sparkle on Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:43 pm

Anthony Flack is my favorite poster.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby robert thefamilyghost on Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:07 pm

I could listen to anything coming from an 8 bit chip.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby Twilight Sparkle on Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:53 pm

robert thefamilyghost wrote:I could listen to anything coming from an 8 bit chip.


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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby madmanmunt on Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:06 am

robert thefamilyghost wrote:I could listen to anything coming from an 8 bit chip.


Don't get it folks.

The 8-bit sound chip might the most inexpressive and limited music production device ever made by man. Hell, I'd rather take a harpsichord in one ear and bagpipes in the other.

Still, I'd kill to hear what Xenakis would have done with one.

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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby robert thefamilyghost on Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:49 am

Twilight Sparkle wrote:

Yes!!!
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby madmanmunt on Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:10 am

Oh yeah! I just knew someone would have done it.



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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby Twilight Sparkle on Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:28 am

I like that they put "drums" on it.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby robert thefamilyghost on Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:04 am

Twilight Sparkle wrote:I like that they put "drums" on it.

It makes it sound JUST LIKE an Aphex Twin song that I can't place right now... Or maybe it's Autechre (normally I don't find the two to sound very much alike at all, for some reason wires are crossing in my head for this song).
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby Colonel Panic on Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:21 am

MrFood wrote:All time classic;



Hell yeah, Ridge Racer was a great game with insane music.


Some funky noise from a C64:




Here's a less grungy-sounding fantasy soundtrack from roughly the same era:

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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby robert thefamilyghost on Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:54 am

Colonel Panic wrote:Some funky noise from a C64:


This is the most incredible gameplay I have ever witnessed!
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby Colonel Panic on Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:27 am

OrthodoxEaster wrote:
Colonel Panic wrote:Generally dismissing all "video game music" as garbage is really not so different from dismissing country music as "hick music," defaming jazz as "brothel music," and blues as "negro music." It's really even more closed-minded because "video game music" is far more varied than any single genre.

Well to me it's perfectly valid for someone to dismiss all country music, jazz, and blues as "crap." (For the record, this is not my personal position on said genres.) But it's a valid, albeit subjective value judgment, whereas the other descriptions you're throwing around ("hick," "brothel," "negro") are more like social signifiers--that could be construed as either positive or negative, depending on the person using or hearing them--that have nothing to do w/one's personal opinion of the actual music.

The idea of "video game music" is another such "social signifier." Someone who doesn't like video games and therefore has little firsthand experience of the range of music in them is just as likely to exhibit a closed-minded attitude as somebody back in the day with a moralistic attitude about brothels might be dismissive of jazz; or how somebody who dislikes the culture of dance clubs might not give a moment's consideration to any music with a heavy 120 bpm downbeat.

Dismissing "video game music" out of hand just because it's featured in video games is even more closed-minded though, because country, jazz and blues are all stylistic genres with easily definable characteristics which might not appeal to some. For example, some people might be bored by the sound of musicians improvising melodies, in which case it would be understandable to dislike jazz and blues. One might cringe at the sound of twangy, plucked stringed instruments, whiny steel guitars or "high lonesome" vocals, in which case country music would be distasteful. Some people might hate the sound of high-pitched, sustained singing with exaggerated vibrato, in which case it's understandable for them to hate opera.

But "video game music," like movie soundtrack music, is not a genre definable by any specific musical characteristics. Early video game music was indeed definable by certain sonic characteristics; since the 1990s when computers became equipped with audio playback capabilities, nearly all kinds of music have been featured in video games and nearly all of it is performed on traditional physical instruments and recorded in a real sound studio like any other music.

Do you get the distinction I'm making here, between actual content and sound characteristics of the music, as opposed to an objection based solely on context?

Most social groups consider it cool to be closed-minded about certain things, and the PRF is obviously no exception. I've found that the older I get, the more receptive I've become to different kinds of music and art. Of course anyone is entitled to their opinion and can hate any number of things for any number of subjective reasons, but by the same token it's not unreasonable to point out when they're being closed-minded and stodgy about something they apparently know very little about.

OrthodoxEaster wrote:I think we can both agree that the nature of the poll itself is flawed. I do not dispute that. I didn't even vote in it!

Nor did I. But it sure has spurred some lively discussion and some excellent music samples!

OrthodoxEaster wrote:At the same time, as Twilight Sparkle so eloquently pointed out elsewhere in this thread, one doesn't tend to become a connoisseur of things that one finds unappealing. Opera, for example, drives plenty of people up a wall at a superficial level. In most--not all, obviously--cases, it's not like they're gonna change their minds about it and suddenly embrace it just b/c they need to listen to more of it. It may click, but it probably won't.

For the record, I like opera just fine.

I'd think a community of musicians would be more apt to appreciate the merits of music than most people. That's the real value of a thread like this, the possibility of opening people's minds to an whole body of music created within a very specific context that many people are totally unaware of.

I enjoy some opera as well. The thing I find so ironic about the common impressions of opera is that the stories portrayed through most operas are every bit as violent and salacious as any popular movie or TV melodrama of today. It's like people who can't appreciate Shakespeare because of all that pesky language.

OrthodoxEaster wrote:Up above, you mention "gangster film music in a hip-hop style," "a grunge-metal piece that wouldn't sound out of place on any hard rock compilation from the mid-late '90s," "decent acid jazz," and "an LA gangster rap style piece that's at least comparable to anything by Dr. Dre, but achieves a strikingly familiar feel without relying on the use of samples of other popular music." Video game or not, absolutely NONE of this sounds stylistically or musically appetizing to me.

Here we are on a rock music message board and you're claiming a cultural superiority to popular music styles? Come on, dude. Drop the pretense.

OrthodoxEaster wrote:The fact that it's acting as background music, audio wallpaper, or a genre exercise further limits its appeal.

But it's not "background music, audio wallpaper, or a genre exercise." Those are theme pieces for the games, not background music. In GTA, the player decides their own background music by choosing from a selection of multiple virtual "radio stations" on the car stereo, or alternately by playing music off their own computer hard drive.

OrthodoxEaster wrote:...I don't feel particularly close-minded or demeaning voicing this opinion loudly and even a little obnoxiously for the sake of hyperbole or a laugh.

Of course you don't. Closed-minded attitudes seldom do acknowledge their own prejudice.

If you're going for a laugh, then you have some catching up to do if you want to compete with the likes of this:

    zom-zom wrote:Annoying, stupid bloop-bleep garbage that only appeals to the players of these time-wasting games.
Last edited by Colonel Panic on Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby Colonel Panic on Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:33 am

robert thefamilyghost wrote:
Colonel Panic wrote:Some funky noise from a C64:


This is the most incredible gameplay I have ever witnessed!

Yeah the game itself sucked, but the music was awesomely weird.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby zom-zom on Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:04 pm

bleep, bloop
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby Colonel Panic on Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:12 pm

zom-zom wrote:bleep, bloop

LOL!

It never gets old!

That should be your new catchphrase, Mr. Space-rocker.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby zom-zom on Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:17 pm

It pretty much is now.
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Re: C/NC: Video Game Music

Postby japmn on Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:38 pm

jimmy two hands wrote:Metroid and Mega Man 1 through 3 had great great music. I am realizing now that it has influenced me a lot in my own musicality.


Metroid music is a pretty big deal. It definitely shows up in music I play, especially keys.

One night I got drunk and learned the opening theme for Metroid on a keyboard through a fuzz.

https://soundcloud.com/japmn/metroid-intro

I love it.
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