Join 3,513 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


We Built This City On Rock And ROM
January 23, 2014 6:29 PM   Subscribe

8 Bit Renditions: hear the classics as if they were composed for the NES!
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Fly Like An Eagle
We Built This City

Are We The Waiting / St. Jimmy
Sweet Transvestite
Somebody To Love

and more...
posted by the man of twists and turns (40 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
My productivity over the next couple of days hates you with a white hot 8-bit fury.
posted by Sphinx at 6:40 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


R.E.M. - Superman (8-Bit) is... not terrible. I'm pretty sure my 6-y.-o. will treat it as karaoke.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:52 PM on January 23


Pixies - "Where Is My Mind?"
La Roux - "Bulletproof"
XTC - "Mayor of Simpleton"
posted by Redfield at 7:01 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Is there a way to create 8-bit or 16-bit music easily without hacking your GBA or SNES or anything? I have been playing through Earthbound and Mother 3 lately and I am in love with the compositions in each of them.
posted by gucci mane at 7:13 PM on January 23


oops, the fly like an eagle link actually points to while my guitar gently weeps . . .
posted by gorbichov at 7:15 PM on January 23


megaman busts into the lab and is all like 'now to face robo-justice dr wily' and hes all like 'no time to lay down some sweet trax' and megaman is like sweet and then pikachu shows up and they dance a little too close to dj wily's sweet 8bit trax and maybe some stuff happens and they have a babby named brendan and that babby grows up to be me and so as you can see thats why you now have to listen to three hours of green day 8bit trax because it is in my nature also you are tied ups
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:17 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Is there a way to create 8-bit or 16-bit music easily without hacking your GBA or SNES or anything?
There are some free editors and tutorials online, yes.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:20 PM on January 23


La Roux - "Bulletproof"

An 8 bit version seems redundant.
posted by weston at 7:20 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


"American Woman," just wow. Wow.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:21 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


Two of my favourites by Metafilter's own Virt:

Michael Jackson - Thriller
Jamiroquai - Love Foolosophy
posted by ordinary_magnet at 7:23 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


(oops, only viewed the videos using the 'play video' link, and missed that all of these are by the same artist. Hopefully you enjoy those virt tunes as an aside to the main topic)
posted by ordinary_magnet at 7:25 PM on January 23


Pretty sure it's been linked here before, but here's Super Morrissey Brothers.
posted by gimonca at 7:30 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Older versions of garage band and magical 8 bit plug make for a really easy way of doing this if you have a good ear. And patience.

I've thrown a couple on soundcloud. Like Reflektor - or an attempt, at least. Not my best.
posted by MysticMCJ at 7:36 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Yes - Roundabout is pretty ambitious for an 8-bit rendition, but some JoJo's fan pulled it off.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 7:42 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Just want to point out that the music in the FPP is not actually 8-Bit (from the author: "if you wanna get technical, it's not really 8-Bit, since it uses more then 4 channels"). Still cool, though!
posted by 3FLryan at 7:55 PM on January 23


I thought I was hearing at least 9 or 10 bits.
posted by Flashman at 7:58 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


For 8-bit music that doesn't sound too much like 8-bit music: Rescue: The Embassy Mission.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:58 PM on January 23


I thought I was hearing at least 9 or 10 bits.

Sadly... some of us can...
posted by 3FLryan at 8:03 PM on January 23


This thread is woefully incomplete without Brad Smith's Moon 8 - The Dark Side of the Moon for the NES. If I ever got the opportunity to fry again, I'd be sorely tempted to do it to this.
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 8:07 PM on January 23


The Smiths How Soon Is Now 8 bit Mobile
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:14 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Kind of Bloop
posted by Winnemac at 8:24 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


So the word quantization in digital music is used to describe two things (at least)- (1) aligning pitches and rhythms to be perfectly in-tune and on the beat and (2) the resolution of the amplitude of an audio sample in the analog-digital conversion process. In the 2nd case, lower bit depths (like 8-bit rather than the norm of 16-bit) cause noise or hiss in the resulting audio.

All that is just to say - holy quantization, in every sense! My favorite parts of these, i must admit, are when something in the music (like guitar bending or vibrato) doesn't quantize neatly - as in master of puppets during the guitar solo at 4:04.

BTW I think what really gives 8-bit its sound is the limited character of the wavetables more than the bit depth, as 8-bit versions of regular audio files sound normal with added background noise until you get closer to the 3-4 bit range.* At 1 bit you'll hear a raw square wave that goes silent as soon as the incoming amplitude is below the level assigned to the '1' of the bit.

*As an example here is a guitar played through a bit reducer - notice the introduction of background noise and then the abrupt switch to a fuzz distortion sound. That switch happens around 3-4 bits.
posted by ianhattwick at 8:27 PM on January 23


It's a little early for this, but The 8bits of Christmas annoys my family and friends to no end each holiday season.

(Also, I agree with ianhattwick, it's mostly about the complexity you can muster with the memory available. Atari 2600 didn't even have enough timer resolution to make notes on-pitch. Though if you have a dedicated 8-bit sound CPU like Robotron you can make really cool sounds)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:32 PM on January 23


Is there a way to create 8-bit or 16-bit music easily without hacking your GBA or SNES or anything? I have been playing through Earthbound and Mother 3 lately and I am in love with the compositions in each of them.

Software for these kinds of purposes are generally called "trackers", so doing a search for that should yield you something. Some trackers let you import your own samples so you could probably dump the instrument samples from an NSF or SPC (Nintendo and Super Nintendo audio formats, respectively -- for SNES games you'd have to find what game has the kind of sound you like (Final Fantasy VI uses different instrument samples than Shin Megami Tensei or Earthbound)). There are dozens for trackers that emulate the NES sound, and there's at least one that emulates the YM2612 chip (Sega Genesis). I'm pretty sure you could also rip the samples from the Mother 3 set, as well, if you wanted that sound specifically.

They can be kind of awkward to use, though, and they like to be difficult when it comes to recognizing your MIDI controllers.
posted by Redfield at 8:41 PM on January 23


Another option is a program that takes VSF (is that right?) plugins such as Fruityloops. There are dozens of chiptune plugins. I recall a popular Japanese chiptune band (YMCK, I believe) made one that emulated the NES sound. I wasn't a big fan of that one, though.

(I'd provide links to all this stuff if I were on my desktop).
posted by Redfield at 8:48 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Indeed, 8-bit only refers to the fact that the music is composed like it would have been on an 8 bit console, using the very limited capacity of the console's sound chip/circuit. In the case of the NES, the processor used had a sound generator onboard. It could produce two channel of rectangle/square waves, one channel of triangle wave, one channel of noise and one channel of PCM audio. So 5 sounds at the same time, maximum. The rectangle waves have a lot of harmonics and are usually used for the melody. The triangular wave is closer to a pure sine and usually serves for bass. Noise gives you your basic percussion, and PCM allows you to play crude digital samples.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:51 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I thought Crazy On You held up very well.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:43 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


For me, this is still the gold standard of 8-bit '80s cover albums: My Fiero by Mesu Kasumai

(This link provides a key to which of the cleverly-retitled songs are which if you don't recognize them right away)
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:20 AM on January 24


The version of while my guitar gently weeps is very thoughtfully done. It surprised me how well it works.
posted by umbĂș at 6:34 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


The version of while my guitar gently weeps is very thoughtfully done. It surprised me how well it works.

It really does. It also makes me think it would make totally sweet music playing over credits rolling over a sunset or something.
posted by dismas at 7:27 AM on January 24


Thanks for the productivity booster, it's great music to code to.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:43 AM on January 24


[tangent] Certain Famicom carts had the VRC6 chip, which allowed for more channels. This is why Castlevania III sounds different between the Japanese and American releases. You can do a comparison yourself here.

There's a Youtube artist Dannooct1 who uses Famitracker and produces great stuff. I wish I had the patience and skill to be able to pump out this kind of music :)

RedField was referring to this plugin, which I've tried using but didn't like because it made my mac's audio pop audibly.
posted by jangie at 8:51 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I listened to 'Freddie Freeloader" from Kind of Bloop, and it feels like I grew a second brain. The guy basically nailed all the solos, and then started with the freakout stuff.
posted by thelonius at 8:55 AM on January 24


Those who enjoy this will also enjoy Moog Cookbook.

A few gems:
More than a Feeling
Black Hole Sun
Buddy Holly
posted by kakarott999 at 9:18 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


If you're interested in original works, there are tons of chiptune artists on Bandcamp with free or reasonably priced albums.

These compilations have some excellent chiptune music.
posted by Gev at 9:46 AM on January 24


Still my favorite, because it sounds like it was written to be a chiptune:

Talking Heads - "This Must Be The Place"
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:04 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


A good chiptune artist that has been around forever is maktone. Lots of hyperactive arpeggios.

Also worth looking into is HOOT, which is a program that plays music from a bunch of old (198xs) Japanese computer games. Here's a good mirror in plain directory format for easier downloading (my favorite PC-x8 soundtrack is definitely Duel). Discover the weird, wild, and wonderful world of erotic game music. You'll be occupied for months, and it's a great way to hear super old tracks from popular Japanese video game composers.
posted by Redfield at 11:36 AM on January 24


Yes - Roundabout yt is pretty ambitious for an 8-bit rendition, but some JoJo's fan pulled it off.

The odd thing is that the "In and around the lake" bit sounds exactly like a 1989 video game. This makes me wonder what the Game Boy/Sega/Atari composers actually were trying to do, and what the music would have sounded like if recorded for real. And although I can take or leave Yes, the image of Rick Wakeman hunched over a $79 Casio with about 28 little plastic keys is a compelling one.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:11 PM on January 24


Oh man, throw another set of files on the remix pile...
posted by NiceKitty at 2:13 AM on January 25


This is one of my favorites.
Stairway to Heaven NES
posted by Gadgetenvy at 8:57 PM on January 25


« Older How much My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan c...  |  Marc Anderson, the winner of t... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments