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8-bit music
September 12, 2010 12:13 AM   Subscribe

Originally a product of the simple tone and noise generators (and limited processing power) that shipped with video consoles and early computers, the 8-bit music (more properly, chiptunes) scene is now quite a bit more diverse. It covers Lady Gaga, Metallica, and Elvis Presley. It releases albums. And yes, it rickrolls. (mostly MLYT)
posted by d. z. wang (26 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
[Previously]
posted by knave at 12:17 AM on September 12, 2010


Previously; also previously.
posted by lumensimus at 12:33 AM on September 12, 2010


Aww...poop.
posted by d. z. wang at 12:40 AM on September 12, 2010


Now even mainstream music is fully aware of the chiptune trend and happy to exploit it.
posted by knave at 12:43 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


That "Master of Puppets" cover (is that the right word?) is amazing. The chorus is damn near perfect! It made me want to play Heavy Barrel with the soundtrack swapped out for it instead.

So I found a YouTube video of Heavy Barrel (NES) gameplay, muted it, and played it alongside the Metallica cover. It was awesome.
posted by Mikey-San at 1:00 AM on September 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thank god we have the chiptune scene to make all those different songs sound kind of like the same thing!
posted by mightygodking at 1:08 AM on September 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


(You'll want to mute the Heavy Barrel audio for that link. He gets to the midboss right when the third movement starts! So good.)
posted by Mikey-San at 1:08 AM on September 12, 2010


Yeah, this has been around for a fair while now. I think the first I heard of chiptune was back in about 2004, where I went to a gig organised by the guys behind C64 Audio (I think), and I heard some SID chip stuff. The funny thing is, they were (and I guess still are) doing the complete opposite - updating C64 music using modern synths, and live instrumentation. The headliners that night were Press Play On Tape, which is the first and last time I've ever heard a pub-rock style band play the theme from Paperboy.

A year or two later I discovered DJ Scotch Egg and realised that writing new tunes on old equipment was more interesting than updating old ones on new.
posted by iivix at 3:09 AM on September 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


In 1986 I used an 8-bit (C-64 SID/SAM)- for my answering machine message.
Love the 8-bit sound. I should build an 8-bit guitar.
posted by MtDewd at 3:41 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank god we have the chiptune scene to make all those different songs sound kind of like the same thing!

I thought that's what Glee was for.
posted by kittyprecious at 4:55 AM on September 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


The 8 bit collective is a great site for this kind of thing.
posted by delmoi at 6:00 AM on September 12, 2010


Blatent self promotion time: Die for Dethklok.

Thank god we have the chiptune scene to make all those different songs sound kind of like the same thing!

To be fair, you can create a pretty diverse set of sounds from the sid and some of the more advanced chip platforms. I mean, I admit a lot of people _don't_, mind you, since pure chip is "in" right now, tho.

Also, of the fourty odd thousand songs in hvsc (mp3), only about 30% are covers, so you know, there's that.... but I understand covers are sexy for sites like the blue :).
posted by jaymzjulian at 6:21 AM on September 12, 2010


Also: BluREU contains a much cooler rickroll!

(also, related for australian mefites: syntax is the 8bit/16bit even that I am required by law to mention always... but also check out soundbytes)
posted by jaymzjulian at 6:24 AM on September 12, 2010


Speaking of memes, there's also Chiptune Trololo.
posted by bettafish at 7:14 AM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The documentary Reformat the Planet covers the chiptune scene in New York (particularly Blip Festival) and its followup Reformat the Planet 1.5 goes a little beyond that in discussing how chiptunes have evolved around the world.

During SXSW we went to DATAPOP 3.0, where there were a bunch of 8-bit musicians from all over the world performing. It's not all just novelty covers and throwback video game nostalgia, it's a genuine music scene and it's awesome. I have to give a shoutout to Je Deviens DJ en 3 Jours, who was freaking amazing there.
posted by malthas at 8:59 AM on September 12, 2010


Blatent self promotion time: Die for Dethklok .

Now that is the best YouTube cover of Thunderhorse I've seen. Bravo!
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:07 AM on September 12, 2010


I find many of the YouTube chiptune covers to be bland. They tend to be, more or less, a straight transcription of the notes to chiptune instruments. They end up sounding like generic MIDI instead of actual arrangements that make use of the chip's abilities and style.

I mean, compare those to some of the chip masters: Martin Galway, Jeroen Tel

Here's a good cover of Trapped by Colonel Abrams, covered by Neil Baldwin.
posted by Herschel at 9:13 AM on September 12, 2010


Mefite RobertFrost makes some lovely chiptunes tracks under the name Note!, as well.
posted by jrb223 at 9:38 AM on September 12, 2010


Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" sounds so 8-bit to begin with that the 8-bit version isn't much of a change, aside from replacing vocals with keyboards. Here's "Bad Romance" and "Paparazzi."
posted by John Cohen at 10:49 AM on September 12, 2010


I find many of the YouTube chiptune covers to be bland. They tend to be, more or less, a straight transcription of the notes to chiptune instruments. They end up sounding like generic MIDI instead of actual arrangements that make use of the chip's abilities and style.

Yes, that's it exactly. Especially when you think back to the original SID sound from a C64 - you only had three channels of sound, which by necessity lead to the interesting effects that you hear in those tunes (like the fast arpeggiated trills that fake up chords). The compositional tricks definitely add something beyond just the low-fi sound generation.
posted by iivix at 10:52 AM on September 12, 2010


You're doing it wrong.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:21 PM on September 12, 2010


I find many of the YouTube chiptune covers to be bland. They tend to be, more or less, a straight transcription of the notes to chiptune instruments. They end up sounding like generic MIDI instead of actual arrangements that make use of the chip's abilities and style.

Exactly this - but, to be fair, this falls under the "99% of anything on youtube is crap" more than anything. You could make the same critisism of youtube guitar covers, youtube karaoke, youtube piano covers, or pretty much anything related to youtube covers of any sort.

It doesn't help that a lot of youtube chip covers are generated from midi files and then fed into chip-alike-VSTs, too. I have nothing against the VSTs, btw - I've seen some guys to do some amazing things with them (only live... no youtube links sorry!) - but there does seem to be a higher level of.... musicianship?.... when you are no longer able to just take a midi file off the internets (or worse, mp3tomidi) and auto-chip it.
posted by jaymzjulian at 3:37 PM on September 12, 2010


8-bit DEATH METALLLLL!!!!!

You know you want it. You know you can't live without it. You know it's time has come, so what are you waiting for???

RARRRHHHHH!!!!!! RARR! RAR! RAH RAH RAH!!! RAH RARRR!!!!
posted by Skygazer at 3:55 PM on September 12, 2010


8-bit DEAHT METLA!! RRRKS SO HARD...I forgot the links!!

SLAYER-Angel of Death

Necrophagist - Fermented Offal Discharge ( I have no idea who they are..I just like that song title...)

More etc...
posted by Skygazer at 4:01 PM on September 12, 2010


C-64 4-evar! SID chip rules! Ring modulation FTW! Grah!
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here, have some Moldilox. Proof of the ongoing evolution of 8-bit. (In particular, that if you set a low-pass around 10kHz you can take that harsh edge off.)
posted by Twang at 3:46 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


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