September 4, 2011 2:11 PM   Subscribe

8bitpeoples is an artist collective focusing on the sounds and images that came with early computing and video gaming, specifically chiptunes, or music made either with actual vintage hardware (like using a GameBoy and LSDJ) or with software emulators.

All(most all) music released on the site is free to download, and many of the artists (such as Bit Shifter and Anamanaguchi) have larger libraries for you to track down. Torrents float around with a mostly-up-to-date collection of the files and somewhat-questionable tagging, or you can simply download each album individually by song or in a zip file.

There's no way to link to individual albums but if you'd like a place to start, hit the discography page and set the view to ALL, then search for these (artist / album + a sample youtube link from one track on the album):

Bit Shifter / Information Chase

Anamanaguchi / Power Supply


Starscream / Future, and it Doesn't Work (and bonus Bit Shifter cover of the title track)

Saskrotch / I'll Have You Naked by the End of This ROM

Animal Style / TRENCHVENT

virt / FX3

If you'd like to know more about making your own chiptunes, check out the external links at the bottom of the Wikipedia article on the subject. And there's always chiptune.com if you'd like to explore another site.
posted by curious nu (27 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
8bitpeoples has been mentioned previously in passing but the library is large and it seemed worthwhile to make a post dedicated to it, so hopefully this can avoid the dreaded "double" flag. Also, a lot of the chiptune posts seem to be focused on "covers" of modern pop songs; these are (never?) actual chiptunes, just midi files with a chip-y instrumentation set.
posted by curious nu at 2:13 PM on September 4, 2011

that should've been "never(?)". BLEEP.
posted by curious nu at 2:14 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

It doesn't seem to literally be chiptunes (although maybe), but it's listed that way and I'm listening to it right now and it's one of my favorite albums: I, Cactus
posted by DU at 2:20 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I, Cactus is great, he also goes by Grandma and Khonner. It's not literally chiptunes, though he uses those sounds wherever he likes.

I have been loving the Cave Story soundtrack recently, and that Bit Floyd jawn too.

This is also hot.

But my favorite is Rugar. His compositions have the same feel as classic NES game soundtracks, but are so advanced and elegant he's in a league of his own.
posted by chronkite at 2:39 PM on September 4, 2011

Good post. What makes something an "actual" chiptune? (Produced with actual hardware?) I usually find myself wishing more of them had vocals.
posted by knave at 2:39 PM on September 4, 2011

Ooooh... tried out one of the emulators and I'm really digging it (the magical 8 bit one)...

If you want some decent 8 bit vsts, check out Tweakbench's Triforce, peach, and toad.
posted by drezdn at 2:42 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you like 8bit music and you like The Protomen, then you'll love Makeup And Vanity Set's 8bit cover of The Protomen's entire first album. You can find all the songs on Youtube, here are the first three: Hope Rides Stallone, Powerfuneralz!1! and Unrest In the House of Bits.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:55 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Leeni has been doing some nice, if rather twee, vocal+chiptune-ish stuff.
posted by griphus at 3:10 PM on September 4, 2011

anamanaguchi :D
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:10 PM on September 4, 2011

If you want some decent 8 bit vsts, check out Tweakbench's Triforce, peach, and toad.

Peach is the jammm, and their Tapeworm mellotron plugin is kind of a secret weapon, too. Happy to see Tweakbench get some love here.

Also: Treewave. Nifty post. Thanks.
posted by mintcake! at 3:18 PM on September 4, 2011

Pretty prominent on the discography page, I strongly recommend L 012 by Kplecraft. Wonderful chippy sound with some background brass instruments. One of my favorites. Many other wonderful albums can be found scrolling through reddit's chiptunes community, here. Chiptunes have a really wonderful, supportive community in my experience - and the music is generally so lighthearted and uplifting!
posted by Buckt at 3:54 PM on September 4, 2011

The 8bitpeoples Christmas album has become a holiday tradition around here. Even my s/o has transitioned from annoyance to nostalgia when it comes up.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:56 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to destroy a Commodore 64 to extract its SID chip, there's a passable emulation of it which uses only 1 or 2 of the Parallax Propeller's 8 "cog" cores.
posted by localroger at 4:06 PM on September 4, 2011

Awesome post.

I've been trying to put together a weird 8-bit/experimental DJ set off and on for a while now. I'm not looking necessarily for true chiptunes/game music stuff, but the weirder, noisier, more ambient and more modern dance/techno stuff, as well as experimental and noise. (And doesn't have to be strictly 8-bit/chiptune, but has that grainy-acidy FM synth sound.

I really like stuff that has that huge chiptune bass, and dislike more shrill "game music" type stuff - but I like both manic/high energy and chill as long as it doesn't actually sound like the music from Double Dragon or Streetfighter or something.

Stuff like: Simply Tangible, Role Model, Goto80, Mikrosopht, Seedy, 8 Bit Rockers, Nullsleep, Twilight Electric.

Any suggestions welcomed.
posted by loquacious at 5:01 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Let's not forget Mefi's own Jake Kaufman.
posted by ersatz at 5:41 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

CSG6581 FTW.
posted by eriko at 5:47 PM on September 4, 2011

Anamanaguchi did the soundtrack for the Scott Pilgrim game. So happy-making.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:24 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Had no idea 8bitpeoples was still around. nullsleep is freaking great.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:52 PM on September 4, 2011

Also, Mesu Kasumai's "My Fiero" was rad.

This reminds me of the idm/8bit labels from the aughts. Particularly Monotonik and one of the greatest goddamned things in the whole world: Crashed by Car. I have a playlist called Brandon Reid Huey that includes his Crashed By Car, Jenglander, and Red Lines stuff. I wish I knew if he was making more music.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:02 PM on September 4, 2011

Also, Crashed by Car's 8-bit EP (spoiler: not 8-bit even though it was released by 8bitrecs) and Low Light Rewinder, because, seriously, this shit is gorgeous. I'm done now. Sorry. Got a little excited.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:21 PM on September 4, 2011

loquacious: i've been bumping gigandect a lot recently
posted by p3on at 9:36 PM on September 4, 2011

I can't think 8 bit music without thinking of Jake's (Mefi's Own as previously noted) awesomely titled Dracule Man X2 Alpha Turbo
posted by Admira at 10:50 PM on September 4, 2011

I used to volunteer at BlipFest and it was, by far, my favorite place to people watch. I'm sure it happens at every concert but I loved watching the 1-3 guys who didn't give a shit and danced their ass off while they were surrounded by the crowd drinking beers and doing the nod.
posted by spec80 at 1:03 AM on September 5, 2011

I can't believe this is not a double. I saw it and was like "wuh?" But yes, 8bp is ridiculously good. I didn't want to hijack the post since I'm kind of already in it, but I'm like a moth to a flame with this stuff.

To (maybe unsatisfactorily) answer your question, knave, the definition of a "real" chiptune varies, depending on whom you ask. To some people, it is a song made in a mod tracker using between 0 and n voices, with single-cycle (square wave, saw wave, etc) waveforms as opposed to more realistic instrument samples -- the "chip" describes the actual sound samples, not the overall composition. To other people, it is a song made on actual hardware (or an emulation thereof) with new tools specifically developed for the hobby. The more oldschool "demo scene" guys tend to favor the former definition.

If you want my opinion (I am "virt / FX3" in curious nu's original list up there, so my opinion may or may not be worth the pixels it's printed on), a "real chiptune" is any piece of music composed specifically to be performed by single-cycle waveforms, whether it falls under either of the definitions above.

A "fake chiptune", to me, is when some dude runs a MIDI cover of a pop song through a "chiptune-o-matic" synthesizer or VSTi, paying no mind to the arrangement or technique, just replacing the original instruments in the MIDI file with square waves, maybe throwing in a mario coin sound just in case you forgot you're listening to an "8-bit version" of something. It's like taking a photograph with a regular camera, jacking up the contrast in Photoshop, and calling it HDR. And then throwing a lens flare on it.

So, as long as your heart is in it, and you're having fun overcoming artificial limitations, it doesn't matter whether you're using a NES, a Game Boy, a C64, Modplug Tracker, Propellerhead Reason, Logic with VSTs, or a Moog and a reel-to-reel. If you're crafting music out of raw pulse waves and random noise, you're making chiptunes, and you should share your stuff so we can all rock out to it.

Because I've never seen them linked here, my favorite chip labels are Pause and Ubiktune. Guys like Disasterpeace, Starpause, Joshua Morse, Alex Mauer, Blitz Lunar, Zinger, Zabutom, Coda, and Surasshu -- googling any of these names (or searching for them on 8bitcollective) will result in hours of listening fun. Full disclosure: I've released stuff through Ubiktune, but the other guys there are absolutely phenomenal.

If you'd like to try your hand at writing a chiptune, check out the free and amazing FamiTracker. It's what I use these days, and it's basically a MOD tracker specifically tailored for writing authentic Nintendo music. I would be glad to answer any questions you have about it (Memail!) but the official community forums are a great place to get started. The exported data will actually run on a real NES, but without all the hassle of composing in a text editor. It even supports all the arcane expansion chips, only used in Japanese Famicom games, which add extra voices and synthesis types. It's the most fun you can possibly have with a spreadsheet!
posted by jake at 1:14 AM on September 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Spec80, did you see the TETRIS BLOCK guy? I think he was there in '07, dressed as a huge Tetris L-block. Watching him attempt to crowd-surf (and then fall) was surreal. The same guy came back to an open-mic night at a Pulsewave show, and blew us all away with a 15-minute LSDJ cover of Take On Me. We're all like "DUDE IT'S THE FUCKIN' TETRIS BLOCK!"
posted by jake at 1:16 AM on September 5, 2011

jake: thanks for the additional info! I don't know enough about the scene or musicians out there to make a solid general-chiptunes post so anything you have is great. (And I always forget about 8bitcollective, for some reason)
posted by curious nu at 7:09 AM on September 5, 2011

I do remember that guy! I am very sad to say that I did not see him crowd-surf. I remember him doing some b-boy moves. I gotta say that was one sturdy costume. And that's awesome! I wish I could have seen that performance.
posted by spec80 at 6:29 PM on September 5, 2011

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