Worth the wait.
June 15, 2009 12:36 PM   Subscribe

It's the mid 1980's, computer games are stored on cassette tapes and they take a very long time to load. This lead to the creation of loading music.

The idea behind loading music is to keep the user entertained for the five or so minutes that the computer takes to load the game. Two names which stick out when one looks for Commodore 64 music include Rob Hubbard (Interview), and Martin Galway (Interview)

Besides the music for Robocop, Galaway's highlights include:
Slap Fight
Instant Remedy

The budding music genre at the time was also not immune to the occasional remix (done by Peter Clarke)

Other highlights:
Sanxion By Rob Hubbard
Power Drift by Dave Lowe

(Also previously)
(You guys seem to like this old computer, don't you?)
posted by hellojed (31 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
hellojed: "You guys seem to like this old computer, don't you?"

I was also impressed to learn that it broadened the PC market more than any other computer.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:53 PM on June 15, 2009

Loading music? Why spoil the pleasure?

This is like whale song to me.
posted by run"monty at 12:57 PM on June 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

run"monty: "This is like whale song to me."

I always find Dot Matrix printers to be soothing.
posted by boo_radley at 1:05 PM on June 15, 2009

Tangentially related: the ultimate use for your C64: "Eating a sandwich."
posted by boo_radley at 1:07 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I watched one for a while, then I realized I wasn't waiting for anything so I turned it off again. Maybe later, if I need to soft boil an egg.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:09 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

My favorite loaders from my c64 times are probably Last Ninja by Ben Daglish and Skate or Die by Rob Hubbard. Still listen to the Last Ninja music from time to time
posted by rpn at 1:12 PM on June 15, 2009

I always find Dot Matrix printers to be soothing.

I know what you mean.
posted by run"monty at 1:14 PM on June 15, 2009

I used to load Skate Or Die just to listen to the music. That tune blew my 14 year old mind.
posted by CaseyB at 1:14 PM on June 15, 2009

Is this like when you flip toggle switches on the front of your PDP-8 to enter the tape loading program using the "shave and a haircut, two bits" rhythm?
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:20 PM on June 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

It wasn't exactly loading music, but the theme from M.U.L.E. sticks in my mind to this day.


*doo! doo-doo DOOOOO, doodeeloodeeloodee doo! do-do DOOOOOO!*
posted by hippybear at 1:23 PM on June 15, 2009 [4 favorites]

The ZX Spectrum had its very own style of loading music.
posted by Electric Dragon at 1:32 PM on June 15, 2009

Electric Dragon: Oh, man. Oh dear. I just wet myself laughing. Thank you for that. The makers of my laundry detergent thank you, also.
posted by hippybear at 1:38 PM on June 15, 2009

Man, I love my old TI tape sound. Trying to emulate the sound via text, a la "ENNNNNHHHHH, Eh-UNNNGK Eh-UNNGK Ehhhhh UNNGH NNNNNGKH NNNGHK" makes me feel like I'm doing a script for a Don Martin article in MAD.
posted by notsnot at 1:39 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Parallax is so great. I used to crank it up and turn out the lights.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:39 PM on June 15, 2009

It's interesting to note, back in the day when computer programs were stored on tape, radio stations in (then) West Germany would broadcast programs over the air for listeners to tape and use in their computers.
posted by hippybear at 1:42 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Aahhh... those early, heady days of 8-bit Microcomputers. Back then you could really come to grok it all to the bare metal. Most will consider them primitive and useless... but these old systems started is all. Commodores and Spectrums, Apples and Osbornes.

It was a golden age.

I too, miss the siren song of Dot Matrix printers... generating reports and other miscellany.

Of datasettes and 5141s.

I'm just another 8-bit Boy.

Yo. MOS 6510 4 Lyfe, Yo.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 1:45 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

hippybear: don't knock it, man. (I speak as a proud former owner of both a Spectrum and a Spectrum +3, complete with 3" [sic] disk drive.) The Spectrum was very big over here during the 80s and those sounds are bound to induce nostalgia in those of us who had to put up with its cheap rubber membrane keyboard.
posted by Electric Dragon at 1:47 PM on June 15, 2009

This is like whale song to me.

Tape Load Error
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:49 PM on June 15, 2009

Electric Dragon: I wasn't knocking it as a concept. I had a friend with a Sinclair, and others with TRS80s, and don't find it alienating or even non-inspiring in some odd retro way at all. I'm just laughing at the "loading music" comparison. It tickled me, in a good way.
posted by hippybear at 1:51 PM on June 15, 2009

I met Galway a few years back at a Back In Time event in Soho, where Press Play On Tape were playing. The night started late, and the bouncers had kicked Jeff Minter out from the queue as they assumed he was some kind of hobo, and no-one was there to endorse his significance as they had gone hunting drinks elsewhere.

Galway was a very nice man. He knew you all pirated his games.
posted by davemee at 2:09 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is absolutely wonderful. Sometimes the best stuff is made because of limits like this.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 2:12 PM on June 15, 2009

Also, don't forget the mix-e-load, where you could remix the loading music as the game loaded to ram. Ideal for DJs with short (or long, depending on the title) attention span.
posted by davemee at 2:14 PM on June 15, 2009

I remember the M.U.L.E. theme! What an earworm.

Tangentially related: The C64 1541 5.25" drive head made a variety of unusual humming noises when it read, wrote or moved across a floppy disk. I used to have a demo program which took advantage of this, and moved the drive heads in a precise pattern to generate "Daisy Bell". You can hear it here.
posted by zarq at 2:51 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I recall that my Atari 800 had a cassette-based game that, in the channel not used by data, had a professional voice introduce you to the game followed by the many minutes of guitar music required to load. It was awesome.
posted by jscott at 2:52 PM on June 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

All these posts about Martin Galway, and no-one has mentioned the (awesome) music for Comic Bakery?
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:13 PM on June 15, 2009

The audio is a bit quiet on this example, so crank it up and enjoy the intro to ACE 2, a great two player fighter jet dog fighter.
posted by furtive at 4:35 PM on June 15, 2009

Let us not forget all the awesome Accolade intros:

Grand Prix Circuit
Test Drive II: The Duel


North East Crackers Intro I

And although completely different than regular Tetris music, check out this amazing Commodore 64 Tetris Track.

Oh, check out this suped up fan version to Zak McKracken & the Alien Mind Benders

I could go on...
posted by furtive at 4:48 PM on June 15, 2009

The Card Cheat, damn I didn't know that song was from Comic Bakery, that track is epic!
posted by furtive at 5:13 PM on June 15, 2009

Why mess around with the loading music when you can just pop the program cassette directly into your cassette deck and listen to the bitstream? Mavis Beacon's Typing Tutor has some interesting middle passages.
posted by jfuller at 6:58 PM on June 15, 2009

I haven't heard or even thought about this stuff for over 20 years, then bam - a few beats and I'm humming along like I last heard it this morning. Thanks!

Whenever I see gang tattoos part of me thinks "Why did they choose the font from Whizball?"
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:19 PM on June 15, 2009

The C64 version of Ghostbusters had a sing-a-long version of the theme song, complete with lyrics and bouncing ball. It was pretty damn awesome, but I think it wasn't a diversionary tactic while loading. I think you had to load the entire thing up to hear the song (and presumably play the game afterwards.)
posted by Spatch at 5:45 AM on June 16, 2009

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