I would like to start this article off with an apology. Longtime fans of the blog may know that, generally, if I’m writing a post-event retrospective (i.e. PAX East or MAGFest) I make it a point to not only cover the music but also the various games I played at the event – highlighting indie games is one of my favorite things to do, as it helps smaller devs get some much needed press. Unfortunately, due to my increased duties helping sling merch at Chipspace this year, I was unable to play any games at MAG, so this year’s review is limited to the chiptune showcases that I caught at both Chipspace & main stage. Which isn’t to say there’s not a lot to talk about, because holy balls, there were a lot of awesome showcases at both venues!
Hello beautiful people and thank you for reading Paul’s Tech Talk on The ChipWIN Blog! It’s been a while since I’d last whipped out a good ol’ techy article so I decided to make this one extra special. Today we’re going to delve into one of my all-time favourite aspects of chiptune production: Arpeggios!
Most of you probably know quite well what an arpeggio is, and why it’s widely used in Chiptune music. So in this article, I will try to dig a little deeper, examine closely how they work and what they can do, and experiment with some more advanced techniques to unleash their amazing potential.
Happy New Year ChipWINners! The artist that’s firing up my auditory nerves this month really needs no introduction. chibi-tech is a legend in the scene, and someone who’s work was instrumental in sinking Chiptune’s hooks into my heart. Her December release, ‘Psycho Somatic Generation’, was originally an exclusive Kickstarter stretch goal for Bitmap Books’ “NES/Famicom: a visual compendium” 2016 funding drive. Now its available for the whole world to hear, so hop past the fold to get a taste of how delicious these tunes are.
Straight away, it is self-evident that ‘Beyond Bounds‘ was the correct choice to open the album with. Soft, twinkling plucks combined with dreamily flavored square waves conjure a feeling of purposeful centering. A palpable feel of bringing one’s self to rest in light of excitement to come. That peacefulness gives way to a heart fire stoking breakaway mixing that uplifting wind with a crushing bassline and thick snares deeply reminiscent of the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s soundtrack. Together, their breakneck speed is given an surf twinge, spurring an exciting adventure feel. These two motifs juggle back and forth for the duration of the track, not only mixing well, but serving as palette cleansers for one another and preparing a listener for wonderful compositions to come.
‘Sapient Amphibians on ATVs‘ elicits a very interesting sort of nostalgia. That fondness for the past mixed with a healthy amount of bitter frustration. Battletoads’ Turbo Tunnel was singularly one of the most infuriating levels I threw myself against as a child, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling. However, the music kept pulling me back in for repeated high speed face splattering collisions with concrete walls. chibi-tech’s style and composition in this track ripped those memories up from the depths violently and wonderfully. The rapid clip to the drums, the jazzy bass tones, the bright and evenly paced melody mixes the obvious homage with chibi-tech’s own unique contributions into something so good that I almost want to play Battletoads again.
‘Smugface Mafia‘ is an excellent complete switch up of style, keeping that toe tapping pace alive, and adding an interesting Prohibition era flavor atop it. Fitting to the title, the track takes a turn for the nefarious, introducing minor chords, strained tones, and plenty of tension. These elements are mixed with enough contrasting lighthearted energy that an element of comedy pokes through in places. The strength of that light-hearted energy ebbs and flows throughout the track, leaving me wondering just how seriously one should take these self-satisfied ne’er do wells. Are they expert rum-runners who will sink you to the bottom of a river, or bumblers just barely staying out of the reach of Johnny Law? Either way, a good bit of music here.
As excellently chosen as its counterpart, ‘Return to Bounds‘ makes for a beautiful close to the album. Not just because it hearkens to the lovely closing of a hard-fought Metroid game, but because chibi-tech’s unique additions to that underlying theme leave a track that is as hopeful for the future as it is a closing to the past, especially when mixed with her signature pacing and crisply hitting instrumentation. This is just shy of five minutes that evokes a tinge of sadness that the album is over, but almost more-so encourages that the ending be accepted with energetic dance. By the end, the phrase ‘See you next mission’ can be seen in a much more eager light.
That’s just a handful of tracks from the album, and they’re all worth listening to. I’d highly suggest ‘Meta Within Meta‘, and ‘Young Crescent‘, as a couple honorable mentions. Regardless, I highly encourage anyone and everyone to pop on over to chibi-tech’s Bandcamp page and pick yourself up a copy of this album to enjoy extensively and repeatedly.
With that, I’m closing the Forge – so get out there, share the love, and enjoy yourselves some Chiptune!
Hello all and thank you for reading Paul’s Tech Talk on The ChipWIN Blog!
This article is the second part of an issue on the spicy topic of PSG Chip Overclocking. In the first part, we tackled the basic theory behind what overclocking could achieve on an NES when ticks sped up enough to reach into the audio range. Today, we’re going to try and be more specific, and try out some practical examples on Gameboy.
Hello beautiful people and thank you for reading Paul’s Tech Talk on The ChipWIN Blog!
Today we’re going to talk about a very special version of LSDJ, and a tracking method that cannot often be used on Gameboy, but flourishes on other platforms such as NES: ~ OVERCLOCKING ~ ♪♫
During the avalanche of updates that gave light to this column in the first place, the community was hard at work trying to sniff out bugs and offer feature suggestions of their own. Some were very daring, seemed almost impossible, but were still considered by Johan for integration. One of them was actually the notion of underclocking. Why make the gameboy even slower than it is, you will undoubtedly ask? Well there is one limitation of the Gameboy hardware that theoretically could have been overcome with this method: its note range.