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View Full Version : Software to compose Genesis-style chiptune music?! HELP!


jamesaslett1985
12-27-2009, 10:59 AM
Hi all!

I'm trying to find two things:

1. The best piece of software in order to compose chiptune music (I usually use Reason as I find it the easiest to actually compose with)

2. Ways to get Sega Genesis sound sets (VST or Reason Refills?)

I'm not limiting myself to just Genesis sounding stuff, I want to have a go at 8-bit stuff too.

What do you guys suggest I use?

Thanks and Happy Christmas!

Nase
12-27-2009, 11:31 AM
Genesis options:

TFM Music Maker
http://shiru.untergrund.net/software.shtml
I'm guessing that you're not too familiar with the concept of trackers, so be prepared for a steep learning curve. Sound wise, it's unmatched though, i think.
You can even find some presets ripped from Genesis games to get you started.
No sampling channel as of now though, so you can't reproduce the Sonic drum sound, for example. just pure synthesis.

VOPM
http://www.geocities.jp/sam_kb/VOPM/
a VST solution that is reasonably close. the interface is cryptic though. It doesn't model the Genesis soundchip, but one similar in architecture (bit more versatile)

If you're interested in the real deal, watch this blog:
http://little-scale.blogspot.com/
the guy has a midi interface for Genesis in the works.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hFf-_qi3aI


8bit-wise, famitracker all the way.
http://famitracker.shoodot.net/
very good tracker, pretty much anything you could do on a NES is possible with it.
There are loads of VST options, and they're ok, you can make chippy sounding stuff with them alright, but if you want to make true chiptunes, the chip's limitations are an integral part of that, and famitracker gives you those.
If you don't care about polyphony limit or the dpcm and triangle channels fighting for volume (with true emulation come the same technical challenges that the composers had to battle against back in the day), here's a VST list:

Magical 8bit Plug
http://www.ymck.net/english/download/index.html
YMvst(Atari ST)
http://www.preromanbritain.com/ymvst/
Tweakbench (don't like these much personally but they're popular)
http://www.tweakbench.com/triforce
Basic 64
http://www.delamancha.co.uk/basic.htm
this one's cool. it's just c64 inspired, but sounds good and is fun to tweak.

I'll stop now ^^

Dash Myoku
12-27-2009, 11:54 AM
GXSCC:
http://www.geocities.co.jp/SiliconValley-SanJose/8700/P/GXSCCB236/indexE.htm

If you can work with midi, all you have to do is drop the midi in this and booyah, 8-bit music. Fairly simple and easy to use. Just another option for ya.

lazygecko
12-27-2009, 12:30 PM
GXSCC has been the source of many youtube "8-bit remix" disappointments for me. People will just drop 16 polyphony channel MIDIs into it and think they've created genuine chiptunes. This is getting a bit off-topic though.

There is another option for making Genesis chiptunes. nineko developed a tool that lets you convert tracker modules to the Sonic 1 sound engine, which can then be played through a Sonic 1 ROM. A few of my works have been converted with it for use in a ROM hack:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZpkCQzotrs

The conversion isn't flawless though as AFAIK it doesn't convert data like pitch bends, vibrato and PSG volume. The Sonic 1 sound engine in itself also doesn't support all the available PSG channels, from what I've been told.
I don't know where to get the program, you'd have to ask the author of the youtube video.

Dash Myoku
12-27-2009, 12:49 PM
GXSCC has been the source of many youtube "8-bit remix" disappointments for me. People will just drop 16 polyphony channel MIDIs into it and think they've created genuine chiptunes. This is getting a bit off-topic though.

Sorry, I should have specified...when I said "work with midi," I meant actually composing with midi...and then exporting and simply dropping your original composition or remix in GSXCC. That's how I use it, anyways. :D

Yoozer
12-27-2009, 07:02 PM
1. The best piece of software in order to compose chiptune music (I usually use Reason as I find it the easiest to actually compose with)

Trackers. They allow for some tricks you'd usually not come up with.

To take the NES tunes as an example:

- delay can be faked by repeating the same note in the track at a lower volume. Okay - so this isn't rocket science in most DAWs nowadays, but trackers make it really easy to copy the required control codes.
- reverb can be somewhat faked by suddenly switching the volume of the note down to 1/5th or so. This is harder, as most pure MIDI sequencers couldn't do this properly (velocity was an initial value)
- chorus is faked by using 2 tracks, where one track is slightly detuned

If you have Reason 4, Thor makes FM sounds; when emulating the Genesis, you need to know your FM synthesis well.

EC2151
12-27-2009, 07:13 PM
I was going to suggest TFM, but it seems the very first reply to this thread beat me to it.

It's the closest you'll sound to an old Genesis, I think.

I found out about it through these awesome Megaman 9 reduxes with Genesis sounds:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM74fwgl-eY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dgq0bEFAw1A

It's really cool, despite me not knowing anything on how to work it. I think it might be free as well, but don't quote me on that.

lazygecko
12-27-2009, 07:40 PM
TFM Maker wasn't specifically made to emulate Genesis, its focus was on Turbosound FM, with the universal YM chip support being more of a by-product. That means no DAC sample playback, and also no support for the 4 PSG channels which is a significant loss (though you could write the PSG parts separately in Mod2PSG and then mix them together). The tracker also only supports stereo when you play the file rendered as .vgm, no way to hear it in the actual tracker.

Sound advice from Yoozer about using different tracker techniques. I try to replicate most of these as much as I can in FLStudio which goes a long way in making chiptunes feel more authentic. This is something I feel all too often is lost when I listen to works by the newer generation of chip artists.
Another good trick is to transpose the notes down a bit on the scale for the faked echo parts, this was a good way to bring out more harmonies back in the day when channels were limited.

DZComposer
12-28-2009, 03:12 AM
Plogue has a new product called "Chipsounds" that can do one of the Genesis's chips, the TI SN76489 (which was also used in the ColecoVision). Sadly, the Yamaha YM2151 is absent.

It has a lot of 8 bit stuff, including NES.

http://www.plogue.com/?page_id=43

Not familiar with chiptunes enough to vouch for the accuracy.

It's ARIA-based, which is the sample engine co-created by Plogue and Garritan.

jamesaslett1985
12-28-2009, 11:59 AM
Wow, thanks for all the kind input guys! I've been messing with dropping MIDIs into GXSCC and it's well good!

Will check out the other stuff soon! :)