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  #201  
Old 03-14-2012, 03:24 AM
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danimal cannon danimal cannon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RushJet1 View Post
From what I can tell yeah. I think it's LSDJ (composed on the gameboy itself).
Yup on the original gameboy
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  #202  
Old 03-14-2012, 03:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RushJet1 View Post
From what I can tell yeah. I think it's LSDJ (composed on the gameboy itself).
From someone who knows nothing of chiptune composing...

those kicks don't sound much like a gameboy. But I could be wrong.

EDIT: danimal cannon is now a ninja :/
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  #203  
Old 03-14-2012, 04:31 AM
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Ugh, guys, I really don't have time to get into this debate! But, it's been on my mind all day. I'm going to sacrifice my homework and write down some of the things I've been thinking about.

I've noticed a number of comparisons of chip music to solo piano, or string quartet, or other fixed forms, even so far as to imply that if those "restrictive" mediums are allowed, than chiptunes should be allowed. From there, the argument over the nature of production value has also blossomed. There are a few things that I want to point out, and then ask.

To argue that chiptune music can't be allowed because of a "limited sound palette" would actually imply that a solo piano remix would be unacceptable criteria. You can do a lot to change the sound via pedaling, articulation, and extended technique, but it's still based on the sound of a piano string being struck. As far as chiptunes go, they have taken this notion far beyond what the piano is capable of. To suggest a chiptune needs a more complex soundscape is to imply that you couldn't submit a solo piano remix without arranging it with other instruments as well. Therefore, this criteria cannot stand alone.

One of the reasons I think we are tolerant of this "limitation," however, is due to the allure of the performance aspect. This really applies to any solo instrument. Although there do exist sequenced piano remixes on this site, the aesthetic still remains--and it's an aesthetic that's had hundreds of years to develop. The chiptune is an extremely young medium, which only began 40 or so years ago, and has only begun to blossom as it's own art in the last 10 years or so. But in those few years, it has developed into an instrument that you can perform on. Danimal alluded to this when he talked about the tracks he made on his gameboy, and I've seen folks perform on gameboys many times. Combined with the complexity that artists have discovered through manipulation to bypass the limitations, the chiptune has really taken on a virtuosity of it's own. When Sam talks about this medium needing 70 years or so, I interpret that as the amount of time he believes it takes before the chiptune is acknowledged as a solo "instrument," much like how only in the last 20 years has the marimba (my major area of study right now) begun to be perceived as something other than a novelty sound effect.

I think the core of our debate really comes down to the basic sound: solo instruments, whether synthesized, sampled or performed live, are derived from real, acoustic phenomena recorded as sound waves passing through the air. A plucked string, struck drum, or blown reed naturally have a greater complexity of sound than a simple sine or triangle wave. A lot of what we derive as "good production value" stems from trying to make sounds more realistic--adding reverb, controlling velocity...the fact that "round robins" are an important aspect of sound design is a prime example of this. Even in the techno/trance/dubstep(lol) genres that we see on ocr do this--synths still commonly produce more complicated sounds than simple sine and triangle waves, and often percussion emulates real instruments in some way or another.

What I gathered the issue was originally is that pure chiptune sounds do NOT derive themselves from acoustic phenomena at all. Rather, they are translations of electrical signals within a console. Some complexity of sound can be produced by combining and manipulating the voices, but it was the limitation to the maximum complexity achievable that I perceived as the criteria behind this site's stance.

So now, let's get into the philosophy: is the GameBoy an instrument?

Or NES, or whatever--these consoles have been manipulated to have midi and audio output, which modern day synthesizers have. You can "play" a gameboy live. However, the modern synthesizer attempts to emulate and create complex sounds that either emulate what already exists acoustically, or what cannot exist acoustically. The gameboy doesn't attempt to do this because of the limitations of it's hardware. Sure, we could create something that could do this. But then, it's not a gameboy (or nes or whatever).

Which leads to another question:

Does this rule out Theramin remixes?

The Theramin is even more limited than the gameboy because by itself, it's only capable of one voice. It is widely considered an isntrument--even a "classical instrument" (though an awfully elusive one). It's sound, too, is derived from internal electronic signals, just like the gameboy. Perhaps you could have an ensemble of theramins. That being said, you could also have an ensemble of gameboys. Would this change anything?

The gameboy (and nes and other chiptune creating instruments) is still limited based on tradition. It has a nostalgic, individual character to it that people recognize and cling to. It was never intended to be an instrument--it was just the best that the original creators could come up with at the time to provide music for games. We have modified it so that it can be a performable instrument, but have not expanded the initial limitations at all. The steel drum has a very similar origin story, starting out as trash cans that people would bang on until they figured out they could make pitches. They modified their trash cans to have finite pitch, and another instrumental tradition was born.

And going back to my original point, if we were to rule out chip tunes because it is technologically possible to do more than what it's capable of, why do we tolerate any instrumental genre based on a tradition?

You know, this is a great discussion for the site and all, but I think we may have stumbled into a much deeper, further reaching conversation. Technology is evolving rapidly, and the rest of the world hasn't really caught up. In debating the acceptance policy of chiptunes, we've opened up an awesome can of worms: what constitutes an instrumental genre?
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  #204  
Old 03-14-2012, 04:41 AM
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Ethan Rex Ethan Rex is offline
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  #205  
Old 03-14-2012, 05:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrumUltimA View Post
-Wall-o-text-
I read through what you had to say, and I have to mention that chiptunes are not banned from OCR, so to claim such is to make a straw man argument. There hasn't been an example of one passing because the claim is that it's very tough to get a pure chiptune to 'production levels' of other songs (even other chiptune artists agree with this sentiment). Sorry, but your argument really doesn't have bearing on the discussion.

The debate is whether or not the OCR judges should consider chiptunes on a different level when it comes to the site's production standards. Frankly, I think there's some really freakin' good chiptune music out there already (even pure chiptunes) that would be accepted onto OCR if they were instead arrangements of VG music, but there's been a stigma on them for so long that the really good artists have avoided making chiptune music for the site. That's where I sit on it, anyway - there technically isn't an issue with chiptune discrimination; rather, it's that there's no extra consideration for chiptune submissions that should be considered with the submissions (at least, that's what I'm pulling from the arguments).
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  #206  
Old 03-14-2012, 05:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gario View Post
the claim is that it's very tough to get a pure chiptune to 'production levels' of other songs (even other chiptune artists agree with this sentiment). Sorry, but your argument really doesn't have bearing on the discussion.

The debate is whether or not the OCR judges should consider chiptunes on a different level when it comes to the site's production standards.
okay okay okay okay I know they're not banned--my wording may have implied that (I was typing real fast), but I typed that wall o' text up with exactly what you just said in mind. Most of my comparison of chiptunes to a solo instrument is reflective of the notion of treating chiptunes as a special instrumental form, just like we do (on ocr and everywhere else) with piano and other instruments. Also, I know the debate has included (much earlier on) the notion of accepting chiptunes as being within the current production standards. I'm more interested in questioning the definition of production standards.

Also, I wasn't arguing any point, I was asking questions! If anything, my argument is that our argument is reflective of a much broader question--how is technology effecting the way we perceive instrumental genres in the first place?

Dammit Gario, how are you boutta tell me off like that! See if I ever sleep with you again.

Last edited by DrumUltimA; 03-14-2012 at 05:16 AM. Reason: gario snores
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  #207  
Old 03-14-2012, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrumUltimA View Post
okay okay okay okay I know they're not banned--my wording may have implied that (I was typing real fast), but I typed that wall o' text up with exactly what you just said in mind. Most of my comparison of chiptunes to a solo instrument is reflective of the notion of treating chiptunes as a special instrumental form, just like we do (on ocr and everywhere else) with piano and other instruments. Also, I know the debate has included (much earlier on) the notion of accepting chiptunes as being within the current production standards. I'm more interested in questioning the definition of production standards.
Hmm... It is a good question that I don't have a good answer for (I think the people discussing it right now are the right people to do so). Personally I think that chiptunes come pretty damn close to being acceptable to the OCR standards, already, and don't even need extra consideration; we just need more submissions. That's my humble opinion, so take that sentiment with a grain of salt and keep an ear on the judges & chiptune artists, if you want to know where things stand, now... :P

Because I care, I think I'll look at your other post in some more detail and sum my thoughts, anyway.

Quote:
As far as chiptunes go, they have taken this notion far beyond what the piano is capable of. To suggest a chiptune needs a more complex soundscape is to imply that you couldn't submit a solo piano remix without arranging it with other instruments as well. Therefore, this criteria cannot stand alone.
I believe that a chiptune could very well cover the soundscape appropriately and up to standards, actually. It would just be more difficult to do so than with an instrument (such as a piano or guitar) that is designed for more flexible polyphonic writing. The chiptune is actually a unique beast in that area in that it CAN handle polyphony - just not that much of it, if it's going to be pure. It's tough, but using programming tricks, polyphony, rapid fire timbre changes and the like it's entirely possible to give the chiptune a full sound (I mean, just listen to some of the stuff posted earlier...).

Quote:
I think the core of our debate really comes down to the basic sound: solo instruments, whether synthesized, sampled or performed live, are derived from real, acoustic phenomena recorded as sound waves passing through the air. A plucked string, struck drum, or blown reed naturally have a greater complexity of sound than a simple sine or triangle wave. A lot of what we derive as "good production value" stems from trying to make sounds more realistic--adding reverb, controlling velocity...the fact that "round robins" are an important aspect of sound design is a prime example of this. Even in the techno/trance/dubstep(lol) genres that we see on ocr do this--synths still commonly produce more complicated sounds than simple sine and triangle waves, and often percussion emulates real instruments in some way or another.
Hmm... When the judges are looking for good production values, they're looking for clean recordings (or decent samples, pending on what you're using), clear mixing (no clipping, no overcrowding, no muddiness, etc.), and a soundscape that doesn't sound too hollow (panning, whether or not the frequencies are properly spread, etc.). Then there's the issue of output clarity (does the file sound like it's been run through as a lower quality Mp3, or something?). That's really it, in terms of raw production. The only hurdles that chiptunes hit are soundscape issues, as it's really almost impossible to have poor samples (they're chiptunes, after all), and it's trivial to have a clean mix. It's difficult to fill the space, though, and remain a purist, so really good artists use tricks with the hardware to mimic reverb, polyphony, etc. to create a full soundscape.

On top of that, there are compositional issues that come up - since this is OCR, the arrangements need to both deviate from the source and be recognizable, at the same time. When a device needs to use it's precious channels to imitate special effects it can be tricky to have a creative arrangement behind it, as well. Again, though, the artists that are discussing this topic have already shown their power to arrange is not hindered by these factors, so while it's tough, it's not inconceivable.

I believe that a really good chiptune track could easily pass the panel (barring Espergirl - I'm still on the side that the track should've passed, but that's personal opinion), as the things that you requested (as well as the things that I've brought up) can be done in a chiptune without any outside tampering.

Quote:
So now, let's get into the philosophy: is the GameBoy an instrument?
Given what people have said in this thread (and from seeing people play their gameboys at MAGfest), I think the answer is objectively 'yes'.

Quote:
Does this rule out Theramin remixes?
Er, what?

Quote:
The Theramin is even more limited than the gameboy because by itself, it's only capable of one voice. It is widely considered an isntrument--even a "classical instrument" (though an awfully elusive one). It's sound, too, is derived from internal electronic signals, just like the gameboy. Perhaps you could have an ensemble of theramins. That being said, you could also have an ensemble of gameboys. Would this change anything?
I believe it would be very, VERY hard to get a solo monophonic instrumental onto this site because that would be very difficult to fill the soundscape with - easily more difficult than getting a chiptune onto the site. When you have an ensemble of the instruments then you'd easily solve the problem (it would work for the gameboys, too, most likely). That's irrelevant, though, as people are talking about pure chiptunes - implying that they're staying within the limits of a single machine.

Quote:
And going back to my original point, if we were to rule out chip tunes because it is technologically possible to do more than what it's capable of, why do we tolerate any instrumental genre based on a tradition?
Hmmm... this is where I think you're making a straw man. I don't think any instrument is treated as special based on it's 'tradition', but because they can fulfill the requirements that I listed above without a problem, and that doesn't really apply to most solo instruments (only piano and guitar, really). Pull up a remix that uses a solo monophonic instrument (I don't care which instrument, as long as it's monophonic). I don't think one exists because they can't possibly create a thick enough soundscape to cover the basic requirements of the site. Pure chiptunes are actually one of very few potentially viable instruments that could fulfill OCR's requirements, so actually they're in a better position than most solo instruments. You should be upset that there isn't a Marimba remix, yet - that's a polyphonic instrument that doesn't have any solo love on OCR, yet. Make it happen, DrumUltimA.

Ensembles fulfill the requirements in question, obviously, but then we're talking about ensembles of more than one instrument and that's not even close to comparable to pure chiptunes. We have an entire subgenre that's dedicated to songs that use chiptunes amid other instruments and sounds (Halc, Chthonic, hell, myself), so it should be pretty obvious that chiptunes in an ensemble are perfectly acceptable and don't need any further special treatment.

Quote:
You know, this is a great discussion for the site and all, but I think we may have stumbled into a much deeper, further reaching conversation. Technology is evolving rapidly, and the rest of the world hasn't really caught up. In debating the acceptance policy of chiptunes, we've opened up an awesome can of worms: what constitutes an instrumental genre?
Haha, well that IS a can of awesome worm sauce, but I don't think that can be covered in this thread very easily.

Quote:
Dammit Gario, how are you boutta tell me off like that! See if I ever sleep with you again.
Aw shit, man, y'know you'd just come crawling back to bed with me eventually, man. Don't be hatin' like that, you know you don't mean it.
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Last edited by Gario; 03-14-2012 at 06:08 AM.
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  #208  
Old 03-14-2012, 06:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danimal cannon View Post
LOL.
EX: This is an unfinished track I've been working on with a guy named Zef. The sounds we got on here might be difficult to reproduce with any synth, but even if you did, it would be insane to program the same arps, the same crazy basslines, the pitch shifts, etc. I would write them WAY differently if given a more traditional setup.
http://www.armcannon.com/danimal/zefboth.mp3
This is insane. You are insane. :J
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  #209  
Old 03-14-2012, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
I would write them WAY differently if given a more traditional setup.
That's good! That's the exact type of thing we're looking for, so I think we're on the same page now. Writing a normal dance (or whatever) remix using chip tones instead of more advanced synths is not interesting and that's what we're trying to discourage. The remix should take advantage of the production style and make a statement. Replacing all your synths with square waves does not an interesting chiptune make. We reject boring guitar covers and plodding preset-laden trance remixes for the same reason.

Phrased another way, THIS mp3 is not the kind of thing we were trying to discourage with the standards. What we're discouraging is stuff like these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d93ygFUtBPc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_6fw2750h0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUqLc2og9TI

Arrangement aside, these have no reason to exist with chiptune instrumentation. And I think you would agree on that.
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  #210  
Old 03-14-2012, 08:55 AM
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Dave Harris Dave Harris is offline
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Chibi-Tech just uploaded this song on youtube. The sound production is excellent - waaay different to what you'd get straight out of FamiTracker or any NSF player - as well as the song itself having excellent tracking technique.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr3wbFF3dvI

As I mentioned it's NSF (2A03+VRC6), and there's no other effects processing besides EQ, compression and some careful panning. I think it makes a great benchmark for sound production of chiptunes. Getting the mix sounding solid is something even chip format/hardware purists should be comfortable doing for submissions ~ hypothetically of course.
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