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Garpocalypse

Sega Genesis-Yamaha YM2612 Music Deconstructed

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I'll admit that as much as I love retro game audio I never really came across much information regarding the specific sound chips of earlier consoles.  It's one of those things where I always had an interest in them but would never be able to contribute to a conversation about them.  While I was trying to remedy this I came across these videos that deconstruct the different channels to show how each channel was used in the resulting mix.  If anyone is into how composers worked back in the day and the limitations they dealt with then these are an interesting watch.  

 

 

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Fascinating stuff :o It's weird how Green Hill Zone could sound like random notes when you only hear them on separate channels. Watching the Streets of Rage 2 one makes me more convinced that Yuzo Koshiro could make any game soundtrack, regardless of hardware limitations, sound so damn good.

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Deconstructing old sequenced music and listening to the separate components is one of the most interesting things you can do, and an extremly efficient learning tool. Not just for learning how chiptunes were made, but just growing and becoming a better musician in general. Elements that sound very simple and detached on their own but fuse to become more than the sum of their parts, or just knowing when to kill your darlings (like getting rid of the root note of a chord to save channel space, which the bass is already playing anyway) is not just a chiptune thing but also arrangement 101 and ultimately a means to getting a well balanced mix (since arrangement and mixing is largely intertwined). I feel as though it's a skillset that is becoming more and more rare in today's production climate. Top-tier arrangers do this kind of stuff all the time even when they're not beholden to technical limitations.

I think it's worthwhile for any musician, no matter what genre, to dabble around with chiptunes. And by that I mean specifically working with getting the most out of these constraints and not just resorting to "bleeps and bloops" which is the usual reductive thinking applied to this type of music. It's such a great way of training yourself in these elements and really start thinking actively about them overall.

I have provided 2 "stem" archives for some Genesis soundtracks I find technically interesting, by just isolating the channels and rendering them into .wavs so you can load them all up in a DAW and thoroughly analyze what's going on in them. You can do this yourself using the [url=http://www.smspower.org/Music/InVgm]in_vgm plugin for Winamp with anything from [url=http://project2612.org/]Project2612

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/66640537/Thunder%20Force%20IV%20Stems.zip

Notice how the rhythm guitar here is split up into 2 layers with different sounds. One for mids and one for treble. Then these are "dubbed" once again and panned (as well as detuned slightly for a chorus effect), taking up 4 channels in total to create this huge wall of guitars that is pretty much equivalent of a fully fledged studio metal production.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/66640537/Devilish%20Intro%20Stems.zip

I really like how the simple PSG squares synergize with the FM bells here to create a very vibrant sound. You can also hear how the "choirs" are really the same kind of synth string section you often hear on the system, but it just has this fast upwards pitch bend in the attack which adds this kind of formant quality to it that we usually associate with voices.

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1 hour ago, lazygecko said:

Deconstructing old sequenced music and listening to the separate components is one of the most interesting things you can do, and an extremly efficient learning tool. Not just for learning how chiptunes were made, but just growing and becoming a better musician in general. Elements that sound very simple and detached on their own but fuse to become more than the sum of their parts, or just knowing when to kill your darlings (like getting rid of the root note of a chord to save channel space, which the bass is already playing anyway) is not just a chiptune thing but also arrangement 101 and ultimately a means to getting a well balanced mix (since arrangement and mixing is largely intertwined). I feel as though it's a skillset that is becoming more and more rare in today's production climate. Top-tier arrangers do this kind of stuff all the time even when they're not beholden to technical limitations.

I think it's worthwhile for any musician, no matter what genre, to dabble around with chiptunes. And by that I mean specifically working with getting the most out of these constraints and not just resorting to "bleeps and bloops" which is the usual reductive thinking applied to this type of music. It's such a great way of training yourself in these elements and really start thinking actively about them overall.

I have provided 2 "stem" archives for some Genesis soundtracks I find technically interesting, by just isolating the channels and rendering them into .wavs so you can load them all up in a DAW and thoroughly analyze what's going on in them. You can do this yourself using the [url=http://www.smspower.org/Music/InVgm]in_vgm plugin for Winamp with anything from [url=http://project2612.org/]Project2612

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/66640537/Thunder%20Force%20IV%20Stems.zip

Notice how the rhythm guitar here is split up into 2 layers with different sounds. One for mids and one for treble. Then these are "dubbed" once again and panned (as well as detuned slightly for a chorus effect), taking up 4 channels in total to create this huge wall of guitars that is pretty much equivalent of a fully fledged studio metal production.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/66640537/Devilish%20Intro%20Stems.zip

I really like how the simple PSG squares synergize with the FM bells here to create a very vibrant sound. You can also hear how the "choirs" are really the same kind of synth string section you often hear on the system, but it just has this fast upwards pitch bend in the attack which adds this kind of formant quality to it that we usually associate with voices.

You are GOD. 

Gonna be checking these out for sure!

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On 06/01/2016 at 4:49 AM, Garpocalypse said:

I think it's worthwhile for any musician, no matter what genre, to dabble around with chiptunes. And by that I mean specifically working with getting the most out of these constraints and not just resorting to "bleeps and bloops" which is the usual reductive thinking applied to this type of music.

SO TRUE. When people think "chiptunes", they usually think the bleepity-bloop of the NES. What about the SNES, with its ability to create pseudo-CD audio, and the Mega Drive (I'm Aussie) with its MUCH more varied soundfonts? STOP USING THE NES!

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Wow, it's a shame that I missed this last year. I LOVE listening to things like this, but I was never able to figure out how to do that with Genesis channels (I love doing it with NES and SNES games, though). Great handling of timbre on the Sonic track, for sure.

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1 hour ago, Gario said:

Wow, it's a shame that I missed this last year. I LOVE listening to things like this, but I was never able to figure out how to do that with Genesis channels (I love doing it with NES and SNES games, though). Great handling of timbre on the Sonic track, for sure.

And I don't even think the Sonic soundtracks make particularly effective use of the hardware, even if they sound good as they are. Last week I did a cover of Spring Yard precisely for this reason

My videos showcase each individual channel so you can kind of see what's going on. But I also made the Deflemask project public so you can download Deflemask and open it there to take a closer look at what I did differently from the original.

http://www.deflemask.com/forum/show-off-your-work/sonic-1-spring-yard-zone-(genesis)/

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