I remember a few years ago when I found a song performed by 7 C64:s. It was a cover by some “old classical composition” (in lack of better terminology). Unfortunately I didn’t really dig more deeply into this, until yesterday. It was programmed by Linus Åkesson in assembler to “get rid of the boring, quantized timing found in most computer-developed music” as he puts it himself. I had never really made a connection between “classical” music and chipmusic before and this was a fresh eye-opener. Browsing through his website, it turns out that Linus Åkesson is a very interesting data boy. For example:
1) He created his own chip. Together with his demoscene crew Akesson made the actual chip that plays the sounds and music: The Hardware Chiptune Project (2007). In a few days they made a microcontroller (8 Mhz CPU, 8kb ROM, 2kb RAM), programmed the sound generator and the tracker-software to finally make the music. The result is something far less minimalistic than Tristan Perich’s 1-bit music (2006).
2) Åkesson made a melody search engine for the C64 music collection HVSC: SID Theme Search Engine. The HVSC contains most C64-songs ever released, and the fileformat is essentially open source – containing all instruments and notation. That is why Åkesson could generate a database with the notes from each channel of almost every C64-song – a process which took several days eventhough using an emulator.
But to get back to the “classical” music in SID-style. There are several compositions: Allt Under Himmelens Fäste originally by the legendary demoscener Mahoney, Romance originally by Chopin but now in SID+piano version and, Fratres originally by Arvo Pärt. There are even more but my favourite remains the 7xSID-song Förklädd Gud. The thing that gets to me is that it’s rare to hear chipmusic so carefully crafted. The sounds are 8-bit but the assembler dynamics of 7 SID chips (although emulated) makes it sound more like Wendy Carlos than Rob Hubbard. This is an interesting song to keep in your pocket when people blame chip music for being simplistic. So check out Åkesson’s website – there are lots of interesting projects and lots of information and downloads aswell.