Ok, the new thing is 1-bit music made with Z80! Just like with the AppleII-post before, this is me being an astonished newbie. It sounds so nice and data, I can’t believe it’s not a sound chip!
Z80 is the processor found inside shit loads of 1980s machines, for example Gameboy, Sinclair ZX 80/81/Spectrum, MSX-computers, Commodore 128, TRS-80, Amstrad CPC, and more funny named ones including Galaksija, Tatung Einstein, Coleco Adam, Data Science XOR, Grundy NewBrain, MicroBee, and Tiki 100.
So yesterday I found this and this, filled with mp3s of Z80-music made with the ZX Spectrum (or clones). This is how it works, according to Yerzmey: “Z80 chip produces all sounds and sends them into BEEPER and AUDIO-OUT connector of ZX SPECTRUM (jack) through ULA chip”. Normally you can play 1 channel square waves, but with the 3.5 MHz of this Z80 you can play samples and get up to 8 channels of sounds! So this is another example of chip music that does not only play sounds immanent inside sound chips, but uses the CPU to create a sort of softsynth.
There is a bunch of different software to make Z80-music on the Spectrum, but curiously enough there is only one tracker in the list that Mister Beep shows. They all seem quite interesting. Apparently there is no editor for Tim Follin’s 3 channel sample playing routine. But this month TDM used it anyway, in a coop-track with Mister Beep, where he composed his bits in assembler: Insane organist. The most bizarre Spectrum software might be this one, which lets you compose true data music: you save the song data on to cassette, and when you play it in a normal cassette deck you can hear it again! I haven’t tried the software, so I am not sure how it works, but it sounds like this.
There are lots of people developing things for the ZX Spectrum still, like ZX Spectrum Orchestra. Demosceners hang out at raww.org and there’s daily action. A few days ago Yerzmey announced that people are playing Beeper music on Atari XL/XE! It does not use the Pokey, but rather the GTIA (which apparently generates a click sound when typing). Mister Beep also released a new ZX Spectrum demo this month: check it. And get these ones:
Alberto Gonzalez – The Light Corridor (slow and foxy)
Andy Mills – AnoGaia (funky and mini-squeeky)
Ben Daglish – Dark Fusion (rockfunk)
David Whittaker – Brave Starr (micro epic)
Fuxoft – Starfox (rockfunk)
Jason Brook – Rastan Saga (adventure tonality)
Tim Follin – Agent X part 2
Tim Follin – Future Games
Drum Machine (1984), 'photo' by Mister Beep