Free Friday Music on a Wednesday: little-scale

Check Handheld Heroes for little-scale‘s new release: Nothing Has Been Left Unspoken. As usual it is a delicate mixture of melancholy, spacious harmonies, crispy 8-bits, hardware hacking and FM and PSG. Being a multi-instrumentalist, this time he uses Sega Mega Drive, Atari 2600 and Commodore 64. For the last few years, little-scale from Australia has shown great new approaches to chipmusic by merging hardware hacking, programming and music. Little-scale is a good example of how hardcore technology appropriation/appreciation goes hand in hand with composition. He has transgressed many soundchips, but his music is good regardless (I think).

For example, take Molecules from his last release. I’m just guessing, but perhaps he’s using the Atari2600 for which he’s made several hacks. In this song, he’s doing something apparently basic: playing samples and slightly detuning a pulsewave melody over time. Thing is, this hasn’t been done on the Atari2600 before because its timbre & tuning is quite odd. But also, this kind of detuning is rare to hear in chipmusic in general. Most chipmusic is fixed to chromatic scales, and it is surprisingly rare that music moves outside of this. I think it’s wonderful how the detuning makes me feel a bit uncomfortable+happy. With little-scale, music and interface goes hand in hand into the data sunset. Oink!

update: oh, he just did 30 songs in 30 days too!

5 Responses to “Free Friday Music on a Wednesday: little-scale”

  1. yonxUP Says:

    you are confusing the chromatic scale with the equal temperament here.. not a big deal since the point is understood, but i thought i’d say something if you might write about it in your thesis :) chromatic scales indeed contain all semitones, but also implies that you can’t play C-E-G, you have to play C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F#-G.. jazz basslines contain a fair amount of chromatic progressions f.e..

  2. chipflip Says:

    ah. thanks for pointing that out! changed it in the text.

  3. yonxUP Says:

    also, while talking about microtonality i finally found the video of the swedish mad 80-year old professor Björn Tådne, who has been researching microtonal-related stuff since 1968.. chances are that he is sitting on some superfresh unreleased microtonal sid-players as his main studio computer still seems to be a C128 as can be seen on this picture:

    the full video (swedish only) can be viewed at at around 36:30

    • chipflip Says:

      ah yes. after a bit of googling, seems like he is actually looking for software to play microtonal stuff on the Atari…. i’ve e-mailed him anyway!

  4. little-scale Says:

    Yo! Thanks so much for the write up – very much unexpected.

    That detuned part is just a C64 – however, I do have the sw/hw to do what you are describing for 2600. But in this track I’m already using up all 2 voices of the TIA for sample playback and for normal TIA HW synthesis.

    On the topic of microtonality – my SEGA Mega Drive interface includes parameters to set the division of the octave, so you can play any division of equal temperament from 12-tet to around 40-tet and probably finer even still – although the frequency resolution of the YM 2612 might not be linear of the range of an octave at such fine divisions.

    You’re making me want to write some microtuned microtunes…

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