Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

Realtime Text /2/ Interview with BBS-artist

December 5, 2012

The previous post was inspired by a conversation I had with Erik Nilsson, probably the only one who’s made a music video on a BBS. We talked about the 1990’s, when teenagers used BBS instead of WWW to talk. When you could see how the person on the other end of the modem was acting. I’ve added my comments [in brackets] to explain some technical stuff that Erik talks about.

ERIK > I remember as an early lamer, the sysops would wonder what the fuck you were up to. I remember the feeling of knowing that the sysop could be watching your every move. It was a bit like being in someone’s house, or in some sort of social club.

I remember the local BBS Secret Gate as one of the first places where I was accepted, and met friends. They had 3 nodes [phonelines = 3 simultaneous users] so you could chat with other users – not just the sysop. That’s how I started to hang out with Mortimer Twang, and together with Trivial we started Divine Stylers.

CHIPFLIP > Did you talk mostly about computer stuff, or also other things?

ERIK > I lived in an isolated place, so the computer was really a window into a world full of everything. Mortimer’s early mod music was my introduction to loop-based alternative music. The loopy and psychedelic aspects of dance music works really well in amiga trackers.

But there was also friendship, and pretty close conversations. I remember when I had my own BBS and my best friend called. We had fallen for the same girl, and I remember the chats we had about it. The pauses and the trembling made the conversation more tender. It was a really emotional talk, which I can still think back to and appreciate. It could have been through any medium, but I remember how the pauses and the tempo of the text made it more “charged”. I remember typing “I’m crying” and getting back “me too”. :)

There is a big difference in seeing the words take shape, instead of just reading them. It’s more personal. What you type is closer to the thought you have before you say it.

CHIPFLIP > Why do you think the real-time text isn’t around anymore?

ERIK > What was once standard no longer exists. It’s as if technology has taken a step back when it comes to text-based communication. I really don’t know why the intermediate step of pressing return has been added. It’s like you publish the text, while you used to say things more directly. The movement of the cursor reveals how the person is hesitating, erasing or contemplating.

If you chat on a BBS, you press return twice to signal that the other one can start writing. But it was still possible to interrupt the other one, if there was a heated argument for example. That doesn’t happen the same way in say Skype, because there is a gap between the users. It feels more plastic and more “simulated” than it has to be.

Well, when I think about Skype, which I use on daily basis there actually is a ‘function’ reminding about the old days standard in a weird way. In Skype you can actually see on a small icon when the person is typing and erasing, it’s really far away from the old chat style, it’s a weird verson of it in some way.. Still not even close to the thing I miss, but I guess someone was thinking about this gap when making Skype.

CHIPFLIP: And it’s more difficult to change your mind, too. Did you use the backspace often?

ERIK: Yeah, you erase constantly if you’ve learnt how to type street style. Erasing is just as important as typing. ;) I got really into animated text. It was a like digital thumb twiddling. You typed something, erased it, and replaced it with something new to make an animation. Sometimes you erased it because you didn’t want to keep it on the screen, like card numbers for example :) You typed it on the screen, and when the other person had written it to a piece of paper, you erased it.

CHIPFLIP > So one way to make animations on a BBS is to quite simply “type the animation”. And due to the slow modem speed, it will look animated when you play it back. But what kind of options were there to make the graphics on the BBS?

ERIK > There were a couple of different chat systems. The most common one was that each user had a colour, and you simply pressed return twice when you were done. There were also more advanced chats for ami/x, where you could move the cursor freely, like in a text editor or like the message editor in C*Base for C64.

CHIPFLIP > Was there anything bad about it being real-time?

ERIK > No. I mean it’s not the real-time thing that made it disappear. It changed because IRC took over most of the communication for the elite scene, since it was more global. When internet came real-time chat just disappeared by itself. It’s probably all just one big PC bug.

The situation is a bit similar to that of PETSCII [Commodore’s own ASCII-standard, with colors, plenty of graphical characters]. PETSCII is a better and more evolved system for text and symbols. It was more beautiful and personal to directly use the keyboard to write a letter to someone using colours, symbols and even 4×4 pixel graphics. Today you have to load images and change font colour in some menu to make a really spaced out e-mail. It’s slower, and it’s not “in the keyboard” like on the C64.

CHIPFLIP > What’s the best modern alternative to PETSCII?

ERIK > ANSI is not really an option, from my point of view. It’s typical “slow PC” style. Like some kind of Atari. You draw the graphics in a graphics program. Choose with the mouse. Draw fancy stuff from choices you make on the screen. It’s just like Photoshop.

PETSCII could’ve been a good source of inspiration for mobile phones, for example. But it needs an update to have meaning and function today. But how the system works, makes it the most interesting one I know of, still. ASCII is okay, but you still have to use a special editor to make the graphics. That’s a step in the wrong direction.

The C64 is like a synthesizer – you just turn it on, and get to work. With modern computers you have to wait for it to start, find the right program, and so on. They say that computers are faster today, but honestly – I have no idea what they are talking about! They only seem to get slower.

It’s strange, because computers were not supposed to become stiff and flat, like they are today. There’s all this talk about more convenience and speed, but from day one humans have only made it harder for computers to help us.

CHIPFLIP > A very broad explanation, also, is to consider analogue media as immediate (light bulbs, guitars, TVs, analogue synthesizers) and digital media as more-or-less indirect. It can never have zero latency and we seem to, somewhat paradoxically, accept that changing the channel on a modern TV takes 10 times longer than it used to. If you know Swedish you can read more about those things here.

Other than that, thanks so much to Erik for sharing his thoughts on this. Let’s fix the future!

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Realtime Text /1/ Why Did it Disappear?

November 30, 2012

When we chat to each other, we don’t do it in real-time. Until we press return, the person on the other end can’t see what we’re doing. But it wasn’t always like that. Before the internet took over the world, you could actually see how the other person was typing. It is like a digital equivalent to body language; involuntary, unescapable, direct and intimate. All this was destroyed, as the return key gradually went from carriage return (↵) to enter.

Initially, the most mainstream example of real-time text I could think of was real-time captions for TV. It’s a service offered to deaf people in public service areas like UK and Scandinavia. It’s produced word-by-word (“chords“) and its mere existence adds a new dimension to TV-watching: you know when a program is following a script and when it’s not. There are many more real-time text services, often involving so called disabled people. Actually, there is even a Real-Time Text Taskforce (R3TF).

But wait a minute. Why did I forget about collaborative text editors like Etherpad or Google Docs? I use those very often. Great for having two people editing the same text. But they are also boring, I guess. I use them primarily for facts, lists, research, etc. Only a few times did I use them for something more playful or emotional. It’s like having fun in Microsoft Word. It just doesn’t happen, unless as an anomaly. Consider the difference to a less officey site like Your World of Text.

It’s not that it’s not possible to use real-time text. In fact, popular chats like Google Talk and iChat support it, but don’t implement it. AOL IM implements it but you have to activate it yourself.

Chat is a clear example of how new media makes things more indirect, by adding layers to the interface. Even if you believe that digital media only gets better, you’d have to admit that chat is an exception to that. Right? Chat is actually slower and less expressive than it was in the 90’s. Or even the 70’s with PLATO. Chat has derailed into some sort of primitive enter-beast, where you can’t even draw or use images.

Computer-mediated human-to-human communication is quite primitive, isn’t it? It’s like 1968 only with more layers to make it indirect and abstract. Layers of secrecy, as good ol’ Kittler would say.

In the next part, I will post a conversation I had with the BBS-artist Erik Nilsson. That was actually the reason why this post was written, so stay tuned!

C64-sounds Hiding in Soundtracks: Interview With GMM

September 27, 2012

I was watching a documentary on TV about a Norwegian artist called Pushwagner (born 1940). Suddenly I heard arpeggios. And ring modulation. And wavetable drums. Hm, what’s this C64 stuff doing in a documentary like this, I thought. That raised some questions, so I got in touch Gisle Martens Meyer who made the music for Pushwagner, and he was kind enough to answer my questions.

It turns out that he once smashed an Amiga 500 on stage, composed MODs and also made some more recent chip-releases under the name Ninja 9000. But I was curious about how he works with chip sounds for soundtracks. Apparently he always uses SID-sounds, more or less, but some clients are more conservative than others…

Listen to the Pushwagner songs on Soundcloud (fyi, Goblin Roadtrip is the most chippy one)

CHIPFLIP > Could you tell us a little about the process behind it? Was it your idea to include these sounds? Did you have any specific ideas behind it?

GMM > Actually the process of providing music to the film is less old-skool writing-to-locked-image and more supplying-directors-with-material-to-work-with. The directors had access to all my stuff during a rather long production period, for maybe four years I think. So they always worked on the film with bits of my music (from all of my projects), but I didn’t write specifically for them during this preproduction. I just kept releasing stuff, or giving them unreleased stuff.

Then, during editing, the last six months, I’m properly involved, mostly in discussing track or cue selections, and if they need musical edits to fit their cuts I arrange it as we agree. In some cases I rewrite or adapt tracks so they work better with the scene. So it’s not scoring in a traditional sense. The directors work with mostly finished music all the time. I work like this with multiple directors, it’s like a sliding scale from sync license to adaptive score… So to answer the question; no – I did not “add” the arps and SID stuff there during scoring, the directors did by choosing those tracks, and we actually discussed their sound and how/if they would fit.

The directors (like me) grew up with C64 and Amigas and we all love those sounds, but also know they could appear alien, depending on context. So it wasn’t me, it was all of us making a deliberate choice.

CHIPFLIP > Did you or the directors have any relation to the demoscene?

GMM > I can’t remember if the directors were active sceners or quietly contributing / creating without making it public… So I can’t speak for them. I was a young and clueless musician and didn’t really participate much in groups or front of scene, I was lurking far away. I made some music disks on my own, mostly under pseudonym Gnosis and through a Czech group called Torture Of Music. I think some of it is available in scene archives.

CHIPFLIP > Do you, or anyone else, think that the common associations of these sounds (videogames and 8-bit) was problematic for the atmosphere of the documentary?

GMM > No, and I never heard anyone else either, rather the opposite I think, it really works. The kind of people who would react negatively to SID-sounds wouldn’t watch this kind of documentary. If they exist, how can anyone not like those sounds…

I think people “into” these kinds of things recognize particulars, like it sounds like a C64. Other people just recognize or label it as “the kind of videogame sound”. Other people again (like kids) just like the bubbly fun or the playfullness of it.

And in general I think if you use SID-sounds – as any other sound – as a balanced musical element in a larger context, it works fine and it can hold it’s own. It’s just there and it sounds right.

CHIPFLIP > Some would say that by now, chipsounds stand on their own feet, separated from the 8bit/videogame thing. What do you think?

GMM > I agree and agreed a long time ago. I hear it lots of places in all kinds of contexts. It always makes me happy, there should be more :)

CHIPFLIP > What kind of feedback have you received?

GMM > Positive. Kids seem to love the bubbly C64 tracks. Adults seem to like the span of genres, sounds and atmospheres in the music. The soundtrack was featured in some online services like Spotify and Wimp when it was released. I don’t read reviews, but I understand the movie in general was well received. The score was nominated for best film music at the Norwegian film awards Amanda this summer, and is also nominated for Nordic Film Composer Awards.

CHIPFLIP > Did you use SID-sounds for other soundtracks aswell?

GMM > Yes, always, and got them into several, but mostly as an element and not complete solution. And sometimes very subtle, like a cameo…. I also did some conceptual work on a film score using deliberate Amiga Protracker sounds and programming, but that one has been in funding phase for ages. But curiously I note that in my TV work there is rarely room for or approval of SID-sounds. TV is perhaps more conservative.

CHIPFLIP > When your SID sounds are not approved in TV-productions, how is that usually expressed? What do they say that they don’t like?

GMM > It’s never an angry director or producer wanting to remove it, it’s usually intuitive understanding by me not to waste time trying to sneak it in, because there is so little time for everything in TV. I usually work with people I am very well in sync with, so I mostly just “know” it wouldn’t work, because of the total sound or aesthetics of the series or project. I am sure there are situations where it would work wonders, I just haven’t been exposed to them yet.
Like I did a sci-fi puppet series for kids, and the sound was “orchestral symphonic”, and trying to make it “hollywood”. I didn’t even think of chipsounds, it didn’t fit. But I can use “chip” techniques, like a subtle one-time +12 octave arp at the start of sounds to make it stand out quicker for a theme signal, things like that.

I think TV is often shorter “everything”, shorter time for production, shorter span for telling something, shorter room for experimentation. TV’s just hectic, in all ways. That’s maybe why less chip there, or if it’s there, it’s really obvious there. Don’t know. Interesting to think about, good questions!

Amiga in the UK-charts: Dex & Jonesey

January 13, 2012

In the 1990’s you could use chipmusic tools to make dance music hits. It was r rare to hear 8-bit songs in public before that. With a few exceptions, records with 8-bit music appeared in the 90’s and were made on the Amiga (see the timeline).

The British duo Dex & Jonesey have probably been involved with more chart hits with the Amiga than anyone else. They worked with 15 UK chart hits between 1996 and 2001, even with mainstream folks like Phil Collins and Lionel Richie. Imagine feeding some phresh Phil Collins vocals into OctaMED, eyh!

They mainly worked with more dancefloor oriented artists though. Their remixes of Josh Wink’s Higher State of Consciousness apparently sold about half a million copies (including their radio edit). Dex & Jonesey used the Amiga for Hardfloor, Usura, Todd Terry and about 40 other releases (check the discography, up until Strings of Justice).

Back in the 1990’s, music retromania was more about synthesizers than computers. It wasn’t like today, when you get bonus points for any 8-bit reference. I mail-talked with Jonesey to get some more information.

– The music biz found out soon enough after attending the studio that we were literally running a Phil Collins record from 1000 pounds worth of studio and out doing David Morales and Arman van Helden. It was bizarre looking back! We did some huge magazine interviews which was really fun. Yet the music industry hated the fact we were not Apple Mac focused and produced so many hit records from a ‘poor man’s’ computer. There was a lot of negativity that we had to fight, but content as always was king and we made it through the storm!

Dex & Jonesey started with Amiga 500 and Protracker, but quickly moved on to using two Amiga 1200 running OctaMED, complemented by a keyboard. – The 44khz quality of DAT was good enough to master from. We had literally a full studio although everything had to be recorded live to DAT including live keyboards which I played. It was daunting but at the same time great fun, it was like being on tour and playing in a live band.

Dex & Jonesey had a competetive edge in two ways. They had a huge library of sounds that they’d sampled from extended mixes amongst other things (all stored on floppies, of course). Secondly, the sound of the Amiga made it stand out from the others. – The sounds were crunchy and tough, not dull and bland, thus allowed my music to have an advantage that others could not replicate. I even had a famous product downgrade to an 8 bit to get the ‘sound’ but it was more than technology that drove the output/results.

In 1999 the duo split up, but Jonesey continued to use the Amiga for hits like Independence. He stuck with the Amigas for another two years, but then switched to Logic on Mac. – When finance got much better I bailed out on the Amigas as technology had caught up and the machines had broken down. I had bought around 15 of them and grown tired of the failures. I went to Apple Mac and still have the leading 8 core system that runs Logic Pro. 

What OctaMED provided compared to the new setup, was a fast work pace. – The part I missed about the Amigas the most was the quickness of operations. It was so user friendly where Macs are always so complex!

Such ‘immersive’ qualities of trackers are often forgotten. Once you know them, they are really quick to work with. A lot of the people I interviewed for my thesis mentioned it, and it was recently empirically researched by Nash & Blackwell of the Rainbow Research Group (pdf). But trackers are not made for handling long chunks of audio. If you’re a remixer and use the original audio, even a modern tracker like Renoise is a bit painful. So respect to Dex & Jonesey for keeping it up for so long!

Demoscene Theory With Doctor Botz

November 1, 2009

I recently had the pleasure of getting a sneak peak on Daniel Botz’s doctoral dissertation on the demoscene, entitled “Hacker-Ästhetik” (to be published). I am struggling with reading German, but I’m quite impressed with the extensive research that has gone into it. It has some refreshing views on the history, aesthetics and materiality of the demoscene. Before I got a peak of the dissertation, I was e-mailing back and forth with Botz during the summer. I thought I’d publish some of it here to see if it can lead to some interesting discussions. I am currently bathing in theory for my thesis on chipmusic, and I have been using some ideas from here. I’ve probably upset the radical post-humanist Friedrich Kittler by studying soundchips as social constructions pre-encoded with musical conventions, rather than mere ontological facts. But the idea of inherent aesthetical potentials in materials is refreshingly anti-individualistic.

Choose your youtube Amiga oldschool demo soundtrack: dr.vector or lizardking or tip&firefox or diablo.

(more…)

Interview With Wermut on Sampling Music

September 3, 2009

I’ve conducted an e-mail interview with Wermut, who appropriated a C64-song by Mindflow, to see what their view is on sampling and music ownership. The purpose is not to discuss formal issues or moralize, but to explore the reasons for sampling (chip)music and not attributing. The interview corresponds with ideas I have sketched before; Wermut comes from a culture based on sonic exchanges whereas the dominant (outspoken) discourse in chipmusic seems to be more about individual ownership.

WERMUT > First of all let me say that we are quite amazed by the reactions which are caused by a 5 year old song. And quite frankly we have the impression that there are other motivations behind all this witch-hunting than a mere copyright problem. But anyway, we will try to answer your questions… Before we burn on a stake!

CHIPFLIP > Could you tell us how you found Timewaster? Are you connected with the demoscene, or 8-bit music?

WERMUT > In 2003 I discovered the SID-Collection on the internet and listened to all of the 27087 songs in order to pick out my personal favourites. One of them turned out to be MINDFLOW’s “Wooloop”. I love this song for its simplicity and minimalism, yet it is so effective!

In the 80s I already was a musician for a small group of wannabe hackers on the Commodore Amiga. Since then I wrote songs (and still do, even if my Amiga 500 is showing signs of passing away soon) on the legendary soundtracker… And of course I was into the Amiga demo scene! I never had a C64 though… But I wish I had :(

CHIPFLIP > Is your Amiga music available somewhere online?

It once was online, for years, but our provider erased everything.

CHIPFLIP > Have you used 9-second-samples for other music you have made?

WERMUT > Sincerely, I do not keep track of all the things I sample. I consider myself an artist, not a “thief”… If I like a sound or a melody, and if I think that this will do good in a song, than it can help create something different and new, then I use it. This is, incidentally, the way 99,9 % of techno music is made! Funnily enough, the people who have a problem with this are rarely musicians themselves…

There are not many samples in the music of WERMUT though… And we consider the song “Away” more than just a 9 second sample! The sample may be the basis of the song, but there is a whole additional instrumentation and vocals, which makes it something very different… I hope that the guys behind MINDFLOW agree to that.

CHIPFLIP > Are you getting more attention for the Timewaster-sample than other samples you’ve used?

WERMUT > We’ve never had any kind of “attention” about any samples we’ve used before… Not that we used that many… And quite frankly we’re still amazed by the reactions created by this one. Maybe that is due to the fact that we come from the techno and industrial scene, where a sampler is an instrument like any other. And I think this particular reaction has largely to do with that forum phenomenon, which seems to get somehow “out of hand”!

CHIPFLIP > Do you usually contact authors when using sampled material? Why did you choose not to contact the authors of Timewaster?

WERMUT > No. Having been a musician for quite a long time, I’ve had several times the pleasure of recognizing samples which were taken from my music in songs of other people, who did not contact me… And frankly, I was flattered every time. And anyway I do not consider the work I do my “property”… It goes way beyond that!!!

On the other hand I think it was YELLO who once said, that if somebody “steals” from you, this only means that there is “something” to steal, meaning that being sampled should be considered a compliment… Or am I (or YELLO) wrong?

CHIPFLIP > I understand your copyleft-perspective, but isn’t there a difference between using 9 seconds and 1 second? What I mean is – in the extreme case – people copy 100% of another work, and say that they made it themself. How do you make a distinction between sampling and plagiarism?

WERMUT > Well, this is the problem when one starts making laws, scales and charts for everything, isn’t it? Where to begin and where to stop? At 1 second or 1 minute? 2 per cent or 20? Sorry, but this is a dilemma we’d rather leave to other people. We do not think a piece of music is something you can evaluate with percentages. It is a question of feeling and spirit. Even if a lot of people would like to make it otherwise.

Since we listen to techno, industrial, noise, experimental, field recordings, musique concrete and ambient, we do not ask ourselves such questions as “what is music and what is noise”, or what is sampled and what is played live (which, by the way, would be quite head-splitting). We listen to music to feel what is beyond the sound. Not to investigate how every second of it was made!

CHIPFLIP > Do you think that composers in general think it’s more okay to sample large parts of 8-bit music? Why?

WERMUT > 8-bit or 16-bit, what difference does it make, as long as you sample things, because you like what you sample, and create something new out of it. Being interrogated like that, I feel like being accused of making profit of whatever I did wrong…

CHIPFLIP > While Mindflow offers his music for free, and feeding remix culture, you are putting it on vinyl (and supposedly, making atleast some money). You do not share your work for free, even when the 7″ is sold out. Why is that?

WERMUT > Just for the record and for people who might not know what we are talking about here: the 7″ in question was released (not by us) in a 300 copies edition, we haven’t received any money for it but artist copies, as it is usual in the scene we’re involved in, a scene in which, by the way, no big money is made and where one rarely makes any profit at all. We do not receive money for our work as artists, and the little money we earn with our own label is barely enough to pay the production of the next records. So, I don’t think we can talk about profit here!

We make vinyl because we love vinyl, because for us it is the “medium of choice” on which we wish our music to be experienced. As for sharing our work for free on the internet: most of our music is already available for free online on different P2P servers, which we are perfectly happy about, so I don’t see why we should bother doing it ourselves… We have other things to do…. Like making music or, for the reason stated above, earning a living with a tedious job which has nothing to do with music, sampling or anything of that kind…

CHIPFLIP > Earlier you said that there seems to be other motivations than copyright issues. What did you mean by that?

WERMUT > Well, we strongly suspect reasons of a more personal nature behind all this. One more of those silly little vendettas, as they often seem to exist within alternative music scenes. The smaller the scene, the bigger the “clans”. Some people do have a boring life away from the screen.

As far as we are concerned, we use art as a container to transport emotional and spiritual values and we are not very much interested in such materialistic issues as copyright.

We think the whole copyright thing is a chimera, invented by the industry to make even more money than they already do. There is no such thing as true artistic property anyway, meaning the songs we did as WERMUT are not “ours”. The work has been ours, the profit is to the listener… And for God the glory!

That said, steeling other people’s work for personal gain is, obviously, an entirely different matter and we surely don’t condone it. We just don’t believe that copyright can provide a big help.

Interview with SounDemon, the Sound Chip Hacker

July 6, 2009

In November last year I wrote a post about playing music with the graphic (VIC) chip of the C64, aswell as combining 4 channel Amiga MODs with 3 SID-channels. I e-mailed some questions to one of the programmers behind it and I was happy to get a reply from him the other day. : ) SounDemon is what I would call a sound chip hacker, since many of his works are based on exploring undocumented features of the SID-chip and exploit them. These things do not rely on CPU-power to create new sounds, that most music software does. In my opinion this is one of the most hardcore ways of making chip music that is somewhere inbetween hardware and software. For hardcore hardware chip music, I would recommend you to go to Brisbane, Australia right now for EPROM-music. But anyway:

CHIPFLIP > So first just a bit about what you are doing and what you have done in general. Education and stuff.

SOUNDEMON > I’m studying computer science at Abo Akademi in Turku/Finland. At the moment I seem to spend all my time running to choir practices and doing math exercises for school.

CHIPFLIP > How did you get into the SID chip?

SOUNDEMON > I think the first music routine I wrote was for the Dekadence 4kb demo Perkele. BriteLite asked if I could do a tune that was very small, in order to leave room for as many demo effects as possible. The obvious solution to this was to code a custom player. So, I got into writing music routines and by experimenting I somehow managed to invent a few new sound routines.

I must add that I have always liked the idea of programming music. This is the only way to gain full control over the sound. I was inspired by old C64 composers (Galway for example) who had to work this way, before fancy editors were available.

CHIPFLIP > Tell us a bit about your different projects. How did you come up with ‘the new waveform’ in Pico? How did you do it and what does it actually do? Will there be new experiments with the waveform editor?

SOUNDEMON > As with Perkele, we needed a very small tune for Pico (which is also a 4kb demo). I decided to include some metallic drum sounds by using the “testbit trick”. While trying different parameters for the sounds I got some weird pitched sounds. Only after releasing the demo I spent some time analyzing the behaviour of the SID chip to find out how and why the trick works.

The routine works by directing a steady stream of angry bits towards the noise generator of the SID. The result is a confused SID chip playing sounds it’s not supposed to play. For a more technical description see: http://www.dekadence64.org/sidwav.txt

It might be possible to create more sophisticated sounds with this method than has been done so far… (hint hint)

CHIPFLIP > I once heard something about a 2 tone filter (“new waveform”) for the Atari Pokey, but can’t seem to find the information back right now. But have you heard about this?

SOUNDEMON > I’m not sure what this is. I believe most 8 bit sound chips (including the SID) use a shift register based approach for generating noise. This explains why it might be possible to get the same kind of sounds on other machines as well.

CHIPFLIP > Could u tell us a bit about your sample shocks from x2008? How is it possible to play 4 channels of 8-bit samples? And ofcourse, how about the Vic audio?

SOUNDEMON > I must first clarify one thing. In our x2008 demo there’s two new
major routines: A “MOD” player capable of mixing four digi channels AND the 8 bit sample playback routine. These are NOT the same routine, but they can of course be combined as we did.

The MOD player was written by The Human Code Machine. MOD players have been written for C64 before. The one by THCM is special because it actually sounds good and allows the screen to be turned on. (How fun is it to have MODs playing if you can’t display anything on the screen?) It’s based on straightforward code that uses cleverly precalculated tables to do the hard work. Somehow THCM managed to fit these tables and a MOD into 64kb of memory. I still suspect he cheated by hiding a memory expansion
unit inside my C64! (I haven’t found it yet)

The 8 bit sample player was written by me. 8 (and even 12 bit) sample playback has been done on C64 before, but this is the first routine that sounds clear and doesn’t use all raster time.

The VIC audio is just a fun trick. It’s absolutely nothing special codewise. It’s a bit like the 9 sprites on the same raster line trick by xbow where the idea is the achievement, not the actual code. That is why I gave the credit for inventing this technique to AMJ. He came up with the idea and after that the code was done in about 10 minutes.

CHIPFLIP > Do you always use your own software when you make C64 music?

SOUNDEMON > I don’t even have my own software. When using my own routines I just use Turbo Assembler to edit the player source and music data. I seldom reuse a player because they are typically coded for a specific tune. This is of course very time consuming so I do it only when it’s necessary. Usually because of tight size or raster time constraints.

CHIPFLIP > Are there other soundchip hackers that you know of?

SOUNDEMON > What exactly is a sound chip hacker? I like the sound of it, though…

CHIPFLIP > What will be your next shock? :)

SOUNDEMON > I will continue coding on network routines for C64… Something
interesting might result.

CHIPFLIP > Could you give us a few examples of 8-bit code, music, and graphics that you think are special?

SOUNDEMON > I liked Royal Arte by Booze Design a lot. I always liked the flow in
Extremes and Follow The Sign 3 by Byterapers. The 6 sprites over FLI routine by Ninja must be the most insane piece of code ever written.

CHIPFLIP > Do you have anything else you would like to add?

SOUNDEMON > I find it funny how this 8 bit sample routine became such a success.
I have always considered samples on C64 quite boring! Writing a sample player didn’t seem so interesting… But once I got an idea on how to implement the routine I wanted to try it. I guess the result was a bit more exciting than I would have expected…

Finally I must add that the 8 bit samples in Vicious SID wouldn’t have been the same without Mixer. He did an excellent job utilizing the routine! He also spent LOTS of time experimenting with the routine.