June 12, 2006

Voices of the C64

by Nick Montfort · , 1:08 am

C64 music, live

There’s a nice piece by Karen Collins in Soundscapes, discussing Commodore 64 game music: “Loops and bloops.” The article delves into the SID (Sound Interface Device) in some technical detail, but the thing I found most interesting was the discussion of the influence of another contemporary platform later in the C64′s retail life. The tendency of the Nintendo Entertainment System to have music during gameplay (as opposed to just during the introduction or upon completing a level) is seen to influence the way music was used on the C64. Ben Daglish and Martin Galway (famous C64 composers) are quoted in the piece, looping is discussed at length (as the article’s title suggests), and the freewheeling use of cover songs is described. Thanks to Jesper for mentioning this one.

Fans of such things should check out the blog C64 Music, which covers things like the 2006 tour of Welle:Erdball, a C64-based musical group. The photograph, via this blog, is of this group and was taken by sml!

2 Responses to “Voices of the C64”

  1. mark Says:

    Welle:Erdball is one of the best current synthpop/bitpop/ebm/industrial groups IMO. Not much else to add, but they’re incredibly varied, and far more than just retro chic for its own sake—they’re using the C64 (and other tools, also) to create actually good music.

  2. mark Says:

    After reading the article, I notice they grazed one of the interesting aspects of the C64—the development of a system of music composition based on “modules”—but only kind of mentioned it tangentially, since it really grew into its own as an actual “system” outside of game music. The “tracking” scene turned it into a set of tools, file formats, and culture vaguely similar to the more video-heavy demo scene (many .mod authors were also demoscene folk). That’s also notable for being, as far as I know, the first general-purpose representation for electronic composition that wasn’t limited to just representing note-on/note-off events in predefined voices (as in mechanical piano rolls or MIDI).

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