How To Make 8-Bit Music: An Introduction To FamiTracker

nes-systemIn this post, guest author Joe E. Allen takes a look at making 8-bit music with FamiTracker  – a free windows tracker for producing music for the NES/Famicom-systems.

How To Make 8-Bit Music:
An Introduction To FamiTracker

In this series, I’ll be introducing programs that you can use to make music on old video game consoles, or more specifically, the sound chips found inside these machines.

Each of these programs can be learned using information and tutorials found online – so through this series, I hope to simply offer an overview of the software/hardware in question and the artists that use it. Perhaps this will whet your appetite and encourage you to learn more in your own time.


One of the best places to start is the Nintendo Entertainment System, above, or the Famicom, right, as it was known in Japan.

The NES redefined the home console experience when it was rolled out across the globe in the 1980s, and these days its sound chip (commonly known as the 2A03) enjoys a prominent role as one of the most popular tools for making chiptune/8-bit music. And one of the most popular ways to program this chip is with FamiTracker. Continue reading

Game Of Thrones Theme On 8-Bit NES Keytar! Plus – Friggin’ MIDI-Controlled Lasers!

This video, via Greig (Theremin Hero), captures an 8-bit NES Keytar performance of the Game Of Thrones theme – with MIDI-controlled lasers.

Greig’s NESKeytar is a cross between an original Nintendo console, a Guitar Hero controller and a miniature toy keyboard. The hybrid instrument fully utilities the NES sound chip to produce lo-fi arpeggios, heard in this tribute to the theme of Game of Thrones. Continue reading

Ninstrument Intros MCTRL – A MIDI Controlled NES Gamepad


Ninstrument’s Chris Blarsky contacted us to let us know about the new MCTRL – a MIDI-controlled NES Gamepad.

Why would you want a MIDI-controlled NES Gamepad?

There are many homebrew audio/video titles for the NES that can’t easily be synced with a traditional DAW or MIDI keyboard/device. The MCTRL (pronounced M-CONTROL) incorporates MIDI In, Thru & Out – making it easy to integrate the NES into your MIDI setup.


Continue reading

Free Music From The Electric Witch

Reader Zac Bentz let us know about a couple of new albums released by his project The Electric Witch.

  • Assassin is an album of dark synthpop originals with vocalist Marcus Matthews; and
  • NEScapism is a collection of Nintendo covers. Bentz notes, “These are the songs that I would let play over and over, ignoring whatever might have been happening on-screen.”

On both albums, Bentz makes extensive use of iPad synths, including Animoog, DM1 and Sunrizer, along with some microKorg vocoding.

The albums are available now for $1 or more. You can stream them for free via the links above, and Bentz has released a free track for each album.

You can download a free track from Assassin, the title track, above.

Continue reading

NESynth Gets MIDI Support


NESynth – a synthesizer that recreates the ‘8 bit sound of video games in the 80’s’ – has been updated with MIDI support.

New in NESynth 1.6:

  • CoreMIDI is supported. ?iOS4.2 or later )
  • Supported MIDI interface
    • YAMAHA i-MX1
  • Supported USB MIDI keyboard(iPad only)
    • KORG nanoKEY
  • Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit is required to connect a USB MIDI keyboard.
  • Connection with a MIDI network is possible via WiFi from MAC.

NES Controller To CV Interface Lets You Control Your Expensive Modular With A Cheap Game Controller

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This is a sneak preview of an upcoming NES controller to CV interface. 

The NES controller to CV interface will let you control your expensive modular synth with a cheap game controller.

Awesomely geeky? Continue reading

New Cartridge, BeatBox, Turns Nintendo Into A Drum Machine

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Here’s a preview of Beatbox – a new cartridge that turns a Nintendo into a playable drum machine.

Features include:

  • Ability to play live and record Drum Loops & Fills.
  • Each Loop or Fill can contain up to 99 key presses.
  • 4 Recordable Drum Loops
  • 2 Recordable Drum Fills
  • 2 Drum Kits, 8 samples each
  • 4 Sample Frequencies
  • TV or Monitor is not required.
  • Works with original Nintendo controllers
Beatbox is available now for $49.99.

Chip Maestro NES MIDI Synthesizer Cartridge

Chip Maestro – a new project to develop a NES MIDI Synthesizer Cartridge – is fully funded and under development.

Here’s how developer Jarek Lupinski describes the project:

I am prototyping, designing and assembling a special cartridge called Chip Maestro which can be used in any Nintendo Entertainment System. This cartridge will accept a MIDI input from any instrument, and by passing the MIDI notes through the NES, the cartridge will make the NES synthesize 8-bits of awesome in true NES squarewavey goodness.

See the video for more details!

The project has 260 backers and has raised $15,045 of a $1,150 goal, demonstrating that there’s a lot of interest in a NES MIDI Synth.

The Chip Maestro is still under development. You can follow development at Lupinski’s Kickstarter site.

via getlofi