10 thoughts on “How 8-Bit Music Worked

  1. I used to play with various tracking programs while in highschool. i thought they were rad, but didn’t really understand what i was doing. I remember loading in a lot of images into the samples to get weird trashy glitches.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLJSdNYcdpk

      imo opl3 is more interesting.

      get in on midiboxFM /sammichFM preorder so they can start shipping! 🙂 http://www.midibox.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=sammichfm

      i run an old laptop with real opl3 and ad-lib tracker II http://www.adlibtracker.net (supposedly can do midi but i’ve not figured it out) once you get your head around it you can do some pretty interesting things with it’s FM and sequencer implementation that it’s a shame yamaha (or anyone else really) never developed further, cool additive, macros, ‘preset’ sounds and so on. it’s noisy coming out of laptop, but sounds nice sampled and so on. even worthwhile running emulated/dosbox imo. 🙂

  2. Here you go mate:

    Synths that use the YM3812:

    Yamaha PSR-11 49-keys 16-sounds (1986)
    Yamaha PSR-12 49-keys 32-sounds (1987)
    Yamaha PSR-31 61-keys 16-sounds, additional chip for drums (1991)
    Yamaha PSR-32 61-keys 32-sounds, additional chip for drums (1987)
    Yamaha PSS-460 49-keys 21-sounds (1986)
    Yamaha PSS-470 49-keys 21-sounds (1987)
    Yamaha PSS-560 49-keys 21-sounds, additional chip for drums (1986)
    Yamaha PSS-570 49-keys 21-sounds, additional chip for drums (1987)

  3. There are all sorts of fun carts you can get to turn old video game systems into synthesizers!

    Currently in my collection I have:

    Pulsar for the NES

    Synthcart for Atari 2600

    Cynthcart, Prophet64, and Retroskoii+ for the Commodore 64


    LSDJ for Nintendo Gameboy, (plus several other ROM carts, shitwave, musictech, etc.)

    fyi there’s a huge community out there for musicians into this stuff and it’s called “chiptune “and you should check it out if you’ve never heard of it!

  4. I don’t have any personal experience with the C64, but I thought what made it appealing to people was that it could do ring modulation between the VCOs and the arpeggiator went into audio rate.

    1. I don’t believe the SID chip had an arpeggiator. How fast you could change the registers of the SID depended on the speed of your 6502 code. If you turned off interrupts and sat in a tight loop, you could change things pretty fast, but that’s not how game songs worked–they were probably mostly using the vertical blank interrupt to change things (that’s 50Hz or 60Hz, I guess, depending on whether your display was PAL or NTSC). At least that’s how I did it when I did game music on the 64.

    2. The SID had lots of cool features. It had 3 onboard ADSRs, a multimode (LPF/BPF/HPF) resonant analog filter, ring mod, sync, pulse width, external audio/analog input. Functionally it’s a 3-oscillator synth voice on a chip, but the oscillators can be played separately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *