Chip Tune Remixes
[ R e v i e w ]
Hey folks let's introduce a new contributor to Alive magazine.
Of course I am talking about an Atarian from a really flat
country which is also famous for its cheese (the country not the
guy, of course :). He will write a bit about some cheesy tunes
so he could be considered an expert. Ladies (hmmm, hi Ripley,
hey Mermaid, yo Sarah, I hope I didn't forgot somebody :) and
gentlemen, let me introduce the flYMing dutchman: "Chemmad".
Here he comes...
Hi sceners, this review covers the remixes of some classic ST
chip tunes, which have been made available on the web by a guy
called Herakles and seem to be created by different guys, one of
the called Mordicus. Before I go into the details about each
track let me tell you about my opinions on chip music and its
relationship to "normal" music. Besides I can offer you a guide
about "how to create a chiptune remix for dummies" :)
Like lots of other sceners I have some strange habits, one of
them is my addiction to chip music. Listening to my STFM was and
is always a pleasure to me, especially because I recognize all
kinds of musical styles within those chip-tunes. I am convinced
you can find the rhythm and the sounds, which were used in a lot
of 80s pop songs, in STFM tunes as well. So what's the point in
creating computer music? What makes people avoid these kick ass
midi instruments you can use today and stick to the capabilities
of a tiny chip instead? It can't be the sound processors.
Especially our beloved YM-2149 has always been pure shit. It was
solely the fantasy of the musicians in composing and the will to
get the best result out of the limited possibilities of the poor
hardware which carried the spirit of chip music. With today's
equipment everything sounds fat somehow, it's not very hard to
create a cool track, but with the limitations of a single chip
like the YM it is can be considered an art to create something
cool. Of course, chip music has evolved a lot from the first
lame blipps and blopps too today's advanced tunes which can
hardly be distinguished from current electronic tunes,
especially since chipmusic seems to influence even mainstream
titles in a very subtle way. If you love computer music you will
surely know what makes it stand out of the mass. If not, well I
suggest you check it out for yourself and open your ears to the
wonderful world of chip-tunes.
What are Remixes?
I am pretty confident everybody already knows what a remix is,
however just to make sure (and to increase the size of this
article) I will try to explain it for the ones who have no idea
:). Basically a remix can be anything that can be created based
on another song or even a couple of them. A remix can vary in
speed, instruments and can also cross whole music genres; in
some remixes you can hardly recognize the original while others
stay quite close to it. In our case chip music is converted to
real instruments. Creating such a remix can be considered real
art. Especially the seemingly simple task of finding and
choosing the right instruments is really difficult, because chip
instruments don't have the characteristic and easy recognisable
differences of classic instruments like eg. a flute or a horn.
Also recomposing the tune needs some skill if you want to
produce a good imitation or design containing multiple sound
Now you want to create your own remix and you wonder how it can
be done? First of all you have to get into the original track,
you might want to extract the notes with some tool or tracker or
perhaps just try to replay it. Once you have the extracted or
replayed the notes you have at least two options. You can either
join a band, and practise until you can perform it live, or you
can set up the sequencer of your personal choice along with some
MIDI equipment to create one voice after another until the track
is converted. However in the end you might want to record your
remix to some kind of audio file like MP3 or OGG and distribute
For me slow organ tunes seem to be a good choice if you are
searching for a tune to create a remix. Especially tunes that
contain organ-sounds, which can be created easily with the YM in
a loose and, maybe, somewhat reckless way, are good candidates
for a conversion. There are some nice haunted spooky melodies
available on the ST, like the ones in "Haunted House" (a
shareware game) or some of the tunes of the "Addams Family"
game. Of course there are several ways to start a remix of an YM
tune, for example you could try it like one of the following
Just create that kind of spooky pipe organ effect you hear in
classic black and white films especially in scenes where ghost
and graveyards occur and you might already have something
sounding quite nice.
It is also amazing that sometimes the YM-chip can be
approximated by an electric piano sound. A bass guitar usually
does a good job when it comes to covering the lower tones and
you might also try to improve your song by putting a heavier
bass- and snare-drum on it.
Another try might be to start off with creating the happy bass
lines; we are all so familiar with on the ST, which remind me a
lot of the Gigi D'Agostino "L'amour Toujours" (2001) alike
songs. Add some harp like arpeggios' and you're done.
Of course there are lots of other possible instrument choices
especially if you want to create something completely new based
upon an ST chip-tune. However let's now progress to the review
of the bunch of MP3 files that was made available to the public
by this Herakles guy. You can find the tunes for free at
http://files.dhs.nu/mpeg/st_remixes/ if you would like to
download them and want to make up your mind.
Chip Tune Remixes
"Leaving_Teramis Space Ship Sequence" by Mordicus (5:34)
This tune came along with an earlier bunch of the tunes, which
was brought to the public by Herakles, perhaps in an early
unfinished state. It starts off with some part that sounds
disturbingly like the "Twilight Zone" TV series title melody
interleaved with some part that reminds me of the sounds the
snake-charmers produced in a Sega Mega-Drive game called
"Leaving_Teramis Final" by Mordicus (5:34)
This version of the tune uses a different set of instruments and
it reminds me a lot of those dark themes about graveyards and
ghosts (like given in conversion method 1). And perhaps there is
also a slight resemblance with the didgeridoo of the Australian
Aboriginals. However it also starts with that "Twilight Zone"
reminder and transforms into a nice sexy rhythm after
approximately two and a half minute.
"Syntax Terror Demo (Loader)" by Unknown (2:18)
This track is a good example for the second case, it features
some drums, and a strange organ, which I somehow dislike,
perhaps because it's simply too loud. In fact it spoils an
otherwise cool conversion; I wish I had the midi files to change
"The Union Demo Loader" by Unknown (3:04)
I can remember the union demo quite well and I have to confess
that for this track conversion method #2 has worked very well.
IMHO this remix is really like a remix of a chiptune should be,
the way it is meant to be. However there is one major downside
on that track. It's pretty repetitive, because the original tune
is just a short loop. It would have been nice to vary the main
theme a bit and to stretch it with some modifications.
"Le 5eme Axe" by Unknown (2:03)
Now this is a pretty nice example for conversion method #1,
however in my opinion it would have been much better to use
another instrument because the whole tune doesn't sound like a
chiptune anymore. Honestly I have to admit It's not my type of
song at all, I think it's rather distasteful.
"Airball" by Unknown (3:03)
Since I am doing a review on other people's tunes, so I am not
really supposed talking about my own compositions, but I have to
admit that I like happy tunes. You really have to put this kind
of short happy songs into your play list containing only one
number. You feel like you have invented a ring tone like Crazy
Frog. Just in case you know who I am, I have created such a tune
at Outline 2004, together with Cerror. We made an Amiga four
channel module named "Chemmad-Cerror Easter-Beaver Song". This
style approximates the one I mentioned in conversion method 3.
However I really like the melody and it's a really nice
conversion preserving the original sound quite well.
Leaving Teramis Final 10/10
Union Loader 7/10
Leaving Teramis 6/10
Syntax Terror Loader 5/10
Le 5eme Axe 4/10
Last not least let me thank a few people. Hey Cyclone, thanks a
lot for letting to write something for the Alive Magazine, it's
always an honour :). I also wish to express my thanks to the
creators of the remixes. Thanks for the pleasure you gave me
while listening to your tunes. And for those whose tunes I
disliked: Hey you can always pay me back by reviewing my own
Chemmad for Alive, 2005-10-26