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Alive 11
ST 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" :)

Chip Music
        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
        it somehow.

        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

Conversion Method #1
        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.

Conversion Method #2
        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.

Conversion Method #3
        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 if you would like to
        download them and want to make up your mind.

ST 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

        Airball                     8/10

        Union Loader                7/10

        Leaving Teramis             6/10

        Syntax Terror Loader        5/10

        Le 5eme Axe                 4/10

Final Words
        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
        tunes ;)

                                            Chemmad for Alive, 2005-10-26
Alive 11