Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back in Time

The 2A03 is an incredibly iconic sound in the world of video game music, but there's one that's just as important yet not as talked about (outside of Europe, at least): the MOS Technology SID. This programmable sound generator was used in the Commodore line of computers, and is essentially responsible for kicking off the Demoscene, an entire sub-cultural movement.

The SID is similar to the NES' 2A03, yet holds its differences. Unlike the 2A03, which has specific waveforms for each channel, the SID presents a bit more flexibility. The programmer has the ability to select which waveform each channel (voice) produces (a total of five), and can modulate the voices together.

Even if you're not familiar with the chip, there's a chance you might have already heard it in some of the music you listen to. The SID chip became popular enough among musicians to warrant Elektron's creation of the SidStation in 1996, a synthesizer based around the SID which continued production for 10 years. Artists such as Zombie Nation and Machinae Supremacy (won't give props to Timbaland due to his blatant plagiarism) have used the SidStation in the production of their music. Zombie Nation's Kernkraft 400 is actually a remix of Stardust from the C64 game Lazy Jones, and Machinae Supremacy uses the SID to embellish their hard rock.

With regard to C64 artists you should check out, definitely anything by Rob Hubbard, Jeroen Tel, and Chris Hülsbeck. There are a plethora of others, but those are definitely the big three. I especially recommend listening to music from Monty on the Run (Rob Hubbard) and the port of R-Type (Jeroen Tel & Ramiro Vaca). See my previous post on how to find this kind of music.

But getting an original SID isn't easy, and the SidStation was incredibly expensive. So, what do you do if you want to create some C64-based music? You turn to the wonderful world of VSTs, of course! There are a metric tonne of VSTs based off of the SID, even commercial products, such as reFX's quadraSID. I can't recommend a good, free C64 VST (due to the sheer number of them), but you can check out this site for a large list.

Sorry if my writing was somewhat dry, today. I was up late hanging out with some friends. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed it, and learned something new!

34 comments:

  1. Thanks for the list. And the knowledge! SidStation rawks.

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  2. I'm like just now starting to go into all this sub culture. Great post, keep it up!

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  3. Great points. awesome blog,

    also: grats with your nr 100!

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  4. Great post. Nice link to the VST list

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  5. Thanks bunches! And still jamming to chiptunes thanks to you.

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  6. Free software links, makes up for any perceived dry writing.

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  7. Blog was great, didn't feel dry at all. Thanks for the info :D

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  8. Haha I remember those games. Classic music when I think about it.

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  9. Glad you guys are enjoying it. Also, I said that the R-Type port was done by Jeroen Tel & Ramiro Vaca. I actually meant Chris Hülsbeck & Ramiro Vaca.

    But if you want to hear some good music by Jeroen Tel, one of my favorites is Outrun Europe. Not to be confused with Outrun Europa, it was a game that was never released, but its music has been leaked anyway.

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  10. That stuff will always be cool!

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  11. Great post, think I'll check that site out lol.

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  12. Thanks for sharing man, this is interesting and I really didn't know anything about this.

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  13. Never heard of this before. I'll have to check it out.

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  14. lol had no idea bout such stuff, gj!

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  15. Loving the blog man, keep it up :)

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  16. Never really knew any of this, very informative.

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  17. I love the music from the R-Type port. Thanks for teaching me something!

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  18. I guess you learn something new everyday!

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  19. Great post mate, keep going this is just great :)

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  20. love it

    check
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xav5p83B6cQ

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  21. im trying to buy an NES on swagbucks xD

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  22. And I keep on learning. Thank you for all the knowledge you are sharing!

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  23. wow man thanks for the info never really thought about the chips much but you really put it in perspective

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