Monday, May 9, 2011

Kickin' it to Chiptunes

Man, all this talk about the mechanics of old school video game music, yet hardly any listening of it. Time to change that!

Ever wonder how people on YouTube upload a ton of music from older games? I'll give you a hint: they don't record it from the system itself. In actuality, they're just recording from various sound formats available on the Internet. Today, I'm going to teach you how to play these files, and allow you to enjoy music from practically any older game you desire! Some of you are probably already familiar with this, but for those who aren't, this should prove quite useful.

First off, we're going to need some plugins for our favorite media player. There are a lot, depending on what you want to play, but fortunately some people have made it extremely easy for us. To make this as simple as possible:

Use WinAMP? Install Chipamp: http://www.chipamp.org/
Use Foobar2000? Install Game Emu Player: http://kode54.foobar2000.org/foo_gep.zip

Basically, Chipamp is a package of well-regarded plugins, whereas Game Emu Player is a single plugin that supports a wide variety of files. One really isn't better than the other (although I do feel that SNESamp [included in Chipamp] is a better choice for SNES music, even if it's not as accurate), it just depends on what your preferred media player is. If you don't use either WinAMP or Foobar2000, there are some standalone players out there, although I really can't recommend any off the top of my head.

So now that we've installed a bunch of crap, let's get some music! Probably the best place to start is at good ol' Zophar's Domain: http://www.zophar.net/music.html

Basically, all you do is simply download the file/files, load them up into your media player, and as long as you have the necessary plugin, you'll be good to go. The files are incredibly small, too, making large collections far from a problem.

So now you may be wondering, how the heck does this even work? Well, basically, each file is essentially a frozen image from a rom of the original game. The music is stored into ram, and that part of the rom is captured. The plugin then uses this data to emulate the sound as a traditional emulator would. It's essentially an emulator without the game!

Of course, that raises the question of legality, to which I have some fortunate news. There has never been a request from copyright owners to have any video game chiptunes removed from a particular location. Because it isn't the entire game, it really isn't an issue. Of course, I still encourage the purchasing of original soundtracks (even if some are expensive as hell [Gradius ReBirth]).

One last word for Foobar2000 users: Game Emu Player doesn't support Commodore 64 playback (SID), so you'll need the following plugin if you desire to listen to some C64 music (check out R-Type's port, it's amazing!): http://kode54.foobar2000.org/foo_sid.zip

Other good sites for music:
Hope listening to some of your favorite old tunes elicits some nostalgia in all of you. Maybe you'll find some new music, too. I certainly have (Falsion, Madara, Dezaemon... check 'em out)!

53 comments:

  1. I'll take some time to check all of this out, good work dude :)

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  2. I like the msx music, got myself a emulator! Damn that console was niec

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  3. Freakin awesome , where did you learn about all of this?

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  4. @Pappa Püllï Yeah, the MSX was a really great computer. Tons of great games, Metal Gear 1 & 2, Nemesis II/III (or Gradius II/Gofer no Yabou Episode 2 if you're a purist), and a whole slew of others. Definitely a golden age!

    @VenomForMasses Just sheer curiosity and my love for music, haha. It's why I'm alive, after all!

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  5. Commodore 64 awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww =(

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  6. Megaman music... Worth a million dollars, need to download it

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  7. @SamanthaBlues Gotta get the Mega Man music! Truly some of the best game music ever created.

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  8. I wish they still put music like this into newer games.

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  9. I've always wanted to know how to do this. This blog never disappoints day after day.

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  10. old school game music is the one <3

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  11. Man I love chiptunes. It really makes me feel young again.

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  12. nice post!
    thanks for it!
    follow

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  13. Thanks for sharing all those awesome console links, I will be looking at them for sure. My dad is wasted now. . .

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  14. Interesting post, i will check it out!

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  15. Wow, I know what I'm gonna be doing for most of the day now. Thanks bunches!

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  16. Ya, I have this friend who makes his own music from old gameboy games.

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  17. Super thanks for the information.

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  18. Well thanks I know what I'm doing for the next 3 hours.

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  19. Sweet, thanks for that post man :D

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  20. Nice blog ! I like It ! Follow

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  21. Some of this music brings back such memories..

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  22. Awesome post. I love this music, now I know where to find it. :)

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  23. thanks for sharing the links!

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  24. My extra nerdy friends listen to this stuff. Some of it drives me nuts!

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  25. Great stuff you got here mate.

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  26. When I'm bored I speed up my favorite tunes to Chipmunk mode.

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  27. So awesome....d/ling as I type ^_^.

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  28. Something I had known about for a long long time - Very useful for ripping those tracks from old titles where soundtracks were not so common!

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  29. Hey! Do you know any collections of N64 music? Might not be as old school as NES, but it sure did have some good ones!

    http://awesomeexposed.blogspot.com/ for newest Assassins Creed news, check my new post!

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  30. I love music from the Sega Genesis. Thank you so much for the links.

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  31. Thanks for the list.Some of this music reminds me of my gaming childhood!

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  32. nostalgia'd all over the place, what a mess

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  33. I'll be kicking it to some c64 tunes tonight

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  34. @Loev Not sure why I didn't link to any! Regardless, here you are: http://usf.hcs64.com/

    And you bet it had some good ones. I really enjoyed the music from the two Bomberman 64 games.

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  35. 8-bit music is amazing. Nullsleep is easily one my favorite musical artists, 8-bit or not.

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  36. Music is about the only thing some games have going for them these days

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  37. Wow, this is fascinating stuff I'd never really thought of before. I guess I just sort of took classic game soundtrack rips for granted - when I want to hear the battle theme of Earthbound, its just there, like breathing air!

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