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: