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Old Jun 21, 2009, 10:34 PM
ORL13 ORL13 is offline
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Default Curious about vgmusic creation

How exactly was older vg music created, like on sega, nes and snes? For instance, when Koji Kondo sat down to record the music for super mario world what did he use and how did he record it? Did he just use a synth? I've always been curious about that and thought maybe someone here might know...

Also does anybody know any good programs or methods for making classic video game sounding music? I'm pretty much a n00b at this and would love to know where to start
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Old Jun 22, 2009, 05:19 PM
PhantomSnake PhantomSnake is offline
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I believe they used trackers, which means that the music was "programmed" by hand on a computer. For example, in OCR's interview with David Wise, Wise mentions that "there was no MIDI, instead, notes were entered data style into a PC. I typed in hex numbers for pitch and length and a few commands for looping subroutines. And this method of writing video game music continued right through to the end of the SNES development."

As for making classic sounding music today, I hear FamiTracker is pretty good for NES chiptunes. FM8 can be configured to create a good approximation of the Genesis sound. Not sure about the SNES.
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Old Jun 23, 2009, 01:31 PM
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zinger zinger is offline
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The tracker originates from Europe (mid 80's Amiga scene) and has never been widespread outside of the European scene until much later, as far as I know.

In any case: You should look into specific developers and their sound engines / development kits if you want to know exactly how those soundtracks were made. You also have to know about different methods of sound synthesis and which chips are fitted in what systems. Super Famicom's chip for instance, was purely sample based (recorded sound), while Mega Drive used a combination of FM/PCM and PSG. These are wildly different means of producing sound.

Some of the development kits were MIDI based, but often they had to code by hand (no dedicated music software at all (like trackers), though in some cases with a simplified music language, like MML). There are also cases were composers who wrote the score in a MIDI environment first (or even music sheets) and then let a programmer do the sound design (by coding the music for a specific chip).

As for composing for old systems today, there are often many alternatives. Just google away, find some chip music community or whatever.
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Old Jun 23, 2009, 04:06 PM
Cedille Cedille is offline
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If you want to know what was composing VGM in the early days, let's experience MML. It's more like programming. I know little about Super Mario World anecdote, but I think when Koji Kondo came up with that melody, he or the programmer typed the program and made it run on the PSG synthesizer of NES. Genesis had an FM synthesizer, and the composition process wouldn't be so different.

SNES and most post SNES, on the other hand, supported PCM (=a sampler) and it appears there already existed an tool to convert general MIDI sequence data to those of their own format. As such, not a few composers would compose music outside of the console, and then managed to make it fit in the limited memory space. The music of today’s' console like DS is still handled in the same way.

I'll fix or elaborate this already pretty mistake-filled post later.
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Old Jun 23, 2009, 05:29 PM
ORL13 ORL13 is offline
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thanks for the replies. This is all very interesting... I may try some tracker programs
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