SID Musicians

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I was reading this thread on the Commodore 64 forum Lemon 64, and it had me pondering what I thought of the SID musicians back when I was JCH of Vibrants.

I was a coder and musician myself on the C64 and often paying attention to other composers, both to the technical side of things as well as the music itself. It was important to keep track of the competition to see if there were new tricks, styles, sounds or techniques to pick up on.

At the end of the day we all needed inspiration.

So, what did I think of the other top dog C64 musicians back in the 80’s and 90’s?

The Later AdLib Music by Vibrants

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This blog post contains the later AdLib music from 1993-94 by Thomas Mogensen, Jesper Olsen, Torben Hansen and Morten Sigaard Kristensen. Most of it was composed in EdLib, an editor I wrote that used the same track editing system as my Commodore 64 editor.

EdLib (Editing)EdLib (Instruments)

In addition to composing a few test tunes in EdLib, Jesper Olsen also wrote his very own AdLib player and composed tunes for it in an assembler listing. These tunes are also included below.

You won’t need an emulator plugin to play the tunes – they have all been saved as MP3 for easy listening.

Game Boy Music by Drax

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Thomas Mogensen not only composed a ton of awesome C64 tunes, he also composed for a few Game Boy Color games in the late 90’s. This page contains all the work he has done, including demo tunes.

The process of creating these tunes actually began in FastTracker 2. Thomas composed the tunes using samples from a Game Boy Color. The saved XM files were then converted to Game Boy Color binaries using a tool coded by Thomas Egeskov Petersen. The Game Boy Color hardware has two square wave channels, one wave channel, and one noise channel, but note that most in-game level tunes only use two voices.

Everything has been converted from the original XM files to MP3 for easy listening.

3SID: C64 SID Music in 9 Voices

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While 2SID tunes – SID tunes with 6 voices – are fairly common in the High Voltage SID Collection, 3SID tunes with 9 voices are somewhat of a rarity. I just found out today that there’s not a lot of SID emulators that support them either. SidPlay as well as XMPlay with a SID plug-in refused to play any of them.

Rolf Greven, who compiles the binaries for the Mac version of CheeseCutter, converted all he could find in HVSC update #66 to MP3 files in March 2017. He has given me permission to list them in this blog post. Rolf converted them from three 8580 SID chips playing through HardSID with no post processing.

For me, quite a few of those 3SID tunes sometimes sound like AdLib tunes. There was one 3SID tune where the third SID was only used at few bars throughout the tune just to emphasize percussion by adding some sort of echo to the percussion from one of the other SID chips. I needed to listen to these 3SID tunes a few times before I got rid of the idea that most of them probably also could have been done with two or even one SID chip.Rolf Greven

The playlist have tunes from Mihály Horváth from Hungary (Hermit, the coder of SID-Wizard), Gaetano Chiummo from Italy, and Jake Manley (Jellica).

Yamaha CP

Yamaha Reface CP

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After creating my first SID tune in 25 years, I knew I had to get some sort of keyboard to test out leaders and chords. I didn’t want to get a big one as I didn’t have much room on my desk, and I didn’t expect to spend hours solely performing on it as I’m not brilliant at that anyway. A tiny one just to test out stuff would be just fine with me.

Luck had it that just a few streets away from my workplace in the center of Copenhagen, there was a renowned keyboard shop with tons of keyboards of all types and sizes. After checking things out for a while, I quickly decided not to get a small MIDI keyboard. These kinds of things tend to want an external sound source and I wanted it to have its own sound and loudspeakers.

Yamaha CP Unboxed

That’s when the new Yamaha Reface series caught my eyes.

Old C64/PC Player/Editor Notes

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While researching and compiling notes, papers and timelines for my 5-part series about my computer chronicles, I scanned a lot of old notes I made back in the 80’s and 90’s for my music players and editors on C64 and PC. There are also a few letters and other interesting tidbits as well. I didn’t find a place to include them in the chronicles but I thought I wouldn’t want to let the scanning go to waste, so here they are.

Unfortunately a lot of the ideas are almost solely in Danish. I apologize for not translating it, but it would have been a mammoth task. A few letters and an article are in English, though. There are five separate galleries, so remember to scroll down to start the next one.

I’m not sure how useful this is to anyone else but me – but for what it’s worth, here they are.

The Road to my First SID Tune in 25 Years

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Publishing my Computer Chronicles lately gave me a lot of positive response and it dawned on me how much the C64 scene still remembered and respected me for the editor and music I did back in the day. Not that I had been totally oblivious to it. That has been almost impossible on Facebook. I now have more than 750 friends there, and of course most of them have befriended me because of my past on the C64. I have been practically dragged into several C64 and Amiga Facebook groups, whether I wanted to or not. I just accepted it. Maybe there would be some nostalgia to check up on from time to time.

All these years, however, I always considered the C64 a thing of the past. A closed chapter. Now we have computers that are so much faster and produce so much better material, it’s not even funny. I considered the C64 a product of its time and instead spent my years making web sites and playing a ton of PC games. I had high hopes for some of the web sites and fan game sections I wrote, but none of them created much of a stir. It was pretty much letdown after letdown. There were a few dedicated visitors, but actually spawn discussions and spreading the word all around? Almost non-existent.

Just rolling tumbleweeds.

Especially my latest endeavor, the GameDeed web site, was almost always a major disappointment. I was actually arrogant enough to believe that a table layout would make it a strong contender among the likes of Backloggery and Howlongtobeat. Instead it immediately went for a small niche corner with less than half a dozen visitors per day. I even tried to fix this several times. Maybe if I added Steam synchronization? No? Perhaps if I added an export function? Still nothing? Then how about if I add a ton of C64 games?

Epiphanies

All these fiascos really got to me in the end and I finally decided to freeze all further development on the GameDeed web site. I played some more PC games instead and wrote a lot of blog posts about them, but again the feedback was somewhat sparse.

The hell with it, I then thought. Now I’ll do something for myself for once.