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.

My Computer Chronicles, Part 5

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This is part 5 in a 5-part series about my computer chronicles, right from the beginning of the 80’s to the end of the 90’s. I’ll go into details about the computers I used, how I got into the C64 demo scene, created my music players and editors, and the experiences I had on the way until the turn of the millennium.

Part 1 is here in case you missed it.

AdLib

At some point during 1991, I got a 33 MHz 80386 PC as payment for doing the Hugo sound work for SilverRock Productions. As soon as I got it, the C64 already started to fade into the background. It was cutting edge at the time, with a whopping 89 MB hard disk (my first hard disk ever), 5 MB RAM, a Sound Blaster card and of course a CRT color monitor on top of a hideous desktop box equipped with a digital MHz display, a 3½” floppy drive and a turbo button I rarely used.

I was instantly attracted by the Sound Blaster sound card and its AdLib FM chip. I wanted to code for it immediately. It actually didn’t take me long to learn how to code on the PC. Even though it was a 80386, everybody said that it was prudent to stick with 8086 code and that meant having to juggle with awkward 64 KB segments for code and data. For games this could be a problem, but it was good enough for testing how to code simple things and of course music players. For coding, I used Borland Turbo Assembler along with QEdit for editing the source codes. At this point it was all DOS mode only.

QEdit (Top)QEdit (Editing)

Getting hold of documentation about the Sound Blaster card was actually quite difficult in 1991. I searched for a long time before I finally got wind of a book in a small computer shop in a village further north on the island of Zealand. It was expensive and came in a box from which I pulled out sort of a small binder. It was unlike any other manual I had seen before for developing software. Things obviously worked differently on the PC. But the manual was a good investment. It had all the information I needed and soon I was testing the basic FM sounds of the AdLib chip. It also had data about programming the DSP on the Sound Blaster card for playing samples, something I would also make use of later.

My Computer Chronicles, Part 4

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This is part 4 in a 5-part series about my computer chronicles, right from the beginning of the 80’s to the end of the 90’s. I’ll go into details about the computers I used, how I got into the C64 demo scene, created my music players and editors, and the experiences I had on the way until the turn of the millennium.

Part 1 is here in case you missed it.

Snail mail

One of the best things about the C64 demo scene in 1988-92 was the way we swapped with each other all over Europe. Of course a ladder of recognition was in place. You had a much greater chance of swapping with the awesome guys if you had something to show for it yourself. Climbing the ladder and getting the best swapping partners meant trying to create better demos and smaller cracks. Newcomers (usually the youngest kids) that failed to impress anyone were often condescendingly called lamers.

It was something you wouldn’t want to be called, yet most of us started as one.

Being the network it literally was, getting the reputation of producing good stuff and being a nice guy earned you more connections. More people wanted to swap with you, improving the chance and speed of spreading your work. For the groups that prioritized cracks, it was about being the fastest and also having the smallest version of a game. The game might have a copy protection that was hard to crack. There was also some prestige in showing that your group can do that anyway. A smaller version meant having access to (or being able to code) a packer that could compress better than others. For demo groups, being able to break a new technical record or show a new type of awesome effect earned respect. A large part of this network was governed by this air of competition which by itself kept it alive and fast.

Snail Mail Letters

But the swapping also spawned camaraderie, giving it sort of a pen pal spin where nice letters were written, discussing everything related to the scene.

My Computer Chronicles, Part 3

Read more “My Computer Chronicles, Part 3”

This is part 3 in a 5-part series about my computer chronicles, right from the beginning of the 80’s to the end of the 90’s. I’ll go into details about the computers I used, how I got into the C64 demo scene, created my music players and editors, and the experiences I had on the way until the turn of the millennium.

Part 1 is here in case you missed it.

More connections

My swapping friend Kim knew a mate from school that was a member of the Amiga group Channel 42, and soon I had also established connections with them. Although they were strictly demo coders on Amiga, they respected what the C64 could do. In fact, both Niels and Morten were both very easy going and observant, often pointing out the little details in demos on both computers. Morten would later turn out to be a skilled programmer, coding games on Amiga and consoles, while Niels was a graphics artist that knew how to draw inviting cartoon characters. They themselves broadened my connections further as they too knew a lot of other fellow wizards. Niels and Morten would also later be important as they got involved in computer games for Danish television. More about that later in this part.

Niels Krogh Mortensen
Niels in my room, probably around 1991. He later founded Krogh Mortensen Animation in 1997.

Kim, Scorpio and I created a C64 division of Channel 42 and I left Dominators to join it. Niels even created a few logos for C64 intros coded by Scorpio.

Towards the end of March 1989, I went to the Ikari & Zargon party in Slagelse. I had just converted a pop hit by Sandra to my NewPlayer on C64 and it was used in a demo by Ikari. This was a shared Amiga and C64 party, and the Channel 42 guys introduced me to Jesper Kyd. He was still learning the ropes at this point, but I noticed that he shared the same penchant for being observant and eager to learn when listening to MOD tunes on Amiga. He got hold of a new one at the party and it was interesting to see the way he immediately zoned in listening to it, concentrating intensely on how it was composed.