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.

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.

The Early AdLib and Sound Blaster Music

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This blog post contains my early AdLib music from 1991-93. Most of it are conversions from SID tunes on the Commodore 64. These were painstakingly transferred using a basic converter program, after which I had to spread arpeggio chords into real channel chords since AdLib had three times as many channels as the SID chip did. In some cases I even added a tenth Sound Blaster channel with sampled drums.

The editing was mostly done directly in the assembler listings except for a few of my own test tunes which was done in a prototype music editor that would eventually become EdLib. You won’t need an emulator plugin to play the tunes – they have all been saved as MP3 for easy listening.

The Alibi (AdLib)
March 1992 C64
Converted from Laxity’s original C64 tune. This is the standard AdLib version.

The Alibi (Sound Blaster)
March 1992 C64
Converted from Laxity’s original C64 tune. This version features a tenth channel with digi drums.

Colgate – Title Music
December 1991
Converted from Drax’s original C64 tune composed for the game.

Lollypop AdLib Music

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In 1994, the side-scrolling 2D platform game Lollypop was released for DOS, and in 1995 for Amiga. It was developed by Brain Bug and released by Rainbow Arts, featuring music and sound effects by Vibrants.

lollypop_title_screenlollypop_main_menu

This blog post contains all the AdLib music made for the DOS version, saved as MP3 for easy listening. Most of it was composed by Thomas Mogensen (Drax) and Torben Hansen (Metal) in EdLib.

The peripheral tunes made use of all nine channels that the OPL2 chip supported. However, the level tunes only made use of five to make room for the sound effects in the remaining four channels.

Peripheral tunes

Title Tune
1993-94 Vibrants

Hiscore
1993-94 Vibrants

Congratulations
1993-94 Vibrants