The music of my favorite video games sticks with me wherever I go now. On the way to work, or vacuuming the floors at home I can now listen to electric steps to my favorite game tunes with the help of modern technology. One particular musical taste gamers cannot get enough of, that ushers sounds and melodies akin to early video games,is now a widely developed music style commonly known style as “8bit” or “chiptune”. Musical and visual artists have dedicated their work to emulate- and expand their love for the early video game aesthetics with the new 8bit trends.
A collective of chip tune artists from the early 2000’s known as 8bitpeoples started to share their personalized music created with the aural bleeps and crashes of early video games on their own site. Listeners quickly recognize the authentic tones from early consoles such as Atari 2600, Vetrex, Coleco Vision, NES, and Genesis. If you read their mission statement it is clear that the music posted there for their listeners is free of charge. A project done purely for fun’s sake, not profit. In time, a large amount of guests were featured on the website too, besides the 10 founding crew members. Including Anamanguchi, Firebrand Boy, and Sabrepulse. These and many others are early founders of blip music.
The latest post by 8bitpeoples on their free-chiptune site was on August of 2012, almost one year ago. Telling their fans that upcoming Blip Fest 2012 will be the last performance of the chip tune based concert tour after seven successful years.
But, unlike Blip Fest, the 8bitpoeples website is still active. The shop is still printing out T-shirts and selling old Blip Fest DVDs. They’re even pushing a Christmas album, so any gamer can be fully equipped for the holiday season. On the left side of the homepage, new releases of chip tune albums and EP’s are still being posted to the website, “Sorry about any perception of inactivity,” says Joshua Davis a.k.a BitShifter, “ but we’ve actually been getting back to releasing music on 8bitpeoples over the last couple of months, with new releases by Poke-1,170, Radlib, and Sulumi. ”
Careful attention would note that there are no dates attributed to any music posts on the website, however frequent. The news feed has not seen any attention for some time, but 8bitpoeples have moved posts to Twitter. There, they are continuing to announce both news and music releases.
In contrast to 8bit, the music straight from a video game is often on loop and production value is at an expected caliber. That’s not to say the musical composition of games today are uninspired, quite the contrary. But to many songs, being included a game renders them in a more background-specific quality. When I listen to a video game track and remember the moments attached to them, real or in-game, only then do I appreciate what the music has done for me; chances are I will continue to equate the song to those experience too, until it has become completely integrated with the rest of my music.
During game play, when I hear a song first, I may find it exciting,new and fun; but it is not until that first exposure that compels me to look up the song online. It is not likely that I would download the music of an unfamiliar game the same way I would for an unfamiliar musical artist. Listening to video game music from a game I have never played seems like cooking a foreign meal by myself from a country I only just heard about. Who know if I’m getting it right? Could it be that I am not appreciating this taste as much because I am unfamiliar? What if I enjoy it more? I have a new experiment.
Chiptune artists have bridged this divide with experimentation in their work. Some examples are: lyrics in their music, a wider variety of sound samples not limited to any particular console, and less emphasis on repetition. At first, the heavily synthesized melodies of Chiptune can be difficult to appreciate for extended periods. Ears drums will ring with uniquely stylized crashes or blip sequences of those who listen. Chiptune is still a somewhat new experimentation and is not insured as soft or harmonious. Before, there was a game to push us in and out of focus with the ongoing music, here, it stands on its own; and is certainly not upstaged.
The production is without any expected value and tracks can last way longer than the average one or two minuet mark of a song featured in a fully developed video game. Chip tunes artists are also adding their own tastes into their work like folksy acoustic guitars, swooping dub-step bass lines, voice samples, game samples, and musical lyrics.
Beyond 8bitpeoples, there is ChipMusic.org and the impressive Chiptune.com, the former is more centralized on exposure with sound cloud link to every song, and the latter requires time to get used to the unique file formats; each original to the respected game console’s design. Audio Overload, a simple program plays these unusual files well, but finding the music can be a chore first. Chiptune.com has a web-outfit that is heavily geared towards the old-school DOS home screen. But has been operating since 1999, and continues to post material.
I ask any gamer that has already taken the liberty of downloading their favorite game music off the web, to visit 8bitpeoples or any of these sites and check out the excellent sounds you may not realize you have missed. After a week anyone’s ears will be on an acceptable frequency ready to experience 8bit, and enjoyment of the once archaic and stiff chiming of late 80’s consoles can last life-long. Seriously, go do it, and allow yourself to reconnect and explore at the same time, with nostalgic instruments and new composer. Musicians too who enjoy video games can look into these websites for finding the right hardware and software to make their own chiptune.
Chiptune is a genre of music that is gaining popularity, but will these authentic video-game tones will be seen past the internet? Who knows, but here’s hoping.