Archive for the ‘Chipsound music’ Category

YM heaven in the net

May 15, 2010

A new ambitious project was released in the web some weeks ago called Atari Music Network (AMN). We would like to talk with Donovan Logan about the past the present and the future of it.

LR: Could you please introduce yourself?

DL: Gladly! But first, I’d like to thank you for this interview opportunity and your interest in the Atari Music Network. This is my first public interview, so I’m very honored.

My name is Donovan Logan. I lived in Toronto, Canada for nearly all 30 years of my life until recently when I immigrated to the USA to get married. Now I live in the beautiful mountain town of Asheville, NC. It’s definitely been a culture shock – especially since the Asheville Craigslist hasn’t had a single Atari listed since I arrived last year! 😉

LR: What was you first Atari and when do you get in in touch with music on the Atari?

DL: I studied piano/keyboard from the age of four straight through to University. I fell in love with the Atari in grade 7 when my school invested in an entire Atari 1040 ST MIDI studio for $4000. All had at that time was a Tandy TRS-80 and my classroom’s C64 which I brought home on weekends to compose an arpeggiated, three-channel chiptune and light-show on using Basic. The thought of owning a real, genuine Atari seemed impossible; I literally waited years to save enough money from odd-jobs to buy a smokey-yellow Atari 1040 STFM when I was 16 in 1996. Now, I own three modded Atari Falcons that read SD and CF cards and connect to a 22″ flat screen and mint condition Roland and Yamaha analog synths! It’s my dream come true! To read my full-length, extremely humorous and somewhat perverted Atari story, visit this link: [2]. You can also write your own nostalgic Atari story there too!

LR: How would you describe the AMN in a few words?

DL: The Atari Music Network (AMN) promotes and celebrates Atari MIDI and chiptune music with forums, how-to articles, news, & a growing collection of nefarious software. Although AMN focuses on Atari, it warmly welcomes Amiga, C64, ZX & NES musicians to share their music! There’s no platform rivalry here – we’re all one big, geeky, vintage family!

LR: What is the greatest feature of the AMN?

DL: In the beginning of April 2010, the Atari Music Network released AMN Live!, an incredible new feature which has completely revolutionized the site. AMN Live! is a free, professional music publishing tool designed to help chiptune and MIDI musicians promote their music to a targeted, global audience. It is the only chiptune and MIDI music sharing service that includes in-depth SEO and social bookmarking tools so search engines can easily index our musician’s profiles and albums as individual landing pages. AMN also pays out of pocket for Facebook and Google ads to drive traffic to this area of the site; therefore, if you really want your music to get noticed, you’ll want to spend some time writing a clean, professional bio as well as some informative album reviews.

LR: How could somebody could participate?

DL: All you have to do is register once to get access to both AMN Live! and the AMN forums.

LR: How long did it took to establish the site?

DL: This is a loaded question! First of all, this is the first website I’ve ever built. When I started back in June of 2009, I knew absolutely nothing about HTML or Joomla. In fact, I didn’t even know how to buy an internet domain! Since I was a new immigrant to the USA, I wasn’t allowed to work so I had a lot of spare time on my hands. Originally, I wanted to launch the site it in October, but someone hacked into my files and deleted everything. Can you believe I never backed up anything either? It was so devastating and I almost gave up. But after several nights of drinking Heineken and receiving encouragement from several Atari friends and my wife, I started all over again. The site was finally launched on midnight, Jan 1, 2010. And you wouldn’t believe what happened next! A few minutes after the launch, my hard drive crashed and I couldn’t access my site for days!

Over time, I have become quite proficient tweaking CSS, HTML, and mySQL files. The site has changed so much since January and I’ve got many unfinished projects to finish on the site. I can safely predict it will take another year to call it “complete” and “running on its own”. Unfortunately, since June 2009, I haven’t had time to even touch my Atari studio. It’s been a huge sacrifice building this site; there’s always modules to upgrade, bugs to fix, SEO enhancements to make, advertising to pay for…the list is endless. In fact, I’m running both a Joomla and PHPBB3 forum side by side and this dual platform system requires double the constant upgrading and monitoring. Right now, there’s a lot of people waiting on me to upload articles they sent back in March! I can barely keep up! Although I’ll admit, since I’m a graphic designer by trade, I spend too much time perfecting my front page graphics! ;-p

LR: Do you think that there is something most Atari musicians have in common?

DL: I don’t like to over generalize, but I can share some observations I’ve made over the years. Atari musicians come in two flavors: MIDI synth enthusiasts and Chiptuners. MIDI musicians tend to be in their 40s-50s, and are incredible Atari hardware experts. They always seem to have an answer for even the most obscure questions. Typically, these are the guys that never sold their Ataris since they bought them new, or if they did, they came back to it years later after realizing Mac and PC were no where near as stable, efficient, or fun to to sequence MIDI music on.

Chip musicians seem to span all generations and platforms. There plenty of older MIDI-chiptune crossover musicians and ex-demo gurus too. Perhaps the most exciting and promising thing I can tell you is that there are thousands of youths in their teens and 20s who are way too young to even know what Atari is – yet they are embracing and popularizing the 8-bit music genre like never before! For example, I recently encountered a few hundred of them from Indonesia though Facebook. The 8-bit scene is massive over there and I constantly get thank you emails and letters of support from them – incredible!

LR: Do you meet other Atarians in real life from time to time?

DL: Not in the Appalachian mountains! But there are still hundreds of Atarians back home in Toronto buying & selling Ataris on Craigslist all the time. One of the Atari Music Network’s goals is to create a global ‘network’ of Atarians to exist as one, large community.

LR: What are your plans for the future of the AMN?

DL: There are actually several planned stages of growth for AMN. First and foremost, I plan to produce an e-commercial for YouTube to attract and invite more chiptune and vintage MIDI synth musicians. I also have over 1GB of Atari software I need to upload which is a long boring, task – but one I’m sure all Atarians will love and appreciate. More importantly, within a couple years, I am planning on hosting international chiptune/MIDI festivals, similar to Blipfest, in the USA and perhaps globally. But right now, I’m focussed on making sure AMN is running smoothly with more content, software, and members.

LR: When I had a look at the link section, I didn’t see anything related to games and gaming, why?

DL: That link page is massive, isn’t it? My web analytics also show that it’s the most popular page on the site! It took countless weeks to build that page and I am nowhere near finished. I’m now looking for volenteers to continue adding and building it. The categories extend way beyond Atari music and so far it has potential to be the largest, most up-to-date Atari link page of all time. If anyone would like to help continue building it, please contact me at atarimusicnet@yahoo.com. I’d love to have a game section as well as sections for our C64 and Amiga friends.

LR: What are your 3 favorite Atari made tracks?

DL: I can’t say. Ask me again in one year after AMN attracts hundreds more talented Atari musicians – I want to sample thousands of new, innovative tracks before I form an opinion on what I like most. Maybe someone reading this article can blow me away with their musical talent! Hope to see you at http://www.AtariMusic.net/

LR: Thanks a lot that you found some time to do the interview Donovan, and good luck with your project.


Links:

  1. Atari Music Network
  2. Donovan’s Atari story

The Lunatic is in the NES?

May 15, 2010

What if Pink Floyd wrote music for the NES?

This topic isn’t strictly Atari, but on the other hand it does nicely fit in under the ‘Low Res’ part of our remit, so what’s going on here? It seems that some mad soundchip botherer has only gone and done the big one. He’s made Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album into a NES soundtrack!

It was that great natural philosopher of our age, Homer Simpson, who once said that “Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact. “ He may have been listening to this 1973 released album, widely feted as one of the all-time best, to come to that rather startling conclusion.

The whole topic of ‘best of’, especially in music is an area where everyone’s mileage varies. I accept that, there will be no enforced missionary missives from me as to who is best. My views are as subjective as the rest of you. That said, Dark Side of the Moon (DSOM) would be smugly sitting in a safe spot in the memory of my hopefully remaining hypothetical ‘Desert Island iPod’ as one of the best of all time.

In a vain attempt to forcefeed some Atari perspective into an otherwise non-specific article, I did use parts of DSOM in direct-to-disk recording experiments in my very early Falcon 030 owning days. These were the days when there really wasn’t anything else around to use as a showreel at the local computer club, so WinRec and a decently loud stereo output with ‘Eclipse‘, the rousing endpart blaring out did the job back then.

DSOM is possibly my most perfect formative exposure to serious musical appreciation, after Jean Michel Jarre’s ‘Equinoxe’. Like that album, DSOM is best appreciated as a complete work. It seems that for this reworking, the author has appreciated this fully, avoiding chopping the perfect whole up into individual tracks, and presented two MP3’s as side 1 and side 2, to listen to as you would have listened to the original vinyl.

To cut to whodunnit, a warped or inspired individual called Brad Smith presented a re-imagining of the whole album. This is a courageous decision on his part. It would be easy enough to take some easy to do instrumental only parts, like ‘On the run’ and be happy with the end result, but he goes through the whole damn lot.

I listened to this as intently as I would have listened to the original album. Brad used ‘Famitracker’ to create the work and everything was done within the limits of the standard NES soundchip. There was no extra hardware used.

It is fair to say that although the whole entity is awesome, some parts do come across slightly better than others. The opening part of side one,  ‘Speak to Me’ felt like the intro to ‘Money’ and did not immediately trigger any recall of the album. Other parts such as ‘Breathe’ managed to keep the essence of the original rather well.

By the time we get to ‘On the run’, we have hit the pace. This part was nicely carried off. The original was instrumental and synth and effect heavy so perhaps there was no surprise there.  ‘Time‘ was a definite re-interpretion tailored to the soundchip’s strengths and limitations, especially the opening part. I liked it.

The rest of side one manages to carry the essentials of the tune well. There are some worthy attempts to get some real ‘soul’ in the sound.

The opener to side two, ‘Money’ reminded me of Sonic the Hedgehog at first, but settled down nicely. (It was the almost identical sounding ‘ker-ching’ when tokens are picked up!) ‘Us And Them’ was a lovely track and really captured the essence of the album.

The mid-section is held up by ‘Any Colour You Like’, with the Floydian sonic swirls decently interpreted. The last two tracks hold up the high standard, although on both ‘Brain Damage’ and ‘Eclipse’, they really needed the vocals, especially on the latter track as the lyrics are a major feature. Apart from that, as I said, still a major piece of awesome to take the project on in the first place.

It had after-effects too. Listening to this version of DSOM stirred the dusty forgotten corners of the ‘iPod in my brain’. I’ve been remembering odd parts of the original in unguarded quiet moments. At some point I’m going to have to dig out my original and listen to it properly to compare it with this version.

But I’m going to be busy, it’s only two weeks to Outline and hardly anything has been done yet! Must get on!

For those of you inclined to investigate further. This and a bunch of other Brad-created work can be found on [1]

There are downloadable MP3’s for this, and links to YouTube versions as well. Enjoy!


Links:

  1. Brad Smith site and “dark side of the moon” upload