Chiptune Questions


3 months late as usual because insert excuses as usual but doing it immediately would be too mainstream and exploiting huge trends for influence so this was on purpose of course

ill do one question each day until christmas, one little easily digestible bedtime story bite every day instead of an entire novel dropped at once as usual, because my answers might occasionally be rather long and you know what youre like after a few novels and to post something while im again busy with rl stuff (i will of course finish the dp opening 8-bit first) and because i love writing

i will answer the 25 questions as best i can, and you shall read, and pray

once this is done everything will be easily readable in one piece at and you can visit it at any time to read whats been posted so far without it being split into 10, 20 poots but dont decode its html source code with some sort of hacker tool before day 25 or ill sue you

1. when did you start making chiptune?

around october 2018 apparently, at least thats the last modification date on my first .ftm file (many of my file creation dates are wrong because of hard drive failures and file system migrations), but i only started making chiptunes “regularly” and uploading them a year later. i specifically remember that i was listening to the pmd2 dark hill cover by rock bomber and the tloz ww windfall island cover by bulby when i properly started. they were both released in october 2019 which corresponds to my first upload dates, so i guess it adds up. also, how do rock bombers covers have so few views? go subscribe to her right now. and to bulby and everyone else ill be mentioning later.

2. why do you like chiptune?

thats both easy and difficult to answer. i just like the way it tastes, i mean sounds. its a very unique and simplistic medium that at the same time fascinates me by the endless amounts of possibilities and creativity it allows. things with unique styles and limitations that force you to get creative and come up with new ways of doing things like minecraft have always interested me. imposing limits on oneself can lead to iconic things like arps or the fascinating ecosystem that has been created by the attempt to play super mario 64 without pressing the A button.

ive not lived in the 8-bit era myself, so its not really nostalgia regarding the sound itself. my earliest digital experience was using my mums windows xp desktop pc at kindergarten age that i did all kinds of things with and eventually got to keep a couple of years later, and when i was like 11 i got my first gaming console, a ds lite. my mum was and still is a staunch opponent of these so-called violent video games. the ds made me appreciate pixel art, though i did not consciously realise or act on that interest. and while i think ive always generally enjoyed how chiptune sounds, im not quite sure how i got into it as much as i am now. it just sort of happened. ive definitely always loved video game music and nostalgia, and both of these things have eventually sparked my deeper interest in music.

my first chiptune-related memories are discovering the iconic chiptune version of the monkey island theme by dubmood through the youtuber gronkh, the (non-faithful) gb player in hgss and playing some old nintendo games on emulators, all also around the golden age of 11-13. the only or rather first thing i can think of that expanded my chiptune interest is listening to rock bombers and bulbys covers of my favourite game soundtracks. and they eventually inspired me to try it myself, so thank you so much for helping me discover one of my greatest passions! i absolutely love their work to this day and always think out with glee [sic] every time i see something new from them in my yt sub feed (which i also do for all the other wonderful chiptuning people i know of), though i wanted to have the style of my stuff go in a bit of a different direction. its fascinating how different and recognisable peoples styles are, even if they all use famitracker. as i said, even with drastic limitations there are still endless possibilities.

3. ur favorite soundchip or chiptune type

i have to admit that my knowledge and the chiptune i listen to isnt that broad, i only really listen to soundtracks of nes and gb games and interwebs musicians that mostly use famitracker. and it uses exactly the waveforms i love: slightly raspy and narrow 12.5 % pulses, soft and balanced 25 % pulses, hollow and wide 50 % pulses, booming and deep yet somehow also uniquely thin and high triangles (that can also be used for things other than basses or percussion) and noise for percussion or sound effects. i almost never use the dpcm channel, especially not for realistic drum samples because i love the way noise percussion sounds and because its fun and interesting to recreate different percussive sounds with just 16 noise pitches, 2 noise modes, 16 volumes and all of those variables changed over time. so i guess my answer is 2a03 and anything that uses these waveforms. but it doesnt have to be triangle basses. pulse and especially square basses are just as good if not better, but triangle basses are especially unique and iconic.

4. favorite artists/idols

the great junichi masuda and go ichinose for obvious reasons. rock bomber and bulby for inspiring me to start famitracking and accompanying it with pixel art. branflakes whom i unfortunately discovered late but whose style i think i like the most, it sounds the most like an imitation of the original instruments within the possibilities of famitracker instead of using a more "chippy" style which is the same i try to do and love. and also isabellechiming, lumena-tan, christerious, teuthida, mackbookpro, iso_8, beep_wave, pk.chiptune, algar chiptunes, dubmood and maktone.

aside from chiptune, the favourites that come to my mind are david wise, grant kirkhope, koji kondo, arata iiyoshi, hitomi sato, hans zimmer, michael jackson, adastra and fresh d.

i hope i didnt forget anyone, and i also have some other potentially great chiptuners in my 1.5k tabs of people (mostly visual artists) to check out (which get more every day because whenever i see a retweet/toot/poot or yt suggestion i like, i open it in a new tab to thoroughly check their stuff out later but i rarely actually sit down and do that). follow/subscribe/$platform_appropriate_term to them right now or i shall hack your "smart" devices with the hacker tool commonly referred to as fire fox by pressing f12 to access the hacker console and typing the hacker command "sudo chmod +x && cmatrix -aC yellow".

5. ur proudest work

its not easy for me to say that im proud or to even feel proud of something i did and if i do i feel like i shouldnt because its selfish and i was just lucky or cheated somehow, and having done well only sets the bar for my perfectionism even higher. and i often change my opinion about my stuff, many times i grow to like it more after 1, 2 months, when ive distanced myself from the creation process and its worries and doubts and have a more neutral perspective. and when i listen to my past stuff (or look at my past jeff/ow fideos), even when theyre not amazing, im still surprised because my brain tends to erase past "successes" from memory to fill it completely with the fear of what im currently working on turning out horrible. so ive started occasionally listening to my better past stuff to remember that i might actually be able to do something decent. which helps but also again increases my perfectionism because the comparison with past stuff raises my expectations from undefined hypothetical levels to something specific that must be surpassed at any cost. but ive generally been liking my covers more and more which is a good thing i guess. i definitely feel like im learning a lot of new things with each cover. and i see that ive improved compared to 1 and especially 2 years ago. which must mean that ill again be better in 1, 2 years from now, but thats hard to imagine and believe. and none of this should matter, the only thing that should matter and does in fact have meaning is my enjoyment of the creation process. which has seen a steep increase this year. not counting external factors.

anyway, ive actually been considering hgss ice path my proudest work since ive made it, though im not entirely sure if it still deserves that title. either way, i love the instrument and effect usage, i felt like i put everything id learnt up until that point into it in addition to quite a few interesting new things i came up with and making it was tons of fun.

honorary mentions include pmd2 drenched bluff, i think it was the first one i enjoyed making all the way through, i felt great, i felt like i knew what i was doing, i tried new things that turned out great and i love the instruments, especially my beloved square vibrato pan flute. i felt like i transcended from noob l2p to above average. this, for the ph siblings, was the turning point. if only my teams wouldnt always suck, i could be top 500 by now.

and also dppt pokemon center day which is the earliest song that i still really like to this day and which relates to the former as i think it marks the beginning of the phase in hwhich i ascended from noobhood. and all of these three, three works cover original songs that i like very much so, yes yes. actually theres another of the more recent good ones that would very much so deserve a spot here but it looks like ill have to save that for a later question.

6. which track took the longest

i actually measured exactly how many minutes everything took before pokemon center. yes, im insane. when i think about what took the longest, the first that comes to my mind is pmd2 dialgas fight to the finish, which took me very long, was difficult and partly frustrating. and it was the first (and only so far) at speed 1. i like some parts and hate others. but my brother who requested it for his birthday seems to like it, i guess thats good enough. but i didnt measure how long it took.

coconut is the longest documented one at 41.64 h. it took that long even though it sounds simple and repetitive because i tried to reproduce the singing voice note by note as accurately as possible regarding things like volume, pitch slides and imperfections, vibrati, rhythm imperfections and so on which took a lot of time, both due to the effort and because it was extremely boring, dull and tedious after a while. dont listen to it, its old and bent, i mean bad, though the visuals are definitely of a certain artistic value.

honorary mentions include zelda overworld which was my very first famitracker file. i made it to learn the basic usage of famitracker by simply recreating the original nes zelda overworld theme. i didnt measure the time perfectly by minute with an application at that time yet, but i wrote down the approximate time every day. it added up to 600 hours. not for just the song, for everything. my idea for the visuals was to make an animation of the original zelda game but with pokemon instead of the original characters. and i wanted to make that animation by drawing terrain textures and sprites to use in rpg maker mv because i knew rpg maker from pokemon essentials. it took that long because i had no idea what i was doing (mostly no idea how to draw) and because the idea of just a simple animation of riolu as link repeatedly killing emboars with his sword turned into the idea of an actual full game with a big map, story and characters, based on the idea of a zelda-like universe but with pokemon. theres more to the "game" than what can be seen in the fideo, and a lot more analogue, digital and mental notes than what the "game" currently features. but i stopped working on it when it reached a state where i realised i had (more than) enough to record footage for the fideo. this is also the biggest reason why it took me a year to do covers regularly as mentioned in question 1. id love to eventually continue that game, but ill start from scratch in a proper engine (for this type of game).

of course a question regarding things that took long to make, even when its supposed to be about chiptune, is not fully answered without mentioning the ow devupdates. introducing ganondorf took 230 hours to make. the series is very dear to my heart, even though i unfortunately had to cancel this years episode for the first time. i consider that series the beginning of my audiovisual work. while the majority of the creation process is taken up by jeff sentencing which is very tedious and not fun at all, the rest is very fun and i generally mostly love the results. which could of course be better if i wouldnt have always rushed them in 4-2 weeks with minimal sleep and all-nighters to get them done in time. i dont remember the details, its all become a blur since ive left the hydro time machine, but i stayed up for 2 days and 1.5 nights straight for the final edits of introducing link remastered, after sleeping only a couple of hours before. a very interesting experience, at some point i didnt feel tired anymore and felt like i could stay awake forever. it was great, i could be productive forever without ever having to interrupt the creative flow by sleeping again. i still most of the time go to bed way too late because im still working on something (like these questions right now) but at least i improved by reducing the amount of all-nighters to nearly zero this year. i had planned introducing midna for this year btw, maybe next year. hopefully. which also arises the question of my Jeff Voice Pack™, every instance of every word jeff has ever said exported into a separate file, extensively tagged with tone, pitch, speed, emotion etc for faster, easier and better jeff sentencing. but just like my website, it probably wont ever exist.

7. first vs latest track

zelda overworld was my first .ftm file, but it’s just a 2a03 recreation of the original 2a03 song to try out and learn the basics of famitracker and to have a "high (audio) quality" version to use in my intro, so id prefer to call zelda tp ilias theme my first real track, it has some experimentation at least and is a proper cover instead of just a worse copy. and its not too bad, it could be worse. you could be stabbed.

my latest track is hgss azalea town. i absolutely love the original and also really like my version. it definitely deserves a spot among my favourites. i enjoyed making it and i tried and learnt new things. mainly that i recorded the midi signals in lmms of me "playing" it the way i always instinctively play it on my (musical) keyboard to have a visual reference of how i play it to use in famitracker. i cant consciously replicate that very well because its just something that happens automatically when i play, not something i consciously and actively decide to do. its like if youre in front of a (typing) keyboard with all keycaps removed and you cant consciously place them exactly where they belong, but if you pretend to type a word with that letter in it your finger automatically moves to the right spot. i want my covers to sound dynamic and organic, as if it were a human playing it by hand, not like a machine producing the exact same sound with every note, the exact same simple audio data only with a different pitch.

i actually hoped to be able to put the dp opening cover here but it looks like it wont be done for quite some time. the song itself is done and i have a drawing, so i could video edit and upload it. but i have an idea to make it something special, and id rather take the time to make it special than to get it out quickly, especially now that the bdsp release is already way in the past anyway. though this idea might be too ambitious, im not sure if ill be able to pull it off, and im not talking about my usual doubts. and im not sure if itll be fun. in combination with the rl stuff that will take up my time in the second half of december it looks like there wont be a jeff sings fideo this year either, or a new years 8bit cover of some end credits theme which i wanted to do last year but also didnt. but next year should be better, ill most likely have more time and less worries. im looking forward to it.

8. portfolio/reel or youtube/sc

my music can be found on the following sites: (you can expect my website to be done in about 10, 20 years)

a full list of where i post links to these and other stuff:

ive recently once again weeded out sites and added new ones. posting fideos, music and art on 10, 20 sites just took way too long and ive not been happy with some alternative ones. ive now narrowed it down to two categories: 1. the big bad sites everyone uses like youtube, with some exceptions like meta owned stuff, and 2. alternative sites that i actually think are good (namely members of the world wide web consortiums united federation of activitypub social networks, also known as the fediverse or the light side of the interwebs that opposes the metaverse empire) instead of just every alternative site i can find, even if theyre built upon bad principles similar to the current big ones. ive now removed everything that doesnt fit into these categories and im currently adding something new. more on all of this later.

[you didnt think i wouldnt turn the simple question of a yt link into a novel did you]

9. best compliment youve got

a difficult question. any compliment makes me incredibly happy and i dont want to pick a favourite child and make the others feel bad. all plushies deserve the same amount of love. its also very difficult for me to accept compliments. the more i know and care about someone, the harder it becomes. maybe because i cant brush them off as much because i cant tell myself that theyve just complimented me because they dont know any better. but compliments; also, known as comments, sometimes; and genuine love, kindness and positivity in general, are the most important things there are, even though i might not be the best at accepting and verbally expressing them. i also dont want to put anyones comment/message/something into the "spotlight" against their will (and im too shy to ask for permission and what if theyre too shy to say no and what if). for all of these reasons i shall anonymise, paraphrase and generalise instead of posting screenshots or something.

what i consider the best compliment is when people tell me that a song has made them feel nostalgic, happy, or any other beautiful feeling like sadness or discomfort. feelings are what music is all about. no magic (except for love) can compare to the magic that happens when sound waves create immense immaterial universes full of emotion in our minds. listening to music is like swimming in a vast sea of feelings, and playing or creating music is becoming one with the waves and giving them a new shape. if i can contribute to someone experiencing this, maybe even forgetting their worries a little in the process, i couldnt be happier. smiles go for miles! :)

another thing that i guess fits the description of best compliment is one that happened twice i think: someone telling me that my cover is even better than the original. which should be one of the best compliments one could possibly get, but i just couldnt accept them and had to hold myself back not to tell them "thanks but actually youre wrong it sux", especially because i was and still am not at all satisfied with what they were referring to. and it can be especially frustrating when the things one likes the least get the most attention. but ive completely stopped looking at yt analytics more than a year ago and i think ive come to terms with people liking things i made that i dont like. at least i dont have the urge to object to their comments anymore. im sorry for devaluing your comments by thinking like this.

a type of comment i get frequently is something like "ur underrated u deserve more sucks" which causes me to think multiple things. im flattered, obviously. i also think how unfortunate it is that works people apparently like a lot dont get a lot of attention while other types of "content" (i hate that word in this context, its the most bland and lifeless word possible for art, but of course a perfect fit for big evil capitalist corporations with names like alphabet and meta that turn the meaningful acts of creation and experience into the lifeless acts of content and consumption for profit) get all the attention, especially considering the incredible channels/$platform_appropriate_term i know of that have few subscribers and views. and im not sure if i would like having more subs, i dont like attention after all and im doing ars gratia artis and not for ♪atteeention and moooneeey♪, and i dont know how well i would be able to handle it. i like the way it is right now: i get a nice and motivating comment every once in a while and there are 1, 2 nice people who are aware of my existence and of whomst´s` existence i am also aware too. i have more thoughts about this but that would probably double the length of this "answer" and id like to get some of this so-called sleep.

to conclude the 21st question… i mean 9th question, i might as well use the opportunity to thank some specific and special people:, and i appreciate you very much :) and the same goes for anyone reading this right now. and anyone who has interacted with me or commented or liked or listened/looked at my stuff.

edit: i almost forgot: i also love when i put references into a drawing or song and people recognise and point them out and enjoy them. i think that might be the best type of compliment. it makes me very happy and i have no issue at all accepting that. i love references. one might even say i am the reference.

10. hardware limitations or freestyle?

as i mentioned in answer 2, i like sticking to hardware limitations because working around them is fun and leads to new unique stuff. and the famicoms expansion chips allow for enough channels to make things a little more complex while still being limited and authentic. but there are three things i do that violate famitracker/8-bit law:

the native 60 hz or 60 ticks per second limit the possible tempi a lot. changing the tempo of an existing song can be interesting and fitting, but even a slightly different bpm sounds very different and i prefer to have more precise control over the tempo. i could of course use different amounts of ticks per note, as im assuming most people do in famitracker (i have no idea what other people do but the groove feature in 0cc-ft makes it seem like its very common) but i dont like the idea of such grave imperfections, and the times ive used very short notes or triplets that dont perfectly align with the clock speed ive found it was noticeable that the lengths were slightly different. changing the tempo value to not align with the clock speed is definitely very noticeable. and different amounts of ticks per note also make precise control of effects harder, and worse with static envelopes. so ive taken the liberty of examining that parrot and changing the clock speed, which still results in a limited amount of bpms (and the tempo value must be 2.5 × hz for each row to have an even $speed_value ticks per row, which further limits the possible bpms since the tempo value is also limited to integers of a certain range) but i usually can get a bpm value that only differs by about 1. which can still be a big difference especially at lower bpms, but its a lot better and the best famitracker can do with an even amount of ticks per note. im bad at maths so calculating the best possible hz, along with tempo, speed and row highlight (rows per beat), always took some time. and the famitracker wiki only has an incomplete version of the secret formula that describes the relationship between these values and i couldnt find a complete one anywhere on the interwebs, so i had to figure it out by myself: bpm = tempo × 6 ÷ speed ÷ (row highlight ÷ 4). in april 2020, amarizo turned this formula into a python script that gives you all possible value combinations for the desired bpm which has been quite handy. ive been wanting to make it publicly available on my website and to make an easily usable web version, but who knows when ill make my website, so ill just dump the file here for now if you want to use it (the documentation for how to use it only exists in my head right now, so if someone actually wants to use it, ask me how it works). but for the dp opening i used varying ticks per note/row for the first time, since it consists of multiple parts with many different tempi. it was certainly a challenge to calculate the values for those, ill add the ability to automate that to the script once ive learned python myself. and the result sounds perfect, i dont notice any differences in note lengths. but i used 90 hz, so the unevennesses are a lot smaller than what they would be at the default 60 hz. of course, the human ear cant hear more than 60 hz anyway.

the wav files famitracker exports are quite quiet, so i increase their volume in audacity/tenacity by around 2-5 db. i used to use much smaller amounts until the lake trio battle or something, but now its close to the standard -14 lufs. i was afraid of making it too loud but it wasnt too loud and its easier for listeners to make something a little quieter than to increase playback volume beyond 100 %. i recommend doing this as well, that way people can indulge in your music at full volume. and, for songs that loop infinitely, i also add a 7 second studio fade out in *acity, both because it sounds better and because its a lot simpler than fading the channels out evenly and over the perfect length in ft. *looking at the dbd theme "fade"*

when a ft channel produces a sound for the first time, it makes a mysterious clicking noise; also, known as a pop, sometimes. its not always noticeable but it is very much so during quiet starts like in the dp opening. so before i export, i add a frame before the start and put a note followed by a note stop into each used channel. i then remove that part up until the exact point where the song itself starts in *acity to get a clean start in each channel. but one has to watch out if any frame jumps are used, for example for loops, since adding a frame changes the frame numbers. sometimes i save the ft file like this after exporting, sometimes i revert it. you might have noticed these weird extra rows at the start if youve downloaded any of my ft files.

A screenshot of 0CC-FamiTracker with my cover of the Pokémon Diamond/Pearl opening. There are some extra rows before the song starts. Each first row has a note in it, followed by a note stop and a couple of empty rows.