[8-Bit Cover] Battle! (Azelf/Mesprit/Uxie) | Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

When Azelf flew, people gained the determination to do things. It was the birth of willpower.
Kyuuun…

⬇ Downloads

8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio.mp3
8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio.flac
8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio.wav
8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio_nocry.mp3
8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio_nocry.flac
8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio_nocry.wav
8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio_loopableStart-cry.wav
8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio_loopableStart-nocry.wav
8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio_loopableLoop.wav
8Bit-DPPt-BattleLakeTrio.0cc

You may do anything with these as long as you name the source of the original song and credit me as the creator of the cover version by linking to my website or one of my social media accounts (licence: CC BY 4.0).

📒 My Thoughts

Prologue

Azelf was the first legendary Pokémon I’ve ever caught. And it was a loose second member of my first ever “team”. That consisted of just an Infernape with four fire attacks. So having an Azelf to occasionally use Extrasensory in the late parts of the game was useful. Good times. I like how Azelf looks. I like it the most out of the three Lake Guardians, probably mostly because it was my first and the only one of them that I’ve ever used and because it’s blue. Uxie is yellow, though, but very pale. Maybe it’s also Azelf’s head shape that reminds me a little of Link’s hat, I like its head the most as well. The trio of course also reminds me of the Golden Goddesses and the Triforce from Zelda (see TLoK), only that Mesprit represents emotion instead of power, which I like because now they all represent values that are important to me. And Azelf represents courage, just like Link’s Triforce piece. Though I’m not sure about my personal relationship with courage. It’s a somewhat ambiguous one. To quote Jeremy the Wise: “U-Uxie!”

The Song

Since especially the beginning is very bass-heavy and since there are two distinctly different basses playing in the original and I love basses, I wanted to have an additional bass channel, similar to Ice Path. My first plan was to use a 2A03 pulse channel for it to be able to use a pulse width envelope and to save the additional pulse widths of VRC6 for other instruments. Unfortunately, 2A03 pulse channels can only go as low as A0, but the bass goes as low as G#0. So I had to use a VRC6 pulse channel for it which meant that I had less pulse width options for the instruments playing in that channel.

I usually don’t use the DPCM channel because I only want to use things I made by myself and not other people’s samples and because I want my music to have only the (at least for me) usual waveforms and I love noise percussion. Channel limits are also a common characteristic of 8-bit music. But I’ve long toyed with the idea of using the DPCM channel as sort of a second wave channel, putting samples of my own noise drums in there. Compressing existing percussion lines into one channel, as with many limitations, can be interesting, different and lead to new ideas. But sometimes, when there are multiple distinct and characteristic percussion lines playing, it would of course be nice to keep multiple ones. So I tried that here for the first time. Of course, using the DPCM channel for the song itself also means it’s no longer available as a sort of note pad for unused things, things to copy, markers and other stuff. But I could just add another expansion chip for that thanks to 0CC-FT.

When I tried the aforementioned noise DPCM idea, I found out that importing .wavs to DPCM is apparently broken in 0CC-FT, someone also said so on GitHub. So, to convert them and save them as DPCM files to use in 0CC-FT, I had to use the good old default FamiTracker again. With the default theme. With the broken instrument editor on Linux that fortunately is not broken in the DPCM tab. I’m not sure what to think of the result, it adds more but it also adds a lot of bad background noise, then again the low quality also makes it sound different compared to the noise channel which makes sure that both drum lines sound distinctly different enough. Now that everything is done and I’ve listened to it 1, 2k times, I do think it sounds alright. But it’s strange to see all channels filled. We’ve never done that before. What us that again on voter voices cost would.

I never noticed that delicious DnB(?)-like drum line in the beginning until now. It’s fascinating what interesting stuff music contains that I never consciously perceive unless I actively analyse a song to cover it. That noise stuff at 0:15 was particularly interesting to recreate. V00 didn’t sound right at all, way too textureless and boring, but V01 was way too extreme. So I applied the good old principle of arps/dithering. For the first higher “note”, I used an envelope of | 1 0 0 0 0 to give it just a little bit of 1 and because of how strong 1 sounds at higher notes. Since this is longer than most notes I used and it doesn’t align with the line length of three ticks, I put && instruments in the lines to make the notes continue the envelope instead of restarting it every time. Finally a perfectly necessary and perfectly working application of &&. Since 1 has a weaker effect for lower frequencies and it should sound different, I used a | 1 0 envelope for the second thingy and no && which made it have more 1 in lower notes.

Initially, I used sawtooth arps for those repeating high chords at the beginning and in later parts. But I wasn’t satisfied with how that sounded at all. So I put the other note in pulse 4 and cut some other stuff out when there was no space left. For example, the third and lowest note for these chords had to go when all the other parts come in at 0:11 and leave no room. But that’s fortunately not noticeable. And the second bass had to take a break at 1:43 to make space for the clicky piano which is also not noticeable.

The quiet start slowly ascending in volume doesn’t sound that great because of how strong the difference is between low volumes, especially 0, 1 and 2. And of course there is also the sawtooth channel with its different volume table. I used note cuts instead of or in addition to note releases for the quieter volumes and that really made a big difference. Now the length of the decay/fade out fits to the volume and it doesn’t just stay at volume 1 for way too long when the note itself is only at volume 1 or 2. The finer sawtooth volume steps would of course be perfect for this, but since they can’t be selected in the pattern editor, I didn’t bother making a separate instrument for each note of a different volume. The larger steps fit to the other channels after all. Though I did add a A01 A00 for the first sawtooth note much later which made it go down from pattern channel volume 1 (sawtooth volume 3?) to sawtooth volume 2 (? volume 1 is silence as well I believe) and therefore added one more quieter step for the first note which sounds good. I think. Unfortunately, that technique didn’t seem to work for pattern volumes other than 1, so I only used it there.

I love the intro part before the melody starts but I wasn’t sure at all about the rest. I felt about it similarly to Cynthia or Dialga. I thought that it might be the high non-square chords, since Drenched Bluff sounds amazing, but changing the waveforms didn’t make a difference. I still added a square version of the melody for good measure, because I love delicious high vibratoing pan flutes/squares. I also tried the usual old method to make anything sound good, a dual channel Pxx echo/sustain when there was space available. One of minimal volume since there isn’t supposed to be an echo. But, while it’s not really noticeable if you don’t know it’s there, it does make a difference, I think. It makes it sound a little like it’s in a cave which is very fitting. And for the flute echo, even sawtooth echo pattern volume 1 was too much, so I put the aforementioned A01 A00 there which made it perfect and which gave me the idea to put another one at the beginning.

Before I tried this, though, I added the only instrument that was still missing, namely the hitsounds (orchestra hits). Most of the time, they just play the melody as well, so I didn’t include those parts. In Cynthia, I used note and pulse width arpeggios for the hitsounds since they’re supposed to be every instrument playing at once. Which is fitting, I guess, but not sounding that good. At 1:17, I had already added that A A G# A part. I have no idea why, it just came to me and I felt like adding it. And things like this always make me wonder if my brain just wanted to do that because it had already heard it somewhere. Either way, I love how it sounds. And it’s similar to the non-melody parts the hitsounds play at the end of some instances of the melody. So I added those hitsound notes using the same way and instruments as I used for that thing. And that added so much, they sound very mysterious and appropriate for a legendary, they made the biggest difference to me accepting the song as good enough.

Many months ago, I created a note called “lake legends battle” and put one line in it: “azelf cry at perfect time”. Unfortunately, when I started making the cover, I forgot that note and made a new one called “dppt lake trio”. Only half way through drawing the drawing and after having finished fideo editing did I remember the Azelf cry idea. Which of course meant that I had to export, audio edit, visually record and video edit again. There was only one channel free where the cry has to be placed according to when it plays during the actual battle, so I couldn’t add anything else to it like the Chiming. After playing around with pitch slides for 1, 2 hours, I eventually declared it close enough because I wanted to be done. The cry of course created other issues that I’ll get to in the editing part. I’m also not sure if the cry is a good addition. It by itself sounds close enough but the cry playing during the song feels disrupting. But maybe that’s just because I’ve listened to my cover 1, 2k times while making it and afterwards and I’m too used to it not being there. That’s usually the case with late big changes, and I usually like them later. I hope that’ll be the case here too. Of course, I also kept the already existing music files without the cry for anyone who pwefers those.

One more thing I want to mention is that I really like the song and I’ve been playing along to it on my keyboard every now and again. When playing that main melody thing (motif? What is music terminology), I always played the F with my middle finger and then had to move it over the the black key to G, which wasn’t that easy, I frequently accidentally hit F# on the way. But now after making this, I seem to have played it often enough to barely have trouble with that part anymore.

Editing

This time, I edited before drawing the drawing. Using the DPCM channel in addition to all other 2A03+VRC6 channels meant that there was one more channel than the previous maximum and I had to make space for an additional volume+oscilloscope thing to the left. I had already thought of this possibility when I made the new design and thought I could surely fit in one more by shortening the information thing at the top by 1, 2 lines. Now that case finally did happen and it barely fit, I had to use the smaller font for the song title and put game and original composer in the same line. Good thing that only one person seemed to have worked on this song, I don’t want to exclude any of the great masters that conceived these enchanting pieces.

I’ll omit the usual complaints and stories about having to re-record stuff 10 times because I or technology sux and about the recordings displaying stuff many frames too late or too early. One thing of notice is that NSFPS didn’t display the A01 A00 saw waves, it must interpret sawtooth volume 2 as silence. So I had to export an .nsf version with both of those instances removed, which means that the NSFPS visuals don’t accurately show these notes as being quieter.

The addition of the DPCM channel of course also meant that I had to make space for it on the claviature. And that I had to “design” a “key” for it. Dithering still looks disgusting and I didn’t want to use a colour for it. I tried a medium grey to make it stand out between the white key to the left and the dark grey noise key to the right, but medium grey kind of made it look a little cheap and it’s also nearly the same lightness as the outline colour, so I didn’t like that either. So I tried a medium dark grey, didn’t like that either, and then tried the darkest grey from the noise key next to it. I wasn’t satisfied with that either and switched between medium and dark grey many times, but I had to use something, so I eventually kept dark grey for now. Maybe I’ll do it differently next time.

Azelf’s cry that I added later made me discover a bug in NSFPS. I used 3xx in the beginning and then 1xx. But when I exported the song with the cry and played it in NSFPS, the upward pitch slide stopped at what NSFPS displays as E7 (E5 in FamiTracker). I exported many versions with small changes to figure out what causes this and how I could make it display (and auditorily play) the pitch slide completely. Which was very annoying, since I had to close either 0CC-Ft or NSFPS, wait a couple of seconds for it to fully close in the background, and then start the other application. This is because NSFPS stopped working on Linux recently with the Wine version I manually installed. It still runs with the Lutris version of Wine. And apparently, they both use the same resources, I can’t open both applications at the same time now and when switching between them I have to wait for Wine to change some stuff to the other version. Anyway, as it turned out, the culprit of the pitch slide bug is the combination of 0CC-FT’s linear pitch mode and a pitch slide effect (automatic portamento 3xx seems unaffected) being displayed in NSFPS. Playing the same part one octave lower works perfectly fine because everything is below E7. Playing it one octave higher makes the pitch snap down to E7 as soon as the effect starts instead of stopping somewhere. And switching back to linear frequency register fixes it. That also completely changes the pitch slides and I didn’t want to do it again from scratch with the disgusting linear register mode or in general not use the amazing linear pitch mode just because of this bug, so I exported an .nsf version of only Azelf’s cry that is one octave lower. Then, I put that on top of the existing NSFPS recording and moved it to the right by one octave. And that was it. That short little thing was quick to synchronize to the audio as well, so it actually saved me time doing it like this instead of recording the entire NSFPS stuff again (at slow speed) and synchronizing it again. Well, it saved time if you don’t count the time it took to figure out that bug and how to work around it.

The Drawing

The first scene that came to my mind was the protagonist standing near the exit of the cave, looking to Azelf with determination, and the camera being behind the protagonist at ground-level with a slightly upward angle. But since this is the battle theme and there also is the theme for the cave itself, I thought that that scene would be more fitting for that one. So I just made a battle scene between Azelf and Infernape, potentially also with my Lucas giving an attack command. The first thing I drew was Azelf, in its iconic DP sprite pose, of course. Well, it’s iconic for me, at least. And then I remembered that I had Extrasensory on it and looked up what that looks like in the games and anime. I recognised the DPPt animation where the enemy gets distorted and the caster gets a purple circle around it and increases in size. But in the anime, the caster’s eyes glow yellow and a yellow beam is produced. I like yellow and it seems that Extrasensory in the anime was extensively used by the lake trio, so I combined both the purple circle and glowing yellow eyes. Edit: I just prepared tweeting the drawing and checked the trio’s attacks in gen 4. Apparently, they learn Extrasensory at level 51. They are caught at 50. So I guess the wild ones couldn’t actually use Extrasensory and this imagery was a grave unforgivable mistake.

I still have no idea how to draw rock walls. But I found a screenshot from Pokémon Generations or something I used as a loose reference and eventually came up with this which looks really good, I think. But the ground looks disgusting and cheap. Even after multiple tries. Maybe I should have used a similar principle as in the wall somehow but I did not feel like spending another day on this drawing, so I kept it like that, hoping that nobody would pay attention to the ground with the nice wall and especially the Pokémon being in the focus. And I of course put that puddle with the unique shape as in Azelf’s cave in the game in there. The additional small puddles and the trio member’s location represent the lakes on the Sinnoh map by the way. I read that on Bulbapedia during my research, I don’t remember if I realised that when I played the game.

Infernape was not easy. Well, in hindsight it wasn’t that hard, it was just that I felt hopeless and didn’t even consider it possible that I would be able to draw Infernape. I started a little bit after drawing Azelf but gave up and made the background instead. But now that I did successfully draw Infernape, I like how it turned out. The facial expression is particularly interesting and fitting. And I like the purple outline. Though in the game animation, the target has no outline. But I think it’s common for something effected by psychic energy to glow with a purple outline and not just someone who casts that energy. For the pose, I used a screenshot of the anime battle between Infernape and Electivire. I remembered that battle because Amarizo once sent it to me or something. And I have to admit, I understand now why people like my mum think Pokémon is a violent video game that shouldn’t be played by children. Infernape being held by Electivire’s vires and being subjected to torture by electric shocks through these wires that it can’t get rid of doesn’t seem very suitable for children to me. As someone who was traumatised at the age of five by Scratch (?) from Ice Age being tortured, I might also not have liked this at that time. In the last weeks I’ve been watching Altered Carbon on Netflix. (The remainder of this paragraph will describe a bit of the general setting, so no real spoilers, but skip it if you want) In Altered Carbon, the content of people’s brains is saved on a special digital storage medium implanted into the back of the neck, commonly referred to as a Stack. When someone dies, that Stack usually remains intact and can be transferred to another body, commonly known as Sleeve, as bodies can now be changed like clothing, whose brain will then be overwritten with the “consciousness” of the dead person. A very interesting premise. And one that makes countless questions arise. And because death of the body is now no longer permanent, killing or being killed is not as final or consequential as it used to be. There are even some who partipate in battles to “Sleeve-death”, where people are routinely killing each other and the winner gets transferred into a stronger Sleeve. This is what watching the Infernape vs. Electivire battle reminded me of. Pokémon routinely battle each other until they faint. They subject each other to endless torture through things like fire or electricity. Pokémon really is brutal if you see it as a realistic fictional universe as in the anime instead of a strategic turn-based video game. But apparently, Pokémon don’t mind being tortured on a daily basis. I recommend watching Altered Carbon or reading the books it’s apparently based on. There are two characters that I love an indescribable amount. I cried for them. And I followed their actors on Twitter who also seem to be great people. It’s incredible how you can just find people like actors or authors on Twitter and sometimes they actually post about what they think. As a child, I read books and only knew the name of the authors, maybe also their face if it was printed in the book. But that was it. They were some distant human who created these incredible things but I’ll never know anything else about them. Maybe I could write a physical letter of appreciation, which I of course never did. But now, I can tweet how much I loved someones book to the author and they will read it and reply. I can read what they think about, what causes they care about, see that they’re also just a human like me. Fascinating. I’ll now say who the aforementioned favourite characters are, so skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to be influenced or spoiled by that. As you could probably guess if you know me, it’s that certain dad and that certain artificial intelligence. As an honorary mention, while the main character was certainly interesting but not someone who I would classify as a favourite character, I have to mention as well how much I love his season 2 actor’s smile. I believe it’s the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. It looks so soft, warm and compassionate, no judgement, only gentle unconditional caring. I try to picture it in my head now when I feel bad. I should put it in my wallpaper folder.

The Being of Courage

The following section was originally part of the prologue right after the now only paragraph there but I moved it down here because it’s not relevant, I want the on-topic stuff to come first, and because it’s bad and I hope nobody will see it down here. Also, apparently Azelf is the being of willpower. Not exactly courage as in Zelda, but is there are difference? You could definitely exchange both expressions in the following paragraphs.

If asked, my first response would be that courageous is one of the least fitting words to describe me. I’ve thought about this quite a bit while making TLoK and specifically while writing parts of the story. I’m introverted, shy, very careful and cautious, I don’t believe in myself and things that I fear frequently get me close to my breaking point. I have very strong beliefs and I want to do good, but in my childhood for example when my mum had tortoises that were living in horrible conditions, I never once dared to speak up. I just quietly suffered with them for years. 1.5 years ago, when she suddenly got tortoises again, I couldn’t believe that this nightmare from the past is happening again and I swore to do everything I can to help them. And I did do a lot of things that (at least for me) required extensive amounts of courage. But what did it do? I wasted weeks, if not months of my life, the tortoises have nearly no improvements and have never seen the sun that is so crucial to them to this day, and I worsened the relationship between me and my mum. In the rare occasions I am courageous, only bad things come out of it.

Otherwise, I almost never dare speak my mind when I encounter something I believe is very wrong. Maybe because my mum never allowed disagreement and (mostly verbally) punished it. While in the tortoise case, I went from doing nothing in my childhood to doing something now (or at least last year until I gave up), in other cases it was the other way around. I remember my mum driving me to school at the age of six and her once again making a negative comment about foreigners. So I told her that I was starting to get the feeling that she hates foreigners. She denied it. Like two years ago, when she moved and shortly after some people moved into another empty flat in the same building, she called them Islamists because of how they look, told me not to get too close to them (not just because of the pandemic) and otherwise complained about their existence to me, all while standing in front of the building’s front door. And I of course didn’t speak my mind, my mouth remained shut as it is 99.9 % of the time. A similar incident that to me seemed to be the worst was like a year before that when she, my brother and I were invited to a meal at her parent’s house. Her sister who had separated from her husband and who worked with refugees apparently fell in love with one of them. I don’t know him, I also barely know my aunt, but it also seemed like my mum didn’t know him either but she vocally complained about her choice. How disrespectful, hateful and cold do you have to be to insult your own sister and her partner whom you don’t even know just because of where he was born? She’s one to talk regarding partners. And she says I don’t have empathy or feelings. I didn’t say anything either when my dad told me he uses electric shock collars on his dogs.

But I did go vegan after eating animal products for 20 years and I completely gave up cheese and meat even though they are my favourite foods. Until my dad recently introduced me to absolutely delicious pea-based meat that even he as a carnivore and my brother as a picky eater like. But it took me months to tell my grandparents to stop giving me meat every time we see each other and almost a year to tell my mum to stop giving me tons of milk, cheese and eggs every time we see each other. It was already not easy to convince her to accept that I’m a vegetarian and she said she would put me in a mental hospital if I also stopped eating milk, cheese and eggs. But when her fear to lose me and my brother to our dad was at her highest at the turn of the year and she was desperate to know how she could keep us on her side and not lose us to him, I told her that I’m a vegan and she immediately accepted it and stopped buying me animal products. I might be courageous enough to commit to going vegan as a connoisseur of the cheeses and meats by not buying them myself, but I’m not courageous enough to tell people to stop giving me their cheeses and meats to eat. It seems that what Jesus blatantly fails to appreciate is that it’s the people who are the problem to me.

One could also say that it’s courageous to attempt doing all this (as in this cover etc.) instead of simply doing what everyone does and what one’s parents planned for one’s life. To be one of the people who try something they’d like to try instead of just saying that it would be nice but never actually starting. But is that courageous or simply the only way for me to stay alive? Staying alive itself is courageous. It would be so much easier to just end it all. But is that courageous or am I simply unable to not live because my survival instincts and fear of pain leave me no choice? But I do have some things that make life worth living. Doing this and some really nice people. And I want to have at least some positive impact in this universe. Both by sharing the stuff I make that could maybe make some people happy and by being more courageous. I have to act when something happens that I disagree with. I might not be courageous but it is something I value and I want to work towards having more of.

Here I go, prattling on about the flowers again, sorry folks. Now I feel bad again and my armpits turned into leaky faucets, as always when I write about my mum for some reason. How did I get here again? Right, the Azelf battle cover.

Epilogue

I think the cover turned out alright. Not nearly as good as my favourite covers (Drenched Bluff, Pokémon Center, Ice Path) but maybe that’s just because I just like those songs more. Anyway, next up is Don’t Ever Forget for my brother’s birthday. I hope I’ll do that one justice.

I’ve been feeling very depressed most days. So much stuff has been happening. I’ve been under constant stress with only a couple short Atempauses since like almost a year. Or actually two years. I said the same a year ago. But I want to be happy, so I’ll just continue and stop thinking about that. Addendum from the next day: The constant nightmares make the nights nightmares as well. And in recent weeks, I’ve been feeling so bad again that I can’t fall asleep before at least 1 am, so, since a couple of days, I’ve been listening to Coldmirror/Ster/Jerma again to suppress the thoughts that keep me awake, a habit that I’ve had to follow for many years until like 2-3 years ago when I committed to a good steady sleep schedule and started reading again. And listening to something really helped me last night. I feel very (comaratively) well rested for the first time in a long time. And just now, the one potentially catastrophic issue I’ve been worrying about for a month has apparently been resolved and caused no issue at all. Besides terrifying me. But that lifted a heavy weight off my shoulders, now the “only” bad thing that’s still ahead of me in the near future is my wisdom teeth surgery at the end of the month. But I hope I’ll be able to enjoy some mostly carefree time for a bit until the appointment comes closer.

Another Callous Row character who caught my interest but whom I haven’t watched yet is Fishbowl, portrayed by itsSwishy. I already followed her anyway to make sure I don’t forget checking Fishbowl out and she’s been streaming recently as well, so I watched (listened to) the VODs while I drew and fideo edited. I recommend checking her out. In one of those streams, she played the Goodle Doodle olympics game and I immediately fell in love with the overworld theme, as I tweeted. It reminds me a little of DBZ TLoG2. The soundtrack is by Qumu, I recommend checking them out as well. And I’ve read on their website that they legally license their VGM covers through Soundrop which also gets them not only to regularly accessible sites like YT but also YT music, Spotify and such. And just as I discovered that, Soundrop decreased their price to only 1 $ per song. Maybe I should try that as well. I hate capitalism and the creative industries but if many people use Spotify it would be good if people could listen to my stuff there as well instead of having to use YT or downloading the files. And maybe I’ll receive a thousandth of a cent from Spotify, which I unfortunately need since we live in a society in hwhich people believe in the religion of finance. But that of course won’t stop me from allowing people to download and use my stuff or from uploading my stuff myself to the usual sites if it can’t be “legally” licensed.

👆 Links

Website: https://phal.io
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I’m on almost every site because I don’t want to exclude anyone, find out if I’m using the site you’re using here: https://phal.io/links

💾 Programmes Used

8-bit audio production: 0CC-FamiTracker https://github.com/HertzDevil/0CC-FamiTracker/releases
Pixel art: Aseprite https://www.aseprite.org/
Fideo editing: DaVinvi Resolve https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/
Screen recording, media conversion: FFmpeg https://ffmpeg.org/
Note visualisation: NSFPlay Synthesia https://github.com/HertzDevil/nsfplay/releases
Audio editing, playing back and timestamping original song to analyse: Tenacity https://github.com/tenacityteam/tenacity
Playing back original notes and instruments to analyse: LMMS https://lmms.io/
Extracting original music from game to analyse: VGMTrans https://github.com/vgmtrans/vgmtrans/releases

🎵 Music Used

Original song: Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum – Battle! (Azelf/Mesprit/Uxie) https://youtu.be/uD4zs_xaFBQ