Cover Songs in 8-Bit  Video Games CONFERENCE PRESENTATION FOR THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE STUDY OF POPULAR MUSIC...
Why  so many cover  songs,and why did  they disappear?
8-Bit ? Isn't that  like, so... 1984??
8-Bit Games  = Revolutionary  + Influential The  Apple  II was designed around  games
Commodore  brought PCs to the home  market through  GAMES 8-Bit Games  = Revolutionary + Influential
Techniques   developed by composers led to the creation of  modern  sequencing software . 8-Bit Games  = Revolutionary + I...
Not covering... “ artist”-based games
Not covering  Chiptunes
FOCUS Uses of other people's music (cover versions) in 8-Bit Games for seemingly “random” reasons....
What is 8-BIT? <ul><li>Bit = Binary Digit  (a 1 or 0) </li></ul><ul><li>“ X-bit” = number of simultaneous 1s or 0s the CPU...
I Am 8-Bit
I Am 8-Bit
I Am so  NOT  8-Bit
A Few  Examples  of  Cover Songs in  8-Bit Games <ul><li>licensed tracks </li></ul><ul><li>unlicensed pop covers </li></ul...
California Games  (1987)  (licensed Kingsmen)
Frantic Freddie (1983)  (unlicensed pop)
Int'l Karate (1986)  (unlicensed film)
Buffalo Bill (1989)  (traditional)
Acid Drop (1992)  (classical)
So,  why  covers?
8-bit sound chips <ul><li>2 or 3 tone  channels (usually + 1 noise) </li></ul><ul><li>subtractive synthesis </li></ul><ul>...
<ul><li>Up ‘N Down  (Sega 1983) </li></ul>Arcade Version
Atari VCS (2600) <ul><li>Up ‘N Down  (Sega 1984) </li></ul>
Editing the track to the technology... <ul><li>Remove or substitute  vocals </li></ul><ul><li>Loop  track </li></ul><ul><l...
And that's  just the hardware!
Making a “beep” in assembly <ul><li>Beep   PROC USES AX BX CX     IN AL, 61h  ; Save state     PUSH AX           MOV BX, 6...
What this meant ... <ul><li>Writing music was VERY  time  consuming. </li></ul><ul><li>Game developers didn't have time: p...
Geeks...
... are not Rock Stars.. .
The time to  development... and  the  lifecycle
In the game world, The programmer  was God . (Larson)
Note there was no  tying of music to  content  of  the game...
or a  rather  spurious connection at best... ...uh, Water Music?
Captain Comic  (Color Dreams 1988)
<ul><li>Captain Comic ’s songs: </li></ul><ul><li>Borrowing from classical music. </li></ul><ul><li>SHEET  music. </li></u...
Grey Areas are Great
Copyright's  “grey areas” in  the age of 8-Bit
A Summary: Why  Cover Songs? <ul><li>programmers  were not musicians </li></ul><ul><li>the programmers made the  decisions...
So...  Where have all the covers gone?
A Changing  Industry ...
Nintendo...a  Conscious Effort  to be Different
A New Game Music  Aesthetic
An attempt to  adapt ...(or emulate)
New Technology... Redbook  Audio in  Games
 
 
 
2007 Tarriff 22A
A Summary: Why did  covers (mostly) end  with 16-Bit? <ul><li>game  industry  had changed </li></ul><ul><li>game music had...
Still want more?? Ashgate, UK 2008 MIT Press, US 2008
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Cover Songs in 8-Bit Video Games

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Conference presentation-- 8-Bit video game cover songs-- for IASPM Canada 2008

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  • Cover Songs in 8-Bit Video Games

    1. 1. Cover Songs in 8-Bit Video Games CONFERENCE PRESENTATION FOR THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE STUDY OF POPULAR MUSIC (IASPM.CA). Karen Collins, University of Waterloo
    2. 2. Why so many cover songs,and why did they disappear?
    3. 3. 8-Bit ? Isn't that like, so... 1984??
    4. 4. 8-Bit Games = Revolutionary + Influential The Apple II was designed around games
    5. 5. Commodore brought PCs to the home market through GAMES 8-Bit Games = Revolutionary + Influential
    6. 6. Techniques developed by composers led to the creation of modern sequencing software . 8-Bit Games = Revolutionary + Influential
    7. 7. Not covering... “ artist”-based games
    8. 8. Not covering Chiptunes
    9. 9. FOCUS Uses of other people's music (cover versions) in 8-Bit Games for seemingly “random” reasons....
    10. 10. What is 8-BIT? <ul><li>Bit = Binary Digit (a 1 or 0) </li></ul><ul><li>“ X-bit” = number of simultaneous 1s or 0s the CPU can handle </li></ul><ul><li>an 8-bit computer can process 8 bits of data at the same time. </li></ul><ul><li>Approx 1970-1990 </li></ul>
    11. 11. I Am 8-Bit
    12. 12. I Am 8-Bit
    13. 13. I Am so NOT 8-Bit
    14. 14. A Few Examples of Cover Songs in 8-Bit Games <ul><li>licensed tracks </li></ul><ul><li>unlicensed pop covers </li></ul><ul><li>unlicensed film covers </li></ul><ul><li>traditional songs </li></ul><ul><li>classical music </li></ul>
    15. 15. California Games (1987) (licensed Kingsmen)
    16. 16. Frantic Freddie (1983) (unlicensed pop)
    17. 17. Int'l Karate (1986) (unlicensed film)
    18. 18. Buffalo Bill (1989) (traditional)
    19. 19. Acid Drop (1992) (classical)
    20. 20. So, why covers?
    21. 21. 8-bit sound chips <ul><li>2 or 3 tone channels (usually + 1 noise) </li></ul><ul><li>subtractive synthesis </li></ul><ul><li>some had envelope generators </li></ul><ul><li>some had set waveforms </li></ul><ul><li>coded in assembly or BASIC </li></ul><ul><li>Limited frequency ranges </li></ul>
    22. 22. <ul><li>Up ‘N Down (Sega 1983) </li></ul>Arcade Version
    23. 23. Atari VCS (2600) <ul><li>Up ‘N Down (Sega 1984) </li></ul>
    24. 24. Editing the track to the technology... <ul><li>Remove or substitute vocals </li></ul><ul><li>Loop track </li></ul><ul><li>Remove instrument parts </li></ul><ul><li>Simplify parts (e.g. Harmony) </li></ul><ul><li>Substitute notes </li></ul>
    25. 25. And that's just the hardware!
    26. 26. Making a “beep” in assembly <ul><li>Beep   PROC USES AX BX CX     IN AL, 61h  ; Save state     PUSH AX           MOV BX, 6818 ; 1193180/175     MOV AL, 6Bh  ; Select Channel 2, write LSB/BSB mode 3     OUT 43h, AL         MOV AX, BX         OUT 24h, AL  ; Send the LSB     MOV AL, AH         OUT 42h, AL  ; Send the MSB     IN AL, 61h     ; Get the 8255 Port Contence     OR AL, 3h             OUT 61h, AL  ; End able speaker and use clock channel 2 for input     MOV CX, 03h ; High order wait value     MOV DX 0D04h ; Low order wait value     MOV AX, 86h ; Wait service     INT 15h                 POP AX ; restore Speaker state     OUT 61h, AL     RET BEEP ENDP </li></ul>From Using Assembly Language by Allen L Wyatt From Using Assembly Language by Allen L Wyatt
    27. 27. What this meant ... <ul><li>Writing music was VERY time consuming. </li></ul><ul><li>Game developers didn't have time: product lifecycle short, competitive </li></ul><ul><li>Music was done by programmers * </li></ul>
    28. 28. Geeks...
    29. 29. ... are not Rock Stars.. .
    30. 30. The time to development... and the lifecycle
    31. 31. In the game world, The programmer was God . (Larson)
    32. 32. Note there was no tying of music to content of the game...
    33. 33. or a rather spurious connection at best... ...uh, Water Music?
    34. 34. Captain Comic (Color Dreams 1988)
    35. 35. <ul><li>Captain Comic ’s songs: </li></ul><ul><li>Borrowing from classical music. </li></ul><ul><li>SHEET music. </li></ul>Thanks to Will Gibbons at UNC for this note
    36. 36. Grey Areas are Great
    37. 37. Copyright's “grey areas” in the age of 8-Bit
    38. 38. A Summary: Why Cover Songs? <ul><li>programmers were not musicians </li></ul><ul><li>the programmers made the decisions </li></ul><ul><li>there was very little time </li></ul><ul><li>the technology made it difficult </li></ul><ul><li>copyright's grey areas made it easy </li></ul>
    39. 39. So... Where have all the covers gone?
    40. 40. A Changing Industry ...
    41. 41. Nintendo...a Conscious Effort to be Different
    42. 42. A New Game Music Aesthetic
    43. 43. An attempt to adapt ...(or emulate)
    44. 44. New Technology... Redbook Audio in Games
    45. 48. 2007 Tarriff 22A
    46. 49. A Summary: Why did covers (mostly) end with 16-Bit? <ul><li>game industry had changed </li></ul><ul><li>game music had matured and developed its own aesthetic (s) </li></ul><ul><li>technology had changed </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright laws more rigid </li></ul>
    47. 50. Still want more?? Ashgate, UK 2008 MIT Press, US 2008

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