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Author Topic: I want to make chiptune music  (Read 5594 times)

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Offline DarkestEx

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I want to make chiptune music
« on: June 12, 2016, 06:51:35 pm »
Hello guys (and girls)!

After my last post got eaten by a session timeout and I don't feel like rewriting it entirely, here's the short form:

I want to make chiptune music and bought a special YAMAHA keyboard from eBay UK, the only place I could find it for an acceptable price (and find at all, as it's quite rare already).
The device I bought is a YAMAHA PortaSound PSS-470:


This keyboard features the wavetable synthesizer that was used in the SoundBlaster ISA audio cards back in the late 80's to early 90's that many DOS games used for sound. It was called the YAMAHA YM3812.
The wavetable synthesizer chip has 9 voices (or 6 voices and 5 drum sounds) and sounds really amazing (I assume even better than the one of my C64).
Another speciality of the keyboard is, that it allows manually adjusting the registers of the synthesizer chip using slide switches and therefore allows creation of these retro sounds and not just the standard piano sounds.

I don't have any experience playing the piano yet, but I am willing to learn it myself as far as possible. Any suggestions for me?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2016, 10:05:58 pm by DarkestEx »


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Offline p4nix

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2016, 07:00:42 pm »
Good luck!
Just keep practicing. Learn how to read notes if you can't do that already. I wouldn't really recommend things like Synthesia, but maybe they can help too. Playing from sheet is much less hassle once you learned it, at least that's my opinion.
Try to be able to play some songs which are already 8-bittish.

Then you can try out your own stuff. Keep in mind that you can use all the technical tricks if you are doing 8bit music, so you dont have to play all music at the same time like a regular pianist.

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Offline DarkestEx

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2016, 07:40:11 pm »
Good luck!
Just keep practicing. Learn how to read notes if you can't do that already. I wouldn't really recommend things like Synthesia, but maybe they can help too. Playing from sheet is much less hassle once you learned it, at least that's my opinion.
Try to be able to play some songs which are already 8-bittish.

Then you can try out your own stuff. Keep in mind that you can use all the technical tricks if you are doing 8bit music, so you dont have to play all music at the same time like a regular pianist.

Have fun, and never gonna give you up!
Thanks for the tips!
Initially I was thinking about going for Synthesia, but reading notes is probably better, and yes, I played quite a few classical instruments already (and gave up most of them within one year - one after another, not any of them simultaneously) namely Drums, Guitar, Recorder, Saxophone, so I know how to read notes by now.

I hope that I can use technical tricks as far as possible, but the keyboard is a little limited there, as it can (probably) only do the drums by its own, but I will see.
I can also always mod the keyboard if I need more functions.
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Offline Juju

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2016, 09:15:27 pm »
Oooh, a FM synth!

Be able to read sheet music is always a plus. Personally, I took piano courses for a few years, but, well, that was a few years ago. I always have my M-Audio keyboard plugged to my computer, I open GarageBand up and I play with it. Speaking of GarageBand, you can always use DAWs like this, open up some MIDI files you found on the internet and start reading the notes. With some practice, you'll become a pro. Then, if you plug the stereo output to the mic port of your computer, you can record it for all to listen, maybe even add some effects with GarageBand, FL Studio or similar software.
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Offline aeTIos

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2016, 09:18:00 pm »
Darkest, that's pretty darn awesome. Remember: You don't have to use a keyboard for making chiptune; the real beauty is using a tracker :) But I can't wait to see what you come up with! :D
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Offline garvalf

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2016, 09:41:59 pm »
The OPL2 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_YM3812) chip is pretty cool. I wish I could get such a synth once, but I don't think it's the best tool for making chiptunes: first, I don't think it has midi plug, which mean you'll only be able to play it live (it can be great as well), you can't program music with it. Second, I'm not sure it can do all you'd be able to do with an adlib soundcard.

Anyway, this PSS470 is quite famous, and it seems some people managed to add midi to it: http://forum.highlyliquid.com/showthread.php?t=1152

It's also possible to create / get midibox dedicated to the production of opl2 or opl3 sounds:
http://www.ucapps.de/midibox_fm.html

If you're really in chiptunes and FM music, you can have a look at this tracker:
http://www.adlibtracker.net/

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Offline xlibman

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2016, 01:14:49 pm »
That's a nice keyboard @DarkestEx . I have a keyboard myself but it's very basic. I'm glad you found one that can be handy for chiptunes music.

As for computer-generated chiptune music there is also Famitracker if you want to make NES music.
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Offline DarkestEx

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2016, 11:47:09 pm »
That's a nice keyboard @DarkestEx . I have a keyboard myself but it's very basic. I'm glad you found one that can be handy for chiptunes music.

As for computer-generated chiptune music there is also Famitracker if you want to make NES music.
Thanks :)

Oooh, a FM synth!

Be able to read sheet music is always a plus. Personally, I took piano courses for a few years, but, well, that was a few years ago. I always have my M-Audio keyboard plugged to my computer, I open GarageBand up and I play with it. Speaking of GarageBand, you can always use DAWs like this, open up some MIDI files you found on the internet and start reading the notes. With some practice, you'll become a pro. Then, if you plug the stereo output to the mic port of your computer, you can record it for all to listen, maybe even add some effects with GarageBand, FL Studio or similar software.
OK thanks for suggesting; I will try.
I will also be taking occasional (paied) piano lessons soon.

Darkest, that's pretty darn awesome. Remember: You don't have to use a keyboard for making chiptune; the real beauty is using a tracker :) But I can't wait to see what you come up with! :D
:)
I know, but the keyboard is just so much nicer than a tracker in my opinion ;)

The OPL2 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_YM3812) chip is pretty cool. I wish I could get such a synth once, but I don't think it's the best tool for making chiptunes: first, I don't think it has midi plug, which mean you'll only be able to play it live (it can be great as well), you can't program music with it. Second, I'm not sure it can do all you'd be able to do with an adlib soundcard.

Anyway, this PSS470 is quite famous, and it seems some people managed to add midi to it: http://forum.highlyliquid.com/showthread.php?t=1152

It's also possible to create / get midibox dedicated to the production of opl2 or opl3 sounds:
http://www.ucapps.de/midibox_fm.html

If you're really in chiptunes and FM music, you can have a look at this tracker:
http://www.adlibtracker.net/
Yes, I know it doesn't come with MIDI, but that one can actually be added relatively easily, as your link suggests.
I will also have a look at the tracker until the keyboard arrives.
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Offline xlibman

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2016, 11:50:17 pm »
Does it at least have an audio-out?
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Offline DarkestEx

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2016, 11:51:13 pm »
Does it at least have an audio-out?
Of course it does ;)
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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2016, 11:53:26 pm »
Ok phew. We never know. It would suck if your future nice music had to be recorded with a microphone.
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Offline Juju

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2016, 06:46:08 am »
Reminds me, I was playing with this SID* emulator library for my Arduino and I made it to work with a MIDI library, so I can send MIDI commands from my piano or MIDI-compatible software over the serial port and it plays some nice chiptunes ^_^ I should upload something about that someday.

*For those who don't know, it's the Commodore 64's sound chip.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2016, 06:47:39 am by Juju »
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Offline DarkestEx

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2016, 10:14:24 am »
Reminds me, I was playing with this SID* emulator library for my Arduino and I made it to work with a MIDI library, so I can send MIDI commands from my piano or MIDI-compatible software over the serial port and it plays some nice chiptunes ^_^ I should upload something about that someday.

*For those who don't know, it's the Commodore 64's sound chip.
Nice! Though the real SID chip sounds really awesome. I heard you cannot fully emulate the sound of it and I think so too, having an original C64c to compare.

Also the mailman just showed up and brought my keyboard with him :D
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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2016, 04:32:25 pm »
Reminds me, I was playing with this SID* emulator library for my Arduino and I made it to work with a MIDI library, so I can send MIDI commands from my piano or MIDI-compatible software over the serial port and it plays some nice chiptunes ^_^ I should upload something about that someday.

*For those who don't know, it's the Commodore 64's sound chip.
Yes, you should do ^^

Reminds me, I was playing with this SID* emulator library for my Arduino and I made it to work with a MIDI library, so I can send MIDI commands from my piano or MIDI-compatible software over the serial port and it plays some nice chiptunes ^_^ I should upload something about that someday.

*For those who don't know, it's the Commodore 64's sound chip.
Nice! Though the real SID chip sounds really awesome. I heard you cannot fully emulate the sound of it and I think so too, having an original C64c to compare.

Also the mailman just showed up and brought my keyboard with him :D
Yeah I was always skeptical about sound emulation for any console. Even SNES sound emulation can be hit and miss, because when you record the music some instruments either aren't as loud as others or there's a lot of clipping. And for 8-bits platforms the sound is often different and effects might not work. It's usually better to record directly from the real thing, but sometimes it's impossible if you don't have the original hardware.


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Offline DarkestEx

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Re: I want to make chiptune music
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2016, 06:47:32 pm »
* DJ Omnimaga hopes DarkestEx has fun with his keyboard.
Thanks, I will certainly have :)

So I will add a MIDI and an USB interface to the keyboard soon and already bought the connectors.
The plan is to use an Atmel ATmega 32U4 or an ATmega 328p, but I am not sure yet, which one I will use.
Probably I will go for the ATmega 32U4, as it has as native USB interface and could also emulate a keyboard, so that I can use it (more easily) in synthesia.
Otherwise a way cheaper Arduino Pro Mini could be used.
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