Artist Decktonic, aka Christian Montoya, hovers over his sound machines, as neon-fantastic as his music sounds. Photo courtesy the artist; (CC-BY-NC) Ben Mason.

Retro-futuristic and Free: All DS-10 Music from Decktonic [Download, Video, CC]

A generation of gaming has done something to our ears. It has primed listeners to appreciate the sound of digital instruments in raw form: dry and immediate, crisply-synchronized machine dance music. So, while I wouldn’t call the music of Decktonic “chip music” or “game music,” somehow it’s a modern take on each. It’s retro-futuristic, electro-techno unadorned with effects. And, hell, while Korg’s DS-10 running on Nintendo DS is far from a high-fidelity sound experience, there’s something irresistibly funky about its sound. Listening to the DS-10 dry in the hands of a creative musician can be a cure for the ear …


Music Made with Korg iPolysix – And Nothing Else: Live Demos to iPad Chip Music

Doing more with less, and embracing limitations: it’s oft-repeated advice in music making. Maybe it’s repeated so often that it ceases to mean anything; I can find no harm in making music using the massive possibilities of a packed studio of gear or the endless depth of a computer. So, instead, doing more with less can be something you do just because it’s liberating. It means you can make music on a budget. It means you can make music when you’re on a bus with nothing but a first-generation iPad and a copy of Polysix. It can mean, psychologically, that …


Tokyo Blip: A Chip Music Interlude for Blip Festival

How do you prefer to compose? Pen and manuscript paper? Recording ideas from a piano? Firing up your favorite music software? How about … coding in 65c816 Assembly language? The trio behind this video prefers the latter, more intensive approach, to get close to the chip hardware by communicating directly with the Super NES. It’s one heck of a way to make an invitation to an event, but that’s just what they’ve done, in celebration of Blip Festival Tokyo 2012, in a kind of audiovisual spectacular. With code by Batsly Adams, music by Zabutom, and graphics by KeFF, the result …


Chip Grooves: SID 8-bit Hardware Groovebox Preview, Works with iPad Editor [Videos]

German maker Mode Machines has been busy in the cloning laboratory. The latest hardware melds the classic chip sounds of the SID chip with an x0x sequencer a la the Roland TB-303. That surely qualifies as the synth nerd equivalent of combining chocolate and peanut butter.


Interlude: Press This Button, Make it the 90s [Amiga]

Worsened by the iPhone 5 launch, I realize we’ve had an enormous run of all-Apple stories on the site recently. So, in the interest of keeping platform fights to a minimum, I think it’s only fair to give some space to the other creative platform, beginning with the letter A. Amiga. What else? (Oh, and Atari, I’ll get to you soon.) One floppy disk. One incredibly efficiently-coded demo. Result: it’s the 90s all over again. Thanks, Rutger. (Muller, not Hauer; the Dutch artist makes some great retro-tilted music of his own.) Back to our regularly-scheduled programming.


Game Boy Graphics, in Monochrome, Become The Canvas of a Music Video (Get the Tape!)

Play enough Game Boy – as some of you may have done in your childhood (or recently) – and you could start to dream in washed-out grayscale pixels. Artist David Stoll sends a music video that seems to emerge from that dream. David – aka The Beep – tells us this creation is “a demake 8-Bit Game Boy Music Video I’ve made recently and it features 8-Bit interpretations of a MPC 2000 and an SU-10.” Yes, incidentally, a “demake” is a thing. It repurposes the game visuals to produce something that treats the video pixels as a medium. I’ve said …


SJS-ONE: Open, Arduino-Based Synth, with Crazy Cases and Web Troubleshooting

SJS-ONE is an 8-bit synth that you add to an Arduino board, making it ideal for hardware and firmware tinkerers and lovers of unique monosynths. But we’ll give it bonus points for two other reasons. First, it has some really bizarre cases available as add-ons, which look a bit like punk birdhouses. (Birdhouse squats? Hot rodded bird tenant buildings?) Second, in a really clever move, they help you troubleshoot hardware issues with a Flash animation. It could make it clear even to a complete beginner how to use a multimeter (a measuring device that checks electrical connections). The Arduino design …


RetroCade Synth Board Re-programs Itself Into Atari, C64, Amiga [Open Source Hardware]

You know in sci-fi how you’ll see robots and other machines that can transform, re-program themselves on the fly for a new task? (Okay, sometimes they’re evil robots.) Well, imagine a single-board – looking a bit like an ultra-compact computer – that does that for sound, and you have the basic notion of the RetroCade Synth. For lovers of classic computer audio chips, and chip music associated with gaming and the demo scene, it means a single device that can be all those vintage sounds from the moment you switch it on. You can even leave the computer at home. …


Jack Tramiel’s Commodore 64, Atari ST in Music, Remembered, as Vision Lives On [Obituary, Gallery]

(CC-BY) Axel Tregoning. (CC-BY) Marcin Wichary. Jack Tramiel, who died this week, had as deep an impact on computer music for the everyday musician as just about any computing industry pioneer. While Jobs, Woz, Moore, Grove, and Gates get a lot of the attention, Tramiel’s legacy was in making computing affordable and accessible. As such, he was indispensable to the computing revolution, and his computers were early forebears of the digital music-making Renaissance. In an extraordinary microcosm of the 20th Century, Polish-born Tramiel escaped Auschwitz, served in the US army, and built the roots of the most successful desktop computer …


A Massive Bundle of Game Music, the Magical Machinarium Score, and the Quiet Indie Music Revolution

As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage. Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores …