I’ve recently come across the work of programmer and chiptune musician Pixelh8. For me, a lot of chiptune music sounds the same. I think that many artists allow themselves to be controlled by their devices more than they control the devices themselves. Although the chiptune scene is full of artists who frown on using anything other than a Gameboy (taking pride in their extensive knowledge of Nanoloop or LSDJ), my favorite producers are usually the ones who use a variety of instruments to achieve a broader sound.
Pixelh8 combines a variety of devices (including children’s keyboards, Commodore 64, and a SNES), but has even gone a step further by writing his own music program for the Gameboy. On his myspace blog, Pixelh8 described how he created the program in C. You can also see more of the Music Tech program in action on Hidden Fortress’s youtube page.
What makes the Music Tech program different is that it appears to turn your gameboy into a playable real time synth, as opposed to a step music sequencer. It looks like the device is played by assigning various notes to the directional pad and the A and B buttons. I wonder what the Konami cheat code would sound like (↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A).
If it is indeed played by using the directional pad, it could be fairly limited, however it would probably be really easy to convert the cartridge into a midi-playable. Essentially this program could be a gateway towards a Midi-NES for the Gameboy system… Let me wipe the drool from my chin.
On his blog, Pixelh8 pomises to cover the details on how to get your program onto a cartridge, but the last time he mentioned that was in January.
Pixelh8 also says that he is working on manufacturing his Music Tech Synthesizer and that sales of his cd’s will help him achieve that goal.
Whether or not that goal will actually happen anytime soon, I’d say that buying a copy of Videogames Ruined My Life off of his Myspace Page ($15.97 US which includes shipping worldwide) would be a good investment.
You can also download Pixel8’s Fish & Chips EP for free here.
For now we’ll just have to wait for part 3 of the youtube Music Tech videos.
edit: Pixelh8 just sent me a link to his Music Tech info page here. Check it out, you can play an online demo and place a pre-order for the cartridge or software!