Subway Sonicbeat wrote:

Guess you have a big point here! This makes sense to me. A lot. Maybe I was seeing from another angle.
But hey, Im not the guy who tries to be right whatever, I agree with you here and say I was wrong on that one. It is rebellion if I want change, right? Sometimes I end up trying to be devil's advocate and then I'm wrong. Otherwise we would all be rich and famous. Just a different kind of rebellion.

But then I ask: What are we rebelling against? I'm definetly going to think about that in the next few days.

I mean yeah, I think we are making a strong statement, in aggregate, against something. What exactly is hard to say. But I don't mean to minimize the role of nostalgia, that's a big part of chiptune too.

Chiptune is punk but punk is dead so chiptune is not that punk I guess ?!

my opinion punk rock not dead. as long there is electric guitars there be punk rock. also long there people who light simple electronic sound there be chip tunes

Last edited by spark300c (February 1, 2017 1:33 am)

I've always thought this too, but didn't know who else though the same. So here's my take on this.

I don't think 8-bit (or chiptune) has as much to do with the culture as it does the sound. I claim that there is one waveform in particular responsible for the entire feel and aesthetic of chiptune. How can one sound be responsible? Perhaps it has the same affect on everyone who hears it.

This sound is the pinnacle of the genre, and if we took this specific sound away, chiptune would cease to be itself. This is the pulse wave.

The pulse, with its abrupt changes in voltage, sharp shape, and ominous mood is made of all odd harmonics of the fundamental frequency. To my knowledge, nothing in nature can be modeled after this mysterious wave. It is the heartbeat of all digital electronics. The duty cycle can be altered, thereby changing the texture of the sound. Even though there are infinitely many duty cycles of this wave (every value between 0%-100%), we are familiar with the ones the gameboy can produce (75%, 50%, 25%, 12.5%)

50% Duty Cycle - The Square Wave

The square wave is special because it spends equal amounts of time being high and low. A perfect geometry. I propose that every American born on or after 1980 (perhaps earlier) has heard this sound at some point in their life whether it be driving to work, or microwaving pop tarts, playing video games, or whatever. It's the sound of digital life. What does it have to do with rock?

The guitar produces a sound far richer than the square wave, having even and odd harmonics; it is a warm tone. However, when the warm sound of the guitar is fed through an amp, and overdriven, the smooth sine wave oscillations are cut off at the tops, the even harmonics disappear, and what's left is our friend, the square wave.

Lots of alt rock, metal, punk depend on overdrive or fuzz to give it its harsh tone, but the square wave is embedded in all of it. Chiptune, when made with lots of squares, and structured in a certain way does have a teen rock, alt rock feel to it. But guitars aren't digital, and so, when chiptune is made to sound like computer music with lots of abrupt ON and OFF changes, it just sounds like video game music.

25% Duty Cycle - The Thin Wave

The 'Thin' is near and dear to most of us hardcore NES fans. This particular duty cycle has a richer harmonic content than the square wave because of its unbalanced geometry, and so many may argue that it sounds better than the square, but it is a matter of personal tastes. The game developer Capcom in their early days, made this waveform popular with their Mega Man series, the soundtrack employs it heavily. It is important to understand that most of 80's video game music was patterned after rock with it's progressions, riffs, and beats.

12.5% Duty Cycle - The Slim Wave

Finally, the 'Slim' with it's spacey almost nonexistent sound, sadly (I believe) doesn't have as much impact on the punk sound of chiptune as the other two duty cycles, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't give the genre personality.

In conclusion, I think there is a certain 'rebellious' tone to chiptune...this idea of taking what is meant to be used for playing games on and re-purposing it as a musical instrument. The lo-fi sounds have a certain distorted feel to them. But the pulse waves restore a sense of innocence to it all.

Those are the same widths hard wired into the minimoog.

chunter wrote:

Those are the same widths hard wired into the minimoog.

new thread - chipmusic and prog aesthetics


It's funny you mention the square wave and guitars. Whenever I hear a square wave in a song- especially PWM or thin pulse squares- I think of guitars too big_smile When I hear 50% squares I think of more of a piano type sound though, unless it is arping smile

BitCruncher wrote:

I claim that there is one waveform in particular responsible for the entire feel and aesthetic of chiptune. How can one sound be responsible? Perhaps it has the same affect on everyone who hears it.

If only it were that simple. It's not entirely accurate. Especially for the Commodore 64 crowd which pre dates the NES and Gameboy. That thing used PWM's all over the map, and other sound waves.

Also, what about all the chiptunes that don't use square waves at all for their composition? Many Sega Genesis and FM Arcade games that avoid simple square and pulse waves altogether. Yet they are entirely authentic chiptunes and have a unique "chiptune" aesthetic and feel without square waves.

My claim is that the "feel and aesthetic" of chiptunes is entirely subjective to each individual and what they grew up with. So your claim is incomplete, and does not apply to necessarily everyone, such as the demoscene crowd in the UK with their crazy C64 and Amiga music.

But technically, yes, if a person grew up with an NES and a Gameboy only, then the 50% square is commonly used on those game.

So I would agree that the majority of people in the US who were raised with only Gameboys might have the misconception that square waves are "defining" of chiptunes. The truth of the matter is that most gamers, at least, in the US have heard other chiptunes that don't make heavy use, or any use of square waves, like SNES, Genesis, Amiga, TB-16, etc.

(P.S. Yes, I know it's possible to produce 50% square waves on all those systems, but they were not used all the time like on NES and GB)

Video games, computer systems, and a lot of consumer electronics were conceived of during the early childhood, teen years,  and early adulthood of those people who are the same people who conceived of punk music.

I'm young, but from what I can hear from my dad, who plays bass, It was common to jam with friends, then play video games, watch cartoons, and maybe smoke a doob.

I bet a lot of chip musicians were into punk rock when it was in it's hay-day, and still are. So they make music that sounds like punk rock. And they talk about things that punk rockers talk about.