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Do you consider chipmusic to be "retro"?

And if you don't, do you think it's a bad thing that chipmusic is considered "retro"?

This is something that has been bugging me for a while. I've read a bunch of conversations and articles around about how "chiptunes aren't retro" (This article seems like a good example) and I wonder, why is it so important to detach the "retro" tag from chip?

I do consider it to be retro, really. Aside from (certain) module formats, chipmusic isn't something you could categorize as new; especially since most of the time it is made through reusing hardware from several generations ago. That surely counts as something retro. And I don't think there's anything wrong with it being "retro"; I can't think of one reason for the association to be harmful for the concept of chipmusic. I mean, most of the time "retro" is used for good effect, right?

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Labels are silly to fret over. Now, is fakebit actually fake these days? Now that's an argument!


wink

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buffalo, NY

If anything most of the new chip music is new and novel!  It's bleeding edge. If we judged by the instrument, piano and guitar music would be ancient.  Hell the electric guitar is 80-90 years old now

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AANABAY01

i think of chip music where the composition is rote, automatic, and there to serve the effects and beats as retro.

proper demanding composition in any format will always be fresh

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If it's written to be like old game music I'd say yeah, but the stuff a lot of us do doesn't really fit that idea

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Can something be nostalgic if its older than it's performer?

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BOSTON

i think that its the same as the "zomg mario" tag: we hate it because 99% of the publicity chipmusic gets is via some combination of those two tired (and lazy) tropes. And then think, of the elite chiptune artists, what percentage have anything to do with either "retro" or VGM style? none probably?

whats funny is, i really think that the huge upsurge of dj cutman-esque* "ableton electro with vgm sounds" recently, zeldastep, etc is due to the constant mis-reporting of chiptune. "put a chiptune in the DJ" just didnt exist before then.

*no hate to cutman intended, hes been at it for a while and pretty much created that style

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The Hollow Earth

Retro-futurist

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rochester, ny

while i don't think the compositions are often "retro", i think what people often mean is that the SOUNDS that chip musicians use are dated. retro is just a kind way of saying dated, sometimes.

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vancouver, canada

in don't mind the term "retro", but at the same time "retro" is becoming less meaningful or useful anyway.

everything is retro in some way these days because trends are cyclical, and because everything new today probably has some basis in some other retro idea.  stylistically, "new" today 99% of the time just means repurposed/remixed old stuff.

i guess my personal reaction to the word "retro" depends on the speaker's intent.  retro can be great if it evokes whatever made the original retro thing great.  or, retro can mean kitschy and tacky.  take your pick.

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Lexington, KY

Everyone talks like the "retro" tag is a bad thing. Shit, when people at shows ask me what kind of music I play, I tell 'em, "Retro. Like fucking Pokemon." Typically, they're like, "FUCK! Gotta mosh to that."

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It's got a retro feel because the blips and bloops bring people back to the NES and GB days; but when used as a medium instead of a genre then you have to re-evaluate. Chipstep and modern fusions aren't retro because those are new genres. I'd argue that there is a genre of "chiptune" though; for instance I would say that Virt's style of composition is uniquely "chiptune" as far as genre goes.

If anyone asks though; chipmusic is a medium, method, and instrument rather than a genre.

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San Diego, CA

for this to be a meaningful conversation we kind of all have to agree on what "retro" means. to be honest I think this is less a conversation about chiptune and more a conversation about retro, because that's what everyone seems to be debating (judging by the fact that the word retro has quotation marks around it about 75 percent of the time it's used in the thread).

are we supposed to deem something retro based on artist intent? or are we talking purely aesthetically? because that's important -- I don't think my music is trying to be retro at all, but if you judge it aesthetically it's definitely a retro sound. I guess it IS retro-futurist but I don't go around calling my music that because that's pretentious as fuck hmm

it's probably some mix of the two (it always is), where the artist's intent has to be judged based on how he/she delivers the art. if the artist says that his/her music isn't retro but they don't do a very good job of convincing us aesthetically, then I'd say it's safe to call them retro. at the same time, if the artist is aesthetically modern, but he/she keeps calling themselves retro, I will disagree even if they're using old video game systems. music (and all art) is really a dialog between the artist and the audience, where the artist is trying to convince the audience of some reality being true or at least conceivable. if there's a dissonance between artist intent and audience reception, the art fails. the retro tag is really just an easy way for us to talk about art that references old stuff as a significant part of the artist's intent.

if you compare anamanaguchi to starscream (it's an easy example) I feel like the distinction becomes clearer. aesthetically, anamanaguchi is really retro (NES as the rock star, use of pixel art in a lot of their visuals, compositions that take advantage of the NES' sound) and I doubt that the artists involved will claim otherwise. starscream, on the other hand, is a band I would not call retro because aesthetically they aren't (videogame sounds fit neatly into drums + guitar without being overwhelming, use of HELVETICA and lack of pixel art in visual design, etc.) and they don't claim to be either. if you didn't know better you wouldn't even think that videogames were involved based on their sound because it's trying to be all post-rock and the videogame sounds are really just a means to an aesthetic end.

so the question stops being "is ALL of chipmusic retro" and starts becoming "is [artist] retro?" which is a more meaningful question to me. it's hard for me to conceive of a situation in which an entire medium is retro, i.e. danimal's post above, because if that were true then EVERY SINGLE ARTIST involved in that medium would have to both 1. have an intent that we could safely call retro and 2. succeed at convincing us that they are aesthetically retro. so I guess chillwave is retro smile

sorry for the essay sad

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uhajdafdfdfa

how many bands these days play entirely with instruments that weren't even invented until the 1980s? (ok skrillex)
how old is a drum kit
how old is a guitar
how old is the human voice

and they don't count as retro?

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I often describe my music in general as retro modern. Even when not composing chip tunes specifically my music style is still greatly influenced by the game soundtracks of the 8 and 16 bit era. Because of the limited number of channels and memory people back then needed to be good composers and programers to make the most out of it and produce something with very strong melodies. Today, most video game soundtracks sound like an atmospheric movie score to me. With the advent of CD/DvD/Blue Ray games and graphics becoming more and more realistic it is a natural progression when I really stop and think about it. However, anything with a strong melody rather than ambiance is usually something I gravitate towards. In that sense, my music often either has retro video game styled motifs, or some throw back to that era in the sounds themselves. I tell people that I use everything from ZX spectrum trackers to modern synths and/or a DS to make music,and those things just like any other insturment can make music on it's own or can be combined with other things to make music.

Retro is not something I have a problem with because in all honesty there is a distictive difference between the game soundtracks of the late 80's and mid 90's and those of today and I like it when people pick up on it. Because I was born in 1986 and with some of these tunes I go back and find them later because of the internet I find retro to be more accurate at least than "Sounds like mario".As with any other music, I find out who the composer is for a song I like and try to find other things by him or her just like I do with any other music related thing.

If the sounds in the music evoke nostalgia, then I don't have any problem with someone refering to my work as retro sounding at all.
With that said, I think "vintage" would be even cooler sounding. It has the conotation that something is not current but is still timeless. Nobody ever seems to put vintage guitars and cars in a bad light if they are well maintaned and still usable. I think the same could be said of older hardware and the inherent sounds it produces. Anoluage or digital, acoustic or electric. If it can make music and you have to put a real effort into it to make it happen then it's all good in my book. The thing I really don't care for is when people say that chiptunes aren't "real" music. These people are ignorant and should at least look into what really goes into making a chiptune before they dismiss it as a valid form of musical expression.

Neo-vintage? Using or incorperating old things to make new things tongue. Well hey I tried. I don't feel retro future is pretentious depending on how the phase is used, To me, it just congers up in image of what people in ealier times thought the future might be like, and so to me it's just the artist trying his or her intepretation of that musically or their version of what combining retro with ultra modern means to them. You of course take a risk when trying to describe new ideas but that's part of the fun of experimenting and self expression. .

Whatever discriptive words one can think of to help prepare listners for what's comming in their song is up to the artist and his or her vision of what they have created. I can nit pick at what I think a style or genre is, or I can try to keep an open mind and look at what the artist says or thinks and try to get into their mindset and viewpoint with a goal of learning from them no matter thier experince or medium. I try as hard as I can to take this approch, but I am still an imperfect human with bias and preferences just like anyone else smile.

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Gosford, Australia
ant1 wrote:

how many bands these days play entirely with instruments that weren't even invented until the 1980s? (ok skrillex)
how old is a drum kit
how old is a guitar
how old is the human voice

and they don't count as retro?

i think the difference is that none of those things have ever been a novelty, at least not in the last 100 years

Last edited by Victory Road (Feb 25, 2012 2:22 am)