I commissioned a lathe cut vinyl to 'preview' the album and they sent me a photo of the record in clear vinyl (I requested this because it's one of the campaign stretch goals, although I designed an alternate label in a darker color scheme which will look better) and I'm in love.

Quick note: the print job is amateur and nothing like the final product will be. This guy makes great sounding records but is not a graphics guy (by his own admission)!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Love the cover art! Rocking out to it right now and the beats and pitch bends are fantastic. First track is very "Hiroyuki Iwatsuki".

Dark_Bit_ wrote:

Wow! Jusz listened to the track and I gotta say, I am deeply impressed. Good stuff!

Thanks! I've been working on the album since last summer, it better be at least half decent, haha!

Here's a mockup showing a better look at the vinyl:

Orgia Mode wrote:

Good stuff. Really wish it weren't instrumental tho.

There are few people in this world capable of capturing the quality of Jeff Mangum's voice - I am not one of them, haha. I did a lot of manual volume and pitch changes on the lead to capture the feel though!

I just finished a chiptune album covering the entirety of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" and am putting together a Kickstarter to launch at the end of February for the the release - I'll be pressing the album to vinyl and I've created a ton of cool artwork for it! Here's the title track along with some mockups of the vinyl package.

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (NES Arrangement)

This is the standard vinyl package (pending upgrades depending on stretch goals).

And this is the 'special edition' which will include the vinyl press, of course, plus an 18x24" poster, additional album downloads, a physical copy of my previously released "8-Bit Jesus" album and four pixel art prints based on the album theme!

They look better on a white background, but you get the idea...

39

(11 replies, posted in Constructive Criticism)

Nice, good to know! Maybe I'll venture out of my FL Studio bubble!

40

(11 replies, posted in Constructive Criticism)

I haven't used Cakewalk since probably around '97. I bet a lot has changed, would be curious to check it out. But I'm a creature of habit - FL Studio does so much more than I need it to do but I'm used to the interface so I haven't ventured too far out. I tried getting into Ableton back when I wanted to DJ but that was a very short lived endeavor. Does the version of Cakewalk you use allow you to set up custom Midi controls? What is the event editor like (for manually adjusting volume, pitch, etc)?

41

(11 replies, posted in Constructive Criticism)

Nice, I used to be a in a blue/rock/reggae band! It was good times but I've always felt like more of a studio musician so chiptunes are perfect for me. I've been playing piano since I was a kid but have always preferred piano roll composition since the 90's. My mother was a musician and she got us a new family computer just to be able to compose Midi based tracks in Cakewalk and naturally, I took an interest. What's funny is, I would compose tracks in Cakewalk, post them online, and people would assume that I had played them on the piano live so I felt the need to learn them on piano as well and that actually helped me improve my piano playing.

42

(11 replies, posted in Constructive Criticism)

Awesome, looking forward to hearing it! I've only worked with the NES extensively and I love finding ways to work around the limitations but I've also used the sounds in more complex tracks. I used to compose a lot of techno-sounding tracks when I first got into using DAW's like FL Studio - mainly using samples from others along with FL plugins. I have a large library of poorly sampled but excellently composed tracks on my HD lol.

43

(11 replies, posted in Constructive Criticism)

Definitely very techo! I don't know a whole lot of artists from the genre but I've listened to a lot of Crystal Method, Juno Reactor and Deadmau5 and this has a good bit of those wrapped up in the sound for using basic sound generation. Which consoles did you use for this? I've dabbled with NES, GB and have used SNES and Megadrive soundfonts a lot to accompany 16-it style animations.

As far as feedback, anything I would offer is a matter of personal preference. You have a very specific sound here that wouldn't warrant any glitching or crazy use of common chip features - I'm the same way in the sense that I'm more of a composer/arranger than a chip-artist. I use some creative techniques when the limited channels or lack of polyphony warrant it but overall, I focus on the notes and adding depth through pitch bends and volume changes.

I guess if I could offer anything it would be to do more fine tuning and 'grunt work' on those types of parameters but as techo is a repetitious genre by nature, I'm not sure the track would benefit at all. Honestly, if you didn't mention it, I wouldn't hear this and think "this is a chiptune" which is good if it's intended but, for the purists out there, may be too far from the core principles of chiptunes to appease them.

Good job on your first track! Looking forward to hearing more stuff. I would love to hear a Juno Reactor or Crystal Method cover from you that doesn't stray as far from the more blippy, bleepy and bloopy qualities but hey, keep doing what you want, that's the best part about being an artist!

I second this. I have Catskull's Teensyboy Pro and it's very well made. I highly recommend any of their products!

45

(6 replies, posted in Releases)

Thoroughly impressed with this! I haven't ventured outside of 4 and 5 channel chips but I use these techniques on single channels a lot. Crazy that you did all this with just the one monophonic square. What other parameters do you have access to for this? Duty cycle? Pitch? Anything else?

46

(604 replies, posted in Releases)

I've been working on a cover album of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" for about 6 months now. I'm just about finished the tracks and am currently securing the rights to release while getting feedback from friends. The reactions have been great so far (one friend gave it a standing ovation in my living room, haha). Here are the first two tracks (they blend together).

I also have been working on the album art. Here are the most recent version of the front and back cover:

Most people here will get the name "In The RP2A Over The Sea".

If you're not familiar with the original album, you can listen to the same first two tracks here:

I recently acquired a Teensyboy with mGB and am attempting to send MIDI control signals via my DAW (FL Studio). Thus far, I've set up all of the custom CC's found in the mGB documentation on GitHub and have been able to use them all with success.

However, I can't seem to draw in manual volume changes on the event editor. For MidiNES, this works nicely by drawing the changes in the event editor for the DAW's channel volume parameter (or the custom CC#7 master volume) but I can't find the appropriate CC or parameter for the DMG/mGB setup. Drawing on the channel volume control does nothing.

Anyone know how to do this or is it only possible to do limited volume changes via the volume envelope?

I've also tried changing the values of the volume envelope across the duration of notes to get something resembling manual volume control but any values I draw in only seem to effect the note's beginning parameters. Any help would be much appreciated, thanks!

PULSE CHANNEL COMPOSITION TECHNIQUES PART 1: VOLUME

For this section, I'll be focusing specifically on the MIDI CC's associated with the volume control of the two pulse channels and how to implement them for a variety of note styles. Now that we know how the controls effect the volume, we can apply them in various combinations to achieve desired results. How you assign each control to the channel will depend on your DAW but here is how it's done in FL Studio:

Adding Controls to the Event Editor in FL Studio

First off, look for this row of icons and open the browser (by default, it'll open up on the left side of the workspace).

Expand the following menus: CURRENT PROJECT > GENERTORS > MIDI OUT > PULSE 01 (or whatever you named the channel you're editing, but for starters, we'll be editing events for Pulse 01). Once you expand the channel name, you'll see the names of all of the custom controls you created. Right-click any of these and you'll get a pop-up with the option to 'edit events in piano roll'. Upon selecting this, the bottom pane of the piano roll window should expand and you'll see an empty grid where you'll be drawing all of your values. Alternatively, if the event editor is already expanded, you can drag and drop the control name into the event editor pane. It is within this pane that we will be assigning all of our control values and any values entered will apply to the notes directly above them in the piano roll portion of the piano roll window. The control values appear like a bar graph and any value entered will remain up to the end of the track until a different value is entered further in the timeline. They also lock to the same note segment divisions that the notes do so if you have 'step' selected, setting a value in the event editor will create a bar as wide as full step intervals. The grid in the event editor will also change as different lengths of step are selected (much like the grid in the piano roll does) so upon selecting 1/2 step, for example, the grid divisions will double. Selecting the correct step length will be important when drawing in the event editor because we want the contols to apply to the same intervals as the notes, or some evenly divided fraction thereof. It takes some getting used to drawing in the event editor but you'll get the hang of it.

Also, at any point after you've chosen a particular control from the browser to edit in the piano roll, you can access it again more quickly by right-clicking within the empty area to the left of the event editor grid (and below the piano graphic) and selecting that control from the pop-up menu. Alternatively, you can select it from a drop down menu in the title bar of the piano roll window. By default, this will have 'velocity' shown but it will always show the name of the control you are currently editing in the event editor. All previously added controls will be shown in either menu (pop-up or drop down) along with the channel they're associated with so after adding the 'duty cycle' control for pulse 01, for example, it will be listed as "Pulse 01 - Duty Cycle" in these menus and you can select them more quickly than going to the browser every time. You will also be able to select the channel volume, channel pitch, or note velocity via these menus at any time (they won't be in the generators list as they're not specific, custom CC signals).

If you're following along with this guide in your DAW and want to learn by doing, these are the values to apply to both pulse channels at this point:

- Channel Volume = 127
- Channel Pitch = 0 cents
- Duty Cycle (CC#1) = 64 (50%)
- Length Envelope (CC#9) = 127
- Loop Envelope = (CC#10) 127
- Volume Envelope (CC#11) = 127

These values create solid notes with full volume and sound like the leads in the 'Super Mario Bros.' and 'The Legend of Zelda' themes. These are also the values I apply at the start of just about every track I create as a standard and then I build upon them (or change them, but usually, I'm not certain how I'll be manipulating the parameters until I at least have a melody laid out).

Okay, onto the volume related techniques!

SOLID NOTES WITH A DELAY EFFECT

A common style of note you'll hear a lot in classic NES tracks is delay. Delay is essentially an 'echo' of the note that is commonly done in commercial tracks with effects generators. Of course, we don't have anything like that built into the NES, so we have to get creative. You could run your track through a delay filter during or after recording the track (or track parts) but it's not a 'pure' technique as it wouldn't be possible to create this with the original hardware alone. We're trying to utilize the hardware, not take the easy way out!

Delay Utilizing Both Pulse Channels

The easiest way to create a delay or echo effect is to lay down notes (at 100% note velocity) to create a part on one pulse channel, copy and paste them onto the other pulse channel, then move them forward in the track a small amount. Next, decrease the note velocity of all of these duplicate notes to the desired value. I usually go with about 50% velocity as that is still loud enough to hear with other parts in the track playing but quiet enough to not sound like the initial part is just repeating itself. Occasionally, I'll set it to 75% or 25% but anything below 25% is going to be too quiet and anything above 75% will be too loud to give a proper delay/echo effect. You can move the lower velocity notes on the second pulse channel around a bit to get the delay timing you want.

For this example, the green notes are at 100% velocity and the pink are at 50%. Top is pulse 01 and bottom is pulse 02.


You'll notice that compared to the following decay effects, this one makes the full velocity notes much louder due to the fact that the notes overlap. It's also important to point out that both pulse channels for this type of delay effect need to have the same duty cycle (CC#1) value or else it won't sound right as you'll have a different sound for the echo than for the full velocity sequence.

You can hear this type of delay effect used in the "Shadowgate" soundtrack. The one downside is that you have to occupy both pulse channels to achieve this.

Delay On One Pulse Channel

While the effect won't be quite as effective in creating true delay, it is also possible to create a delay effect without utilizing both pulse channels, freeing up the second pulse channel for other parts. To do this, lay down the notes of your part but decrease the length of each note by a small amount by dragging the tail end back and shortening the note length. Then add a new note into the empty space after each note in the sequence (but ending before the beginning of the next note) that is at a lower note velocity (again, I usually go with 50%). This will play a short 'echo' of each note directly after it ends and give the impression of delay. Again, it's not as effective as using the second pulse channel as I detailed in the last few paragraphs, but it works nicely and with other channels playing along within the context of a full composition, the difference is less noticeable.

Feel free to experiment with the point at which the 100% velocity notes end and the lower velocity note portions begin and how long they continue. You can also add multiple notes after each full velocity note at varying descending velocities (eg 100% velocity note followed by three short notes with 75%, 50% and 25% velocities, respectively), with the last of those three ending before the next note begins. Doing it this way creates a smoother volume transition.

You can hear this type of delay in the lead part of this arrangement of "Bixby Canyon Bridge" by Death Cab For Cutie I created at 1:35 into the track.

Extended Delay Effects Using One Pulse Channel

For the previous delay examples, the delay effect was more subtle since the lower velocity notes followed closely after the full velocity notes and ended before the next note in the sequence in each instance, but on sequences with shorter notes that have some space between them, we can add lower velocity notes corresponding to their full velocity predecessors after later notes in the sequence so that the 'delay' is heard later on. This creates a longer delay time between the initial notes and their echoes.

For this and the next example, I changed up the tune so that instead of the longer note at the beginning of the first three measures, similar sets of the shorter notes in the fourth measure were inserted.

You can hear a version of this type of delay effect in this arrangement of "Another Life" by Kano that I created during the opening few measures. However, I also implemented a secondary technique in this track that I'll cover next, which divides each full velocity note in the sequence into two shorter ones and lowers the velocity of the second of that pair, then the corresponding delay note uses the same technique but the note velocities of the pair are significantly lower than those in the initial, full velocity pair.

Complex Extended Delay Effects With One Pulse Channel

As I just mentioned, you can divide each full velocity note in an extended delay sequence into two shorter ones, lower the velocity of the second, and do this for every note in the sequence. Prior to creating the delay note pairs, you can clearly hear how each note has a subtle delay on its own since we added the lower velocity notes directly following the full velocity notes (similar to the Delay On One Pulse Channel section above). Once you copy and paste the second pair for the echoes, reduce the velocity of all of them at once. If, for example, you have 100% and 50% for each initial note and reduced the velocity to 50% on all of the echo notes, they will have 50% and 25% velocity values respectively. This is my go-to for velocity values in this type of delay effect.

In this example, the additional blue notes are at 25% velocity.

Combining Delay Effects

Obviously, you can use any combination of the above to achieve various results. Perhaps longer notes have a simple delay while shorter notes use the 'complex extended delay' technique. The potential for delay on a single pulse channel or both adds a nice depth to any track that is sure to spruce it up!

SOLID NOTES WITH MANUALLY DRAWN DECAY

As described in the last section, you can do volume changes manually by drawing the values in the event editor (as it's known in FL Studio) or with the built in volume and loop envelopes. Here, I'll show you how to do it manually while working with otherwise solid notes.

As a point of interest, you could even use this technique instead of the delay effect techniques outlines above by manually drawing in the appropriate volume channel changes where the duplicate 'echo' notes would be. See the comparison of this to the 'Delay On One Pulse Channel' below.


So why would you want to do this instead of via note velocity?

The main advantage to this method is it will be much smoother sounding. Notes played on the pulse channels have what's called a 'note on' velocity. That is, if you play notes in succession, you'll hear the beginning of each note with a bit of 'punch' to it because the initial volume you hear when the note is first played is different from the volume you hear as the note continues to play. However, if you use the event editor to change the channel volume instead, that extra 'punch' won't be heard anywhere you change the volume over the course of a single note as it's only heard at the start of each note. This difference is more noticeable on shorter notes since hearing a punch near the end of a long note isn't as jarring as hearing that punch very soon after the first.

The downside is, you have to draw in the channel volume changes manually throughout your track if you can't copy and paste control values in your DAW, whereas you can always copy notes along with their associated values and paste them where you like to repeat parts. Manually drawing the values will mean a lot more work but a cleaner, smoother result.

Creating Decay on Solid Notes

Using the event editor to create decays can be time consuming but is necessary for notes that you want to fade out over the course of a longer duration than the volume envelope allows. The automatic decay on pulse channels can be set to anywhere between a fraction of a second and up to a little more than one second (these times aren't associated with the actual control values but consider that if value 127 would give you a decay time of a little over a second then a value of 64 will give you about a half second, and so on). This isn't a long period of time so if, for example, you want a long lingering note as part of a chord, or part of a lead that fades out slowely as other parts play to the end of a few measures, you would need to draw that in manually.

For the sake of this example, let's say we have a whole note that we want to fade out. At 160BPM, that whole note will last 1.8 seconds and using the volume envelope will have it ending more than a quarter measure before the note plays all the way through. But we want it to last for the entire measure so we have to draw the value in the event editor.

For these examples, I inserted a whole note into the first three measures.

If you want a linear decay (decay with a constant rate) then you should draw each step along the duration of the note at even intervals. This most closely mimics the way the volume envelope creates decay.

If you want a note that lasts a little longer then decays quickly near the end, draw a curve that is shallower at the beginning of the note and steeper near the end.

And likewise, of you want a quick decay at the beginning and the note to last longest at a lower volume, it should be a steeper progression of steps at the front end and shallower as it nears the end of the note.

Remember that you won't hear anything between values 0 and 7 so be sure to keep the last bar of any of these manually draw volume control points at 8 or above!

Notes With Attack Volume Adjustments

As you might have guessed, doing the reverse of the above will have the note start quieter and get louder towards the end. In the terminology, this is called attack. The quicker the note reaches full volume, the higher the 'attack' is. The slower it takes to reach full volume, the lower the attack.

Organic Volume Changes

And now you can combine these drawing techniques to create more organic volume changes, which are great for leads and is closer to how someone would sing the lead. You can have notes swell to create more power coming into a new part or have them get louder across sections of the composition to build up to a chorus. I utilize this method a lot in slower tracks where the lead is heard mor prominently due to more subtle drums, longer bass notes and less going on with the backing part and it creates a nice, smooth, vocalized sound.

You can hear this type of organic volume change at 3:43 in my cover of "What Sarah Said" by Death Cab. In this part of the lead, I adjusted the values to sound both decayed and with lower attack.

NOTES WITH DECAY USING THE VOLUME/LOOP ENVELOPES & CHANNEL VOLUME

As I mentioned in a previous section of this guide, achieving decay using the volume envelope (CC#11) is quite easy. Simply set the value of this controller in the event editor anywhere below 64 at the start of the note or notes you wish to have decay, then set the loop envelope (CC#10) to anywhere below 64 as well. Again, setting both the volume and loop envelope at the same value will ensure that you don't get any repeating notes you don't want and is a good practice that I recommend. Next, set the channel volume to the value that you think gives the note the best decay time. If you're unsure about where to set it, try the max (127) first and see how it sounds. When you have longer notes in the sequence, this will be a good value to have while with shorter notes, you may want to decrease the value so they don't sound like solid notes. In a perfect world, the decay set by these parameters would have the note begin at 127 and end at 0 no matter how long the note is but the NES doesn't work that way so if you want the cleanest sound, adjusting the channel volume for each note depending on its duration will give you the most control.

For lead parts, I often start with the channel volume at 127 and adjust the values for much shorter notes that repeat at the same key next to each other. I do this so the note volume at the end is low enough that the next note is more prominent in comparison. I use this automatic decay in many tracks but this cover of "Crooked Teeth" is a great example as both pulse channels utilize the volume/loop envelope and channel volume to get a nice sounding lead and backing part that don't overpower the whole song.