| VGM or Chiptune
of The Year 2001|
Please don't mind my inaccurate English, as
Still I'm not good at chiptune scene. (Nevertheless, better
among Japanese.) So this may become a presumptuous utterance. But I'd like to
say...this year brought many crops truly for video game music and chiptune. I'm
convinced of chiptune never die, but have been very disappointed about today's
Japanese scene. At last there were nothing new in Japan... Anyway, VORC picked
up the most impressive things of the year from top to ten. You have to check if
there're any missing!
- 1. "FX EP" by
- Jake Kaufman aka Virt has already been famous as an awesome GAMEBOY
musician. The MOD music disk "FX EP" is not his business, but the most
surprising work. This was created as a fictitious sound track for a sequel to
NES Castle Vania series (except one track). Not only the composition is
excellent, but he succeed to imitate old Konami style completely. Maybe it
isn't possible for today's Japanese musicians, including Konami. Virt can be
the only successor to Konami of those days. This means Japanese chiptune style
is dead in Japan, but appreciated in USA/Europe. So "FX EP" became a turning
point of Japanese chiptune.
- 2. analogik, a year
of the change
- In MOD scene, analogik label plays an important role as well as Virt. This
April, the central figure Nagz released a great work "Chinqua".
It will be recorded in the history of the chiptune about both the play time
(8min.) and abundant developments. After its release, analogik became silent
(May). But suddenly they were back with a major change of members (September).
With Vhiiula (the organizer of Big Chipcompo) at the head
of the list, nice young but powerful new members won't allow looking aside
- 3. Very active Aleksi
- The activity history of Aleksi Eeben (Heatbeat) in the demo scene is over
ten years. He had released many MODs since early AMIGA days. His MODs didn't
contain so many chiptunes, but recently he moved his main playground to 8-bit
platforms like COMMODORE 64/VIC-20 and GAMEBOY. Now he's creating music
editors and chiptunes enthusiastically for them. Such a case -- a famous MOD
musician requests his field at 8-bit scene -- is hard to find, but it's never
retrogressive. Hear his mature technic and high quality, you'll understand his
advance. In this year he showed the wits as a programmer with John Player
music editor for COMMODORE64 and some developing tools for GAMEBOY ADVANCE. On
the other hand, He released many recent chiptune works for 8-bit platforms at
could know his great skills as a chiptune musician. (Perhaps you've already
known his excellect GAMEBOY works in "Tom & Jerry" and
S-11", but the important point is now we can listen to his chiptunes on
the web.) IMHO, dynamic drum'n basses "The Four Voices" and "3583 Bytes Free"
for COMMODORE VIC-20 were the best chiptunes in the club music style of the
- 4. Paragon5
Tracker opened to the public
- The previous Virt and Aleksi Eeben are related with the game development
company Paragon 5.
Paragon 5 also promoted some master scene musicians like Beek (Chris J.Hampton), Mystical (Asbjorn Andersen) KeyG
(Konrad Gmurek). So it becomes an indispensable existence to think about
GAMEBOY scene. Paragon 5 is also famous about their special music editor
called "Beyond Tracker". This had never been allowed to be taken out of the
company for a long time. But this October, finally it opened to the public,
and now be spreading as the standard GAMEBOY music editor.
- 5. Chiptunes from new GAMEBOY generation
- Paragon 5 Tracker is really outstanding, but for Windows. The other side,
two definitive music editors running on GAMEBOY were also released. They're nanoloop and Little Sound DJ. Little Sound DJ is
especially easy to use samples, so be involving live musicians and people
haven't composed chiptune till then. They'll become the core of "vgm
influenced electro/elepop" generation. Such a scene is steadily growing mainly
in North Europe.
- 6. The pursuit of MSX music scene
- Musical properties for every 8-bit platforms have been put in order for
several years, but MSX seemed to be left behind. However, the situation was
much improved in this year. MSX itself also grooved to the official emulator
- March NEZplug (a plug-in for Winamp/KbMediaPlayer) supported
MSX-Audio. It's an external FM/PCM unit.
- August MSXplug (a plug-in for
Winamp/KbMediaPlayer) supported many Japanese local chiptune formats.
MSX is almost only chiptune scene with some active musicians in Japan.
Owing to this plug-in, we can listen to that scene on Windows. Don't miss Naruto.
He's not famous, but a top class chiptune musician in Japan.
- September GXSCC Beta
This quite unique software plays all MIDI datas with
SCC or OPLL tones. Both of them are external audio chip for MSX. This tells
us another way to make use of chip music culture.
- October KSS Kingdom opened.
MSX-Audio tunes are available here. This site will grow as a MSX music scene
- 7. Fine COMMODORE 64 scene as usual
- For all that, the most lively 8-bit platform is COMMODORE 64. Many music
disks and chiptunes were released, some useful tools appeared, HVSC added over 2000 SIDs,
and many other intersting things were happened this year. Among them, the
following two things became the monuments of the scene.
- C64 Portal launched
News site only about COMMOORE 64 demo and game scene. It
changed the situation for scene beginners who want to know more about SID
music (like me). Now today's releases and trend are easy to check on the
It brought the revolution to SID music. It's made
possible to compose SID tunes on Windows without any emulators. Check the
power from GoatTracker
Compo Results. Probably, this is one big step of the music emulation.
- 8. mck released
- For Japanese chip musician, this release may be the most impressive thing.
mck is a NSF format music editor released on December. Originally NSF format
is the music data ripped from NES. But with using MCK, you can make it on any
text editors. Composing on text editors? What does it mean? This is a way
called 'MML (Music Macro Language)', one of the standard to create chiptunes
in Japan. For example:
A o4 c8d8d+16f16
Such a description in text file is converted to binary data
by "MCK Converter" and "NES Assembler". In tracker style, this
00 C-4 00 G-3
01 --- 01 ---
02 D-4 02 A-3
03 --- 03
04 D#4 04 A#3
05 F-4 05 A-3
musicians may feel complicated. However, this has spread in Japan by various
reasons, and most of Japanese chip musicians feel easier than tracking. (Yes,
this is one of the reason why Japanese chip musicians don't tend to enter the
tracking scene.) Anyway, it had been a dream for Japanese chiptune listeners
to create their own tunes on NES with MML. Although there haven't been many
tunes yet, this developing scene will be interesting next year.
- 9. Tribute sites for old school pioneers
- Owing to the development of the music emulation, Some tribute sites were
completely equipped with music datas. With Chris
Huelsbeck Legacy (November 2000) as a start, The Complete Works of Rob
Hubbard (May), The
Follin Drome (October) were launched. They're all pioneers of COMMODORE 64
music scene, so such a site for other 8-bit scene is awaited.
- 10. GAMEBOY ADVANCE scene started, and solutions from Virt
- This March, GAMEBOY ADVANCE was on sale. Therewithal, its game music scene
also started...maybe. It has already passed more than half a year since
release, but unfortunately, still hard to hear about music with using full
specifications. Virt's GBA tunes released on December became one of the
earliest solution for such a scene. He proved himself to have already been
beyond Konami. Once Konami was a leader of music for Japanese 8-bit/16-bit
platforms, but today's Konami wouldn't be able to do such a good work anymore.
Now, Virt comes to finish the work which KONAMI was doing. (Btw, some tunes
are old good SNES Final Fantasy style.)
- Runner-up. New music format of the year
- VGM format for
SEGA 8-bit consoles (August), and SC68 format for ATARI ST series
(September). They're big features of the year. Both of them has deep-rooted
popularity, so next year we still won't miss them.
- Extra. VORC launched
- Only three months have passed since this site started, however we feel
very happy if some news were helpful for VGM/chiptune freaks.
We'd like to introduce "the most impressive things of the year in the
VGM/chiptune scene" from readers.
- 1.) FX EP by Virt -- great composition and great technique, and all of
that in only 5 channels. 2.) Chinqua by Nagz -- one of the biggest steps
forward in chipmusic IMHO, a very long and very imaginative tune. And then I'd
say it was quite cool of Paragon5 to release their Gameboy tracker. I hope
people will actually use it .. (Vhiiula)
- 1) MSX-AUDIO Emulators (NEZ, MSX) released: This is a revolution for me,
and long dream came true. I believe it also became the center of foreign
MSX-users attention. 2) MSXplug released: It became the hope for active MSX
users. 3) MCK released: My dream from childhood came true. Ex.jI Knew about
GXSCC: It's fun. (Sama)
- "I became a VORC reader." (dowland)
- 1) v-fx released 2) Hally@MIDI Sai 3) vorc launched (Kayama.)
Thank you all for sending opinions. Written by Hally