My role on Lusipurr’s Fountain of Perpetual Disappointment is a strange one. Sometimes I have so many tasks on deck it is almost impossible to think of how I could complete them all. And then there are other times – like now – when there are mostly just a few low-priority tasks and a few e-mails to take care of while I wait for a bottleneck to unclog.
I recently decided that I should use this “free time” to challenge myself and give self-lessons on making 8-bit music. Not just chiptunes, but actual 8-bit music. The difference being that I am not going to use the same sequencing program I am using for the majority of LFoPD‘s soundtrack, but rather a program called a tracker that more closely resembles a programming compiler than a music program.
As this was a decision I made relatively recently (see: yesterday), I have barely got my toes wet. I downloaded a few hundred Mega Man tunes, sure, but I am not involved in the current scene, I do not know the well-respected chiptuners of today, and I am certainly not familiar with the wealthy catalog available from the NES era.
Deciding to get involved in a new community is many things. Initially, it is extremely exciting. To discover small but dedicated pockets on the internet all devoted to something is an encouraging prospect. It means that there are people with similar interests who could be knowledgeable critics and valuable resources in avoiding beginner pratfalls.
The other side of the coin is how daunting everything is. Despite a life-long love of games, over a decade of composing for the piano, and even a light background in programming, getting into the world of 8-bit composition is incredibly foreign and definitely intimidating. Hearing the elaborate compositions of other people serves as both an optimistic beacon of what is possible to achieve and a reminder of how far I have to go.
Usually I would focus on the positive factors, but because I am the type of person to have multiple projects on the go I am worried about the dedication I can reasonably have to such an undertaking. I have come to this point before. I remember considering getting into animation a few years ago. And while I still have an interest in animation, I came to realize that I simply did not have the sort of time to dedicate if I wanted to become even competent in the art form.
This incident immediately came to mind yesterday as I scoured forums and listened to Mega Man track after Mega Man track. After some thought, however, I actually think this is different. First of all, LFoPD is going to require around three 8-bit tracks for the game, so there is some immediate practical application, especially because I would prefer authentic 8-bit music to be used for the section.
Secondly, as I touched on earlier, this hobby seems to line up with many of my interests and talents. I am proud of my composition skills and I have proven to have the patience for programming, so writing a decent 8-bit tune would provide a lot of satisfaction for me. Not only that, but tracker software is so lightweight that my netbook operates it with zero difficulty. This is the same hardware that cannot smoothly show a high quality YouTube video. So this is something that will be very easy for me to take on the go; a necessity for how rarely I seem to be in my own home these days.
Thirdly, I actually expect this endeavor to improve my worth as a composer. As is often stated, limitation spawns creativity. Also, the 8-bit era is heralded as perhaps the overall greatest time in video game music. Composers were often classically trained and were required to focus on melody, else their work turn into a muddy mess. Going back to the basics in some ways will force me to analyze the root of what makes good music and how I actually go about creating the work that I am proud of.
It helps that I genuinely love listening to 8-bit music. Not just out of nostalgia – I actually played very few games from the NES/SNES era – but because I love the crispness of the compositions. Nothing can be hidden. Good work is simply good work. I once played the famous Dr. Wily track for a friend who said that it was fine but that he thought I must agree that it would be objectively better played with guitars instead of bleeps and bloops. I could not disagree more, and it was a helpful moment for me in realizing my respect for 8-bit music.
What do you think, LusiBloops? Are you fans of 8-bit music? Do you think this is a wise venture for me?