My collaboration with John Parker, documented here, is continuing. We are working on a CD of his remixes/mashups of chiptune songs I wrote (some during the '80s).

The original tunes were somewhat out of step with the "8 Bit movement" we've been discussing lately. The Mac SE I used included a four-voice, 8-bit sound chip but it wasn't one of the game computers such as the Atari or the Commodore. But it is digital signal processing and I was conscious at the time of using the chip "to the limit" of the sound it was capable of. A piece called "Monster Scales" (written around '98) is a four note chord that goes up and down the scale from the lowest note the machine could play to the highest. The chip couldn't "keep up" with the requirement to produce pure tones so you got rhythmic "artifacts" that lagged behind the sound. These were quite beautiful--like gamelan or thumb piano plinks.

John's remix takes advantage of the time stretching features of Ableton (basically a DJ or live mix tool--with sequencing functions) to slow down and speed up the already fragmented scales. Tones and artifacts alike are heightened and "drawn out" during this process--slowing it down, say, makes audible many textures you couldn't otherwise hear.

I'll be plugging the CD more here as it gets finalized: it's not some damn cult of nostalgia, nor a paean to "state of the art" digital consumer products, but rather a present-tense hybrid of the unique sound textures made by older gear and skeptical types of things you can do with current instruments. Plus it's fun.

- tom moody 11-06-2006 10:03 pm

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