Video game music is something most every person who has played a game can appreciate, whether you grew up with the classic consoles or your favorite past-time is to disrespect and gank top, the music is always there, integrated so well that if you were to unexpectedly hear your favorite game's theme on a commercial your heart will jump and your mind zoom right to a place you love. And if we're going to make comparisons of the art-within-the-ultimate-art-form (thus destroying the concept of subjective enjoyment), it probably ranks 2nd in terms of infectiousness to actually playing a game involving warding off the hoards of the ravenous undead and malevolent infected.
Now, while we have briefly established that video game music is cool and gets stuck in our heads pretty easily, I have a feeling most people share my sentiments in that I would not listen to the NES Super Mario Bros. theme on my iPod while I do yardwork. In a way, this is very interesting, because it's a good song, even outside the creative medium it was designed for, but we can't see it as attracting or relevant without enjoying that designated medium. Maybe this is for the same reason that most of us (or at least typically in my understanding of humanity) don't seek out and listen to music without words or vocalizations, unless it involves dancing or something, which again, is just music we find relevant in a specific connotation. Thankfully, such a closed-minded demographic is changing as people become more open to diversity in the creative world. Yet there are still some phenomenal musical artists overlooked, despite their incredibly strong presence within their conglomerate creative medium.
This is where the chiptune subculture has taken root. Born out of a love for classic consoles and the sounds they exclusively produced for over two decades, tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people have made music using old-school video game hardware. Some of them are really cool and use/d the native coding language for the consoles to make their music (too hardcore), a lot of people use homebrewed software such as LSDJ or Famitracker to make their music in a slightly more user-friendly setting (fairly hardcore), and others emulate the classic hardware sounds through virtual instruments that enable composition in programs like Logic or Ableton, thus allowing for MIDI capabilities and fusions of other sounds into their songs (not hardcore, but it can be cool, I mean, c'mon, DISASTERPEACE! Please also note Disasterpeace does both, and better than anyone else <3 i="" little-scale="" lso="" nbsp="" note="" that="">just so happens to do all of the things I've mentioned, at once).3>
The part I find most identifies "Chiptune" as distinct from "video game music" would be the composers. People who make music through such "obsolete" vessels in the modern age of musical diversity and technological ease generally aren't just attempting to capture the feel of a game's interaction as a soundtrack, but they are rather creating songs that stand alone, that won't spark a direct reference to novelty of any sort. Rather, they inspire what your typical song written by a passionate heart might write: joy, anxiety, aggression, depression, delirium... and without the connection to a particular "concrete" source, these songs have the potential to attach themselves in truly awesome and meaningful ways. Just like other songs that are commodity free. Of course, if you love the nostalgia in the sound, that's unavoidable, yet as I initially delved into Chiptune for the sake of finding neat video game-esque songs, I stayed long after that priority washed away and all that was left was the expression in the composition.
If you've never heard Chiptune or are really hoping to understand exactly the Chiptune I've been gathering inspiration from for this wall of text, you're in luck! I've put together a mix"tape", and I think that it encompasses a broad spectrum of what Chiptune is capable of both in terms of musicality, as well as being an emotionally driving style of music. I've made sure that every song on here is distributed as a free song, but I think you should take the time to visit your favorite artists and contribute to their wonderful works (why I feel you should financially support musicians is another article entirely, just BELIEVE ME, GIVE THEM MONEY). If you happen to be one of the artists or other such rights holders for any of the songs and don't want your song featured in the download, I will happily remove the track immediately. I've made sure to include the sources where each artists' music is available. I really hope you enjoy this, tell your friends, burn it to a CD, and be sure to realize just how amazing and energizing this stuff is when you crank up the speakers in your car all the way.
And don't be intimidated by the list of mysterious artists you're unsure of, just trust me. This is the best way to get into Chiptune, I picked some really good stuff here. There's something for people who like dance, heavy, ambient, experimental, and just good songs that don't have a genre specification other than CHIPTUNE!
Track Listing (listed album titles when applicable):
- Battle Lava - Rise [from Rise]
- b4kn - Apple Tooth [from Treasure Map]
- ??? - 4 Bit 4 the Masses [from Old Stuff]
- Danimal Cannon - Roots [from Roots]
- little-scale and Poppi Doser - Antia 6 - Litmus [from Antia]
- DKSTR - wailinggoose [from Weekly Treats 2013 (Bonus)]
- Battle Lava - Bodies Floating in Zero Gravity [from Searching for Ghosts]
- DYLANBROCHILL - LAIKA
- bryface - Disk 3 of 977 [from Weekly Treats]
- little-scale - Dragons (Part 2) [from NKYW]
- Disasterpeace - Jump Error [from Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar]
- Battle Lava - Cornering Dad is Fun [from Pieces]
- Space Town Savior - Discover [from Starfields and Cityscapes]
- Kubbi - Is it Over Yet? [from Weekly Treats 2013]
- little-scale and Poppi Doser - Antia 7 - Circles [from Antia]
- Battle Lava - Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely [from Tides]