Bitpop & My Audio Design Philosophy

Whilst Chiptunes are generally written and performed on real & emulated hardware such as the Nintendo & Commodore families of 8bit systems, they are bound to the technical constraints of the sound provided by that system.

Bitpop tends to be played mostly as a hybrid of 8bit sound-chip sounds and real instruments and/or samples with vocals. Notable artists of the genre such as “8Bit Weapon” or “Machinae Supremacy” tend to focus on Nintendo sounds as do many in the Chiptune genre.

My approach is to not mix with real instruments or samples thereof rather, I want to underlay the vocals with a complete MOS6581 based sound. Given that Bitpop isn’t as pure as Chiptunes, I’ve taken the liberty not abiding by the three sound channel limitation of the MOS6581 SID Chip.

It is part of my objective to constantly minimalise the number of identifiable sounds being played to no more than five or six.
The number of layers I use to make up particular sounds can at times up to four individual sounds modulated together.

My reasoning for a minimalist approach is that I’ve identified a fine line where you can layer so many rudimentary sounds that the merged result is so complex, it sounds nothing like the original.

Pre & Post mixing introduces various effects and modulations but there is a short list of favourties that include reverb, cabinet simulation, gainers, compressors, delays & filters. Again, as with the number of sounds channels, I try to use these as sparingly as I can.

This is a razors edge where Chiptune artists are concerned. Am I being Chiptune or something else? To be clear, this is not Chiptunes. It may be a blood relation, but it is its own being.

In a way, I see myself trying to make Chiptunes more palatable for consumption by the general public. I think it offers the comfort of contemporary pop music with a reminiscent flavour of misspent years playing home computer games.

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