Plogue Chipsounds Gameboy DMG Wave Channel Tutorial

gbA while ago I had some requests for how to use the DMG wave table in Plogue Chipsounds. I just finally got around to putting it together. Although its hard to get the exact same sounds you can get in LsDj when it comes to using the wave channel, you can get a pretty good approximation.

Many of the cool sounds you get out of LsDj come from the start and end point and speed settings for filtering. These help you get those “blarg” (that’s what I call them) sounds and some of the really noisy, buzzy Gameboy sounds that have come to define its sound.

Chipsounds doesn’t have the start/end/speed setup like LsDj but you can get the same effect using the wave sequencer. Here’s a few settings to get you started. If you haven’t learned the wave table in Chipsounds, read this first.

Select the DMG-CPU preset and the Wave channel of course. Pick a Wave Channel preset to start with. We will customize it later.

Set PMode to one fo the following options:

  • PWM – A more subtle pulse modulation effect.
  • PWM+Copy – This causes the distorted “blarg” sound and is the most in-your-face modulation.
  • Modulo – More subtle, almost gives you an Atari SID sound.
  • Seek – Turns the modulation into an arpeggio-like effect.
  • Trunc – Another subtle effect.

blarg

The next step is to build a Wave sequencer table that turns the PWM ratio up or down. This is CC2, as you can see in the photo, you can increase it in small steps with a very fast speed to get some smooth sounds.

Youc an also use CC29 to change the Pmode mid-table as well as VPOS (CC28) to further change the effect.

The wave channel setup greatly effects the sound. The more you squish down your wave, the more you will hear the effects. Here are some examples:

 

 

The “Blarg” Mouth Sound

A very flat wave shape. Wave table increases the PWM Ration by 5 in 1/96th increments.

blarg

Jagged Lead – Often hear in Chipocrite and Bit Shifter’s stuff.

Wave Shape is rather jagged and odd. PWM Ratio moves up and down mostly in 1/48th increments. You can turn on looping for a real fun sound with this one.

bitshifter

Trashy Bass – this is a very distorted and fun one.

CC28 VPos starts at 1 and PWM Ratio climbs, VPOS jumps to 127 after a few increments increasing the distorted sound and giving it a slower attack feeling.

trash

Squirt – A real subtle one I like.

Same as Trashy but using modulo instead of PWM+Copy for the PMode. A bouncy fun Atari-like sound.

squirt

Hope that helps. Just experiment from here and you can get some really epic sounds out of this module.

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Awesome Chiptune + Post Rock Fusion Bands

What happens when you use guitars and drums to make music that isn’t mean to rock ? You get post rock. You’ve probably heard post rock whether you realize it or not. It’s often features in the background of TV show and movies. Think of it as rock music you can listen to while studying for a test or writing code. Some of the bands at the forefront of this genre (although not all of them like the label) are Explosions in the Sky, The Backward Step, El Ten Eleven, Six Parts Seven, Sigur Ros and Mogwai. I’ve been saying for about two years, “there needs to be more chiptune+post rock!” And lately, there is finally a lot of it appearing, or at least I’m getting better at finding it.

Revengineers

The Revengineers rock a bit more than their counterparts. They use an NES to provide melodic lines over their amazing guitars and stand-out drums. They’re great live and have never relased a bad track in my opinion.

Noisewaves

 Noisewaves are a bit softer and explore the more shoegaze-ish side of post rock. They have very emotionally resonant songs that are great for a rainy day or evening.

The Bronzed Chorus


These guys remind me a bit more of groups like El Ten Eleven and Six Parts Seven. They have a great energy level and some sweet guitar effects.

KANAGAWA


Kanagawa needs to make more stuff. We hope they’ll release more soon because it’s excellent. Some Gameboy sounds used here backed by feedback soaked walls of guitar and excellent compositions. Perfect for a late night drive.

Infinity Shred


Infinity Shred has a little bit more of an electronic edge than the other bands here. Reminding me at times of M83. They have some wonderful retro-tones in every song and great drums and backing guitars. The Sanctuary album may be a bit pricey by chiptune/bandcamp standards, but I assure you; you will not be disappointed. Check out the trippy retro cosmonaut Space Odyssey video for Mapper too!

Applying Scrum Methodology to Composing Soundtracks

Recently, I was thinking of some of the problems I had in the early days of composing and noticed an interesting paradigm between how modern companies develop software and the practices I’d adopted when creating music for clients.

 

Years ago, software developers did their work in a straight line. A client wanted a system and you started building it from the ground up, not stopping until it was near completion. Then, you showed it to the client, tested it and usually had to go back and change a ton of things since the client wasn’t really sure what they were asking for or you misinterpreted it.

 

To resolve this problem the Agile Scrum process was created to solve some important problems with the traditional method. This idea was developed in the 80’s but in the early 2000’s it really started to become adopted on a large scale by many companies. I’m going to keep it very high-level here (developers aren’t my main audience, I think?). The aim was to cut down in the vicious cycle of developing done without any communication to the end user and then going back and redoing it when the end user didn’t like it. It also addresses how teams plan and deliver things.

scrum

One of the most important pieces is incremental delivery. This is something I’ve adopted into my music composition process when working for a third party. Much like the traditional developer, my early soundtracks were seen and heard only by me until completion. Then, when the client got the finished product, they usually said, “this part is too long”, “we don’t like this instrument”, etc.

 

In the Scrum methodology, you have a “sprint” which is a set of time to complete a unit of work. A unit of work is something you can show the client at the end of the sprint. This way the client knows what on earth you’re billing him for and you also can be more sure the client will like the finished product. This is exactly what I do with a soundtrack now. Here’s my sprints:

 

  1. Initial sound of the album – I create a few 30 second demos, not properly mixed, some default oZone mastering on it and send them to the client. I usually make them loops so they can try them in game. From here, we determine if they like where things are going or if I’ve misinterpreted their directions and suggested feeling.

 

  1. Short Drafts of Each Track – If the soundtrack will be 10 songs in total, I make 10 30-45 second looping tracks displaying how I envision each track based on their direction. I usually try to include at least 2 dynamic shifts in this short period of time so that they can envision how the final version would sound. This could be more than one sprint depending on the amount of tracks needed.

 

  1. Final Drafts – Once the client is happy with the short drafts, I develop all of these short unmixed and unmastered demos into complete tracks based on the duration the client has requested. At this point they have their last chance to weigh in on instrument changes, tempos and other factors that play into the mixing and mastering phase. This section may be many sprints if it’s a very large job.

 

  1. Mixing and Mastering – Now we do our mixing and mastering and create finished products. We know we are safe doing this now since the client has confirmed everything up until now, what we send them in the end will only be slightly different from what they heard in the “Final Drafts” stage.

 

  1. Final Preview and Delivery – Once we have them all mixed, I send an archive file of mp3 versions for the client to listen to one last time. Then, if they’re satisfied, I send them the formats they’ve requested, raw WAV files and any stems if they needed them.

 

The great thing is that this is a great way to break up a large contract into multiple payments. Any completion of a sprint is a good place for an incremental payment.

 

Here’s a few tips for working with this mindset:

 

  1. Save everything! – Don’t think a song is done when you’re done with it. Save each draft you make. If you make 3 versions with a different lead instrument, save three projects so you wont have to remember what it is later. Once, when I used a hardware synth to make an early version, I didn’t write down the settings, and I could never quite capture the same sound later on for the final. Keep track of everything.

 

  1. Be Organized – It’s totally worth the time to move things into folders, save backups and make spreadsheets of where things are. If you don’t, you will forget something at some point.

 

  1. Communicate – Make sure you’re client understands this process. One important thing is that they realize your first drafts are not final projects. They need to remember that it’s just to get a mood or feeling to start with.

 

What are your methods for composing?