After my success with building a modest synthesizer (my Cigari Punk Console), I got to thinking about other things I could build to make music. A long time ago I knew how to play simple music with another decidedly lo-fi setup: a BASIC program tootling through a humble PC speaker. I’ve always had a passing interest in procedurally generated music–i.e., music written by a computer program–and I felt I knew just enough music theory to generate something reasonably harmonious (if not melodic). So, I oiled my very rusty programming skills, relearned how BASIC plays music, and after a few office hours I had the main workings of a program. Each pass generates one melody line (BASIC is monophonic), so multiple lines are combined to generate a fuller-sounding track. The result: randomly generated chiptune music. I think I’ve programmed it well enough that it sounds like it could pass for something from a long-forgotten Nintendo game, so I’m pretty pleased with the results so far. There are five tracks right now (all about a minute or less, as befits video game music), and I’ll be adding more as time allows. Give them a listen! Then download, put the album on loop, and let the square waves wash you across level after level as you read your freshly minted copy of But Our Princess Is in Another Castle!
Below is a screenshot of MUSIC.EXE in action in all its monochromatic glory.