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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:01 pm 
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From the "pently.nsf" file, the main melodies of example of song 1, 3 and 4 are penetrating.

The two intrument values that you listed are as well.

And from the "bf98v2.nsf" file, the first 11 seconds are fine (although not suitable for my game, but generally not penetrating), but that tropical island music is definitely penetrating again.


Let me give you an example of my own:

In the attached NSF file, you'll find a small section of the level theme of "City Trouble".

The first version is the way the artist originally did it. This sounds penetrating to me.

The second is the soft one that I asked him to do after I played around with the instruments and found out that it sounds much more pleasing if the instrument's volume goes down in the end.

The main instrument's volume in the first song is
5 6 7

The one in the second version is
5 6 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0


Attachments:
Comparison.nsf [6.71 KiB]
Downloaded 13 times

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:46 pm 
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Yeah, if i'm not using the volume column feature of famitracker to regulate volume, a long note would often have a value somewhere between 3 and 5 for its sustain segment. I might need add 1 to everything when i can get hold of proper headphones, but right now 3 sounds low, 4 pretty normal, and 5 sounds pretty forte. Anything above that 'toots'. Even 5 can dominate the mix.

Your composer could either go for something like the mml string you posted, representing a fixed, complete ADSR* envelope with fixed length of sustai; OR divide the instrument into several subinstruments - Normally ADS in one and R in another, to get variable sustain lengths (and bytesize-efficient envelopes).

*Just In case you're unfamiliar, ADSR means attack, decay, sustain, release and is a pragmatic way to divide an envelope into its functional parts, which can be thought, talked about, and applied to sound synthesis.

Attack = time to get to the max volume.
Decay = time to get down to sustain volume.
Sustain = amplitude of sustain. Held until "note off". <--this set too high seems to be what you call penetrating.
Release = time to get down to zero, after "note off".

Most syntesizers stick to this format for simplicity, although some are dAhDSR (delay, Attack, hold, Decay, Sustain, Release) and still some others, like late 80s yamaha sythesizers are using a nightmarish 2d array of 8 stages. Other synths sacrifice versatility and use something like ASR, AD and AR envelopes for certain aspects of the sound.

Often in FT, you don't even want to reach max volume, because mixing the volume of channels is integrated into the envelope.

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Last edited by FrankenGraphics on Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:22 pm 
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O.k., I will forward the information to my composer.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:18 pm 
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For reference in case a later version of Pently sample songs renumbers them: DRW says the flute in "Argument" and "Happy Flappy Crappy" and the violin in "The Naive Confidence" (Twinkle Twinkle) and "Canon in D" are penetrating. What wind and bowed-string instruments have in common is substantial sustain. Other pulse instruments (such as banjo and tub bass in "Stairs" and "Sticks", the orchestra-hit-substitute in "Happy Flappy Crappy", and the arpeggio chord in "Features") decay to nothing or nearly nothing.

This confirms my hypothesis that any sort of substantial sustain is called "penetrating" to you. With flutes and fiddles ruled out, you're pretty much looking at plucked strings (lute, harp) for the lead.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:23 pm 
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Yeah, I guess so. I'll forward all this new knowledge to my composer.

Do you know any games with a similar setting as my planned game that have the kind of instruments I'm looking for?

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:51 pm 
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DRW wrote:
However, "Willow" is exactly the kind of music that I don't like for my game. For example this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhJDkt3HUK0&t=7s
That's the kind of penetrating that I'm talking about.


I think that has more to do with actual production of 8bit chip music, than the "genre" of music, though. I know exactly what you mean, and a lot of games have a tendency to do that, Shadowgate is especially bad at it, despite having some other tracks that are absolutely amazing. Usually you can avoid a lot of it just by making sure not to hold a note for too long, and adding volume decay to every instrument.
I think with modern tools for composing music, such as Famitracker, these sounds are much easier to avoid than back in the days when the composers had to basically "program" their music.

Of course, many develoeprs had their own software for creating the music, but I doubt that many were particularly good. There's a pretty cool "making of" video on YouTube for Solstice, where you see glimpses of the software Tim Follin used for making the music in that. It looks pretty advanced, which I think goes well in hand with how excellently produced that music sounds.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:59 pm 
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Yeah, avoiding it in our own songs shouldn't be that hard.

However, I'm still looking for positive examples of NES music that plays in a fantasy setting to show our composer a whole example of what is possible, what is fitting for our atmosphere and what has nice instruments.

I mean, I can show her the "Ninja Gaiden" soundtrack, but it doesn't fit into our kind of game.
And I can show her "Final Fantasy" for atmosphere, but the soundtrack gets on my nerves pretty quickly.
And I can show her some SNES Square RPGs with atmosphere and sound, but this doesn't show her what the NES is capable of.

That's why I'm still looking for some good examples where one and the same song provides all of this.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:38 am 
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One more thing on flutes, recorders, violins, etc:
While the max to sustain difference is very low or none for these types of instruments, you might get away with using them if you keep the overall volume down on these instruments. I often find them overly present in the mix in NES music. Keeping the instrument of one channel a volume value below the other may also help (or, if using the volume column, you can use the same instrument but diffentiate them by volume there).

re: OP query - The chance there's a song that will meet all these criteria:

-commercial NES era
-in the atmospheric/musical style of final fantasy/dragon warrior
-but with no tooting/penetrating sounds

and possibly
-a good example of what can be done on the NES

is slim, i think.

It may be the longer road, but presenting a selection of good stuff that can be done on the nes, and then a selection of music you find fitting the atmosphere you want to achieve, and letting the composer puzzle the pieces together might be the one option.

There's all those AD&D games, but their soundtracks are not very memorable, IMO. And they are very strong on the tooting.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:15 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
-commercial NES era
-in the atmospheric/musical style of final fantasy/dragon warrior
-but with no tooting/penetrating sounds

and possibly
-a good example of what can be done on the NES

is slim, i think.


Pretty much. In general there are sadly very few NES games altogether that do have a really good soundtrack, to the level where you'd use it for reference. And a vast majority of those tend to be upbeat action packed music or at least fun cutesy stuff, neither really fitting into a fantasy setting.

I honestly think something like Willow or Shadowgate is the best example of medieval-style video game music on the platform, and as already discussed they definitely have those "piercing sounds". For a general fantasy style setting though, the general "cliche" seems to be going with some epic adventure-like music, similar to the Zelda or Final Fantasy themes, but the former is already so well known that it's hardly worth even mentioning (and in the very primitive end of NES music production to be fair), while the latter was already discounted by OP.

Even then, the overworld theme from Final Fantasy 2 is probably one my favourite compositions from the NES era. Though it's definitely not created with the limitations of the sound chip in mind:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaCLoLBdxTU

Amazing vocal version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtRii5S_6dM


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:33 am 
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The good news is that DRWs' design goal holds the promise of filling a pretty much vacant spot, bgm-wise. I think that'll help the game bring something fresh to the NES catalogue. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 3:05 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
It may be the longer road, but presenting a selection of good stuff that can be done on the nes, and then a selection of music you find fitting the atmosphere you want to achieve, and letting the composer puzzle the pieces together might be the one option.

Yeah, I'll probably have to do it this way.

FrankenGraphics wrote:
The good news is that DRWs' design goal holds the promise of filling a pretty much vacant spot, bgm-wise. I think that'll help the game bring something fresh to the NES catalogue. :)

It's only a vacant spot in adventure games. When we're talking about games in general, there are good bunch of cool soundtracks.
"Journey to Silius" is my favorite. "Ninja Gaiden", "Castlevania", "Contra" etc. are also quite neat.

And of course, there's the main song of my own game "City Trouble":
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eee0yurkIW4

So, I don't think that my game will really be revolutionary when it comes to the music.

The main focus in my action adventure is that it will have a story that unfolds during playing. This seems to be quite rare in NES games. Usually, you just get a task in the beginning and then you have to fulfill that task: Find the eight Triforce pieces, defeat the Four Fiends etc.

If you want to know what kind of storytelling I use, have a look at "Final Fantasy Adventure". (And maybe "Tower of Radia"/"Radia Senki", but I haven't played the latter, so I only know the first few scenes.)


I'm asking myself what the soundtrack of "Final Fantasy" would sound like if you could fiddle with the instruments. Do you know of an authentic, non-enhanced(!) FamiTracker recreation of this game's soundtrack with downloadable FTM file?

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Trailer: https://youtu.be/IYXpP59qSxA
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German Retro Gamer article: http://i67.tinypic.com/345o108.jpg


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 3:22 am 
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Absolutely - there's plenty of brilliant soundtracks from the commercial era. Some of them basic, some of them advanced, all good.

I just meant your design goal fits a vacant spot (meaning square/jrpg-style music for the NES, but done more pleasantly, with modern tools). I'm looking forward to see how it turns out!

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 3:30 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
I'm looking forward to see how it turns out!

Me too. :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:15 am 
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For a long time I've felt that "fantasy" or "medieval" isn't really a genre of music, even though it is a genre of setting.

There is actual historical medieval music but generally that's never used in games or films depicting that time. There's examples where someone has developed a strong successful style while working mostly in games of one genre, like Nobuo Uematsu or Hitoshi Sakimoto, and their example gets imitated... I've looked at this question of what is fantasy/medieval music over and over again, and every time it breaks down; there isn't really a big coherence to it as a genre, in my opinion.

Neverthless, here's a few vague ideas that I think fit the trends a little bit:
  • Late romantic classical music and orchestration. A string orchestra. In particular the work of Debussy (example) which had a very dominating influence on film music for a very long time, and Nobuo Uematsu makes many direct references to Debussy in his work.
  • Modal scales and harmony. I think Greensleeves is basically the archetype for the "fantasy/medieval" melody and harmony. This helps set it apart from just being derived from classical music, and modal scales were prominent in that historical period. I don't think it's used in a historical way, but it is effective at cultivating a mood that's different from common practice major/minor stuff.
  • Influence from various folk music, which includes modal scales, unusual dance rhythms, etc. and also things like instrumentation. Acoustic instruments, but especially ones that aren't the common modern version, wooden flute instead of metal, lute instead of guitar, a simple tambourine instead of a snare drum...
  • Carl Orff's Carmina Burana is another huge touchstone for this genre, maybe even its most representative work. Very strongly medieval "themed" but not trying to be a historical performance by any means, it does have that kind of anti-classical, strange/folk instrumentation/rhythm, modal melodies, etc.

(...and the way my 3 main examples here, Orff, Debussy, Greensleeves are all also drastically different from each other is an indication of what I mean when I say I don't think it's really a coherent genre.)

The second part of the question is where to look on the NES for examples... well I'd actually suggest a different approach:

1. Study NES music, but don't limit yourself to things in your target genre. Things like "piercing" orchestration, well... just listen to lots of stuff and when you hear good orchestration, learn how it worked and take those ideas. This isn't really a question of genre, most ideas like that can be taken and used in many places. Just listen to a variety of "good" NES music and learn from it all.

2. Set your target/goals outside the NES. Pick some music you think is appropriate and you like the sound of and try to render that on the NES. You will necessarily need to make changes, adapt it, compromise, come up with novel solutions to work around the compromises, etc. but I find that attempting things like this has very good results, and a much better chance of creating distinctively new music for the NES than I could by using other NES music as the primary example.

Something like Yuzo Koshiro's Streets of Rage soundtrack didn't come about from trying to imitate something that was already on the Genesis. There was a genre of music he thought was under-represented there, and he took from that and applied it to the Genesis.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:26 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
There is actual historical medieval music but generally that's never used in games or films depicting that time.

Yeah, my game is only medieval in the sense "The Legend of Zelda" and "Final Fantasy" are medieval: The world is a complete fantasy world without any ties to history of our own Earth, but it's at the technological level of our Middle Ages, without modern technology.

So, I'm indeed not looking for authentic music from the year 1200.
As I said, I'm looking more for stuff that's similar to Square SNES RPGs.

I guess I'll simply collect the best SNES tunes from fantasy RPGs and the best general NES music from any game and ask my composer to create something out of it.


The funny thing is: There's some kind of music that I would consider as medieval, but that I explicitly don't want to use.
The title music of the NES versions of "Dragon's Lair" and "Prince Valiant" are two of those examples. I don't know what makes this medieval, but it definitely has a medieval vibe. However, it has the kind of vibe that I don't want.

Whenever I hear these songs, I think about Knights of the Round Table stuff, bards, the evil Black Knight and comely maidens trapped in towers.
But my music shall evoke the thoughts of monsters in the wilderness, dwarves and goblins, the evil overlord and old magicians.

Does this make sense?

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Trailer: https://youtu.be/IYXpP59qSxA
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German Retro Gamer article: http://i67.tinypic.com/345o108.jpg


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