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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:46 pm 
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I kind of started a somewhat off-topic discussion in another thread about game music, and since it's fun to talk about, I thought I'd open a thread and see how others feel about some of these tunes that are so often heard in solitary, in a dark room, by the glow of a cathode ray tube.

For starters, has anyone else ever noticed a similarity between this track from Kickmaster:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk_Bd3WYkrA

And this track by Method Man:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBW8cvwjkDY

And doesn't Kickmaster seem like the sort of game the Wu Tang Clan would love? I always liked this song, but I like it more now after noticing this. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:10 am 
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I was about to make a discussion relating to music, but on people's favorite game sound font. I just that was kind of funny, because of thinking of music on the other thread.

darryl.revok wrote:
For starters, has anyone else ever noticed a similarity between this track from Kickmaster:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk_Bd3WYkrAAnd this track by Method Man:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBW8cvwjkDY

Didn't it say that the second track was from 1994? I don't think that there was any copying involved, if you thought there was. I can't really think of any songs from video games that were taken, aside from a lot of songs in Doom (that actually sound better to me how they made them), but that's not an NES game. Maybe people were more focused on creating there own music because it would be harder to try and replicate the music on the more limited sound hardware? Actually, what do I even have to base this off of? I just said I can't think of any examples aside from Doom, so I wouldn't know if songs were copied or not. I guess a fairly common practice (if the games even have music at all, which a lot have been getting rid of for no reason) now is to have songs from actual music artists in the games, which this wouldn't have really been an option back then.

Hey, actually, I remember this cool article I found: http://www.gamesradar.com/soundtracks-y ... re-stolen/


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:43 am 
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I'm saying, that maybe, just maybe, the Wu-Tang clan were chilling out playing Kickmaster after watching some Kung-Fu movies, and Method Man says, "That's a tight beat, son!" :)

Quote:


Haha that's some cool stuff. I actually listen to the Chrono Trigger and Earthbound OST pretty regularity and I picked up on the the Robo Roll similarity. Earthbound I feel is pretty obvious with a lot of it's referencing, particularly the Chuck Berry song, but I didn't catch a lot of those.

Speaking of sound fonts, for the SNES in particular, Earthbound is one of my favorites. As far as I know, it's probably the most bass heavy game for the system, and the bass generally sounds nice and smooth, with a lot of fat kicks.

I feel like it was kind of ahead of the curve, not just for video game music, but for music in general. Some of the things that it was doing with hip-hop in particular seem to me to hint of an era later than the game itself.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:45 am 
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darryl.revok wrote:
Kickmaster vs Method Man

4 notes descending chromatically is hardly a novel melody. It's just an easy and natural consequence of our scale systems, and common 4 measure pattern structure.

Here it is in Mario Maker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXz2M_oEbOg
Here it is in Cave Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-aitfK7jRE

Those are two examples that came easily to mind, but I'm sure I could dig up like a hundred examples in pop and classical music, but I've got other things I'd rather be doing. My point is that by itself it's not really anything worth drawing a conclusion from, it's too "obvious" a melody for that.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:56 am 
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For a nice soundfont, of course I'm going to list R-Type III. I like the sound of the electric guitar instrument, and the dozens of others that I think are supposed to be. I also like GunForce II's soundfont, even if the music itself isn't that inspiring. I guess I just like Irem's later games with all the electric guitars. The sound fonts are kind of moody. I also like Doom's "cheesier" sounding electric guitars. One game that I think really stands out is the original DKC, because I haven't really heard any other game sound like it, even the sequels (especially the 3rd one.) I find it's hard to talk about different sound fonts on the NES, because the range of sounds you can make is kind of limited. I can definitely tell the different soundtracks of games, but it's because of preferences in writing the music. I always liked the thing that I think is supposed to be an orchestra hit in Super C.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:25 am 
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The boss theme has a much different style and tone, compared to the rest of the Kick Master soundtrack. All the level themes have that epic, heavy metal feel to them. So comparing the Kick Master soundtrack to Wu Tang Clan feels kinda weird to me.

As for SNES soundfonts: I've always liked ones, that don't comprise of mostly MIDI instruments. I love MIDI, but considering what a wide variety of sounds could be used, it kinda sucks that most developers just cheaped out like that. Earthbound and DKC, as previously mentioned, are good examples of original soundfonts. There's also The Lawnmower Man (well, it does use a few MIDI instruments, but it still manages to have an original sound to it).

Espozo wrote:
I always liked the thing that I think is supposed to be an orchestra hit in Super C.

That orchestral hit was really popular during the late 80s and early 90s. Personally I like how it sounds in the original arcade version. The DPCM sample feels kinda butchered, but the DPCM channel itself and the cartridge space provided a lot of limitations, so I can't really blame them.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:47 am 
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What I always found fascinating was how many NES era soundtracks make use of the dorian, lydian and mixolydian modes. They're all over the place, particularly in mega man music (but you hear it in tons of games). They use those, and a lot of bluesy type of flourishes, but intermixed with all that are very classical chord changes (at least two tracks in Mega Man 1 employ a circle progression, Fire Man and Cut Man come to mind). I also hear a lot of one-two-three-one-two-three-one-two one-two-three-one-two-three-one-two rhythms everywhere. And, a whole lot of galloping, especially in Mega Man music. I wonder if Manami Matsumae and others liked Iron Maiden (*edit* how fitting, this is my 666th post!) or Metallica for example? I also hear that VI VII I change, all over the place...the most famous example being the progression at the end of the arpeggiated Final Fantasy melody. I don't even know if it can be called a cadence in the traditional sense, though functionally that's really what it is.

What I'm curious about is what the influences were of all the japanese composers who employed this style in so many NES games. It's also interesting that this began to morph, change, and eventually evaporate as hardware got more complex. Soundtracks became increasingly more ambient, until today where you rarely hear a melody that gets stuck in your head, except when composers are setting out to sound retro. (to me anymore, retro is actually synonymous with "good")

I'd like to know the musicological reasons why the composers chose the sounds they did in Japan. Was it japanese folk music? Was it familiarity with progressive and 80's rock which had some similar characteristics, mixed with an upbringing that included a lot of classical piano and violin training (stereotypically, in many cases I imagine it is in fact true)? The answer is probably something complex like that...

It's a style all its own. It's some of the best music I've ever heard.

*edit* What's really interesting is when you hear a soundtrack that completely stands on its own, that really sounds like nothing else. The best example I can think of on the NES is Norfair from Metroid. Those chords! So eerie, and with such a simple set of sounds...
*edit* I'd put Kirby's Adventure in that same category of extreme uniqueness. One thing I love about that soundtrack is how consistently the bassline is one of the square waves instead of the triangle wave. They use this combination so effectively it almost sounds like a different sound chip.
*edit* Just thought of Rygar. Only ever uses the two square waves for actual music---triangle and noise are exclusively reserved for sound effects. An interesting choice---I wonder if it was due to the programmers having difficulty getting an engine working that could overlay sound effects or was it a conscious, artistic choice? Regardless of why, the result was unique and I think, weirdly atmospheric. I love the music in the towers and in the final area for instance.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:37 pm 
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On the topic of why retro game soundtracks the way they do: Yeah, I do think, that pop, classical and rock music heavily influenced composers. To be honest I like that. The way everything mashed up lead to the creation of some really great music, in my opinion.

GradualGames wrote:
I wonder if Manami Matsumae and others liked Iron Maiden

I wouldn't be surprised. Mega Man 2's soundtrack does remind me a lot of Iron Maiden's style. The Wood Man theme, for instance, sounds exactly like something Steve Harris would compose for one of their songs. Now, maybe it's because I've listened to both Mega Man 2's music and Iron Maiden quite a lot, but I'm noticing odd similarities between The Trooper and the beginning of the Dr. Wily Stage 1 Theme... I don't know why, the rhythm, the way the notes are put together, it just feels similar, even though it's quite a stretch.

GradualGames wrote:
Soundtracks became increasingly more ambient, until today where you rarely hear a melody that gets stuck in your head, except when composers are setting out to sound retro.

It's most likely because composers today want to make game soundtracks similar to movie soundtracks and since a lot of the music in a movie is ambient to fit the tone of the scene, they just did it like that. It does piss me off, however. I think you can have themes, that are both epic-sounding and catchy. The Metal Gear Solid soundtrack is a good example. It's both cinematic and catchy. I find myself humming the Encounter theme just as much as any of the tracks from the previous Metal Gear games. I wish more composers made music like that.

GradualGames wrote:
What's really interesting is when you hear a soundtrack that completely stands on its own, that really sounds like nothing else. The best example I can think of on the NES is Norfair from Metroid. Those chords! So eerie, and with such a simple set of sounds...

I agree. The Metroid soundtrack is pretty atmospheric, especially for an early NES title. I think it fits well with the claustrophobic and lonely feel the game tries to create.
There is some more eerie NES music like the Land of Mist theme from Faxanadu or pretty much the entire soundtrack of Sweet Home. It's quite amazing how atmospheric they are.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:48 pm 
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AlienX wrote:
It's most likely because composers today want to make game soundtracks similar to movie soundtracks and since a lot of the music in a movie is ambient to fit the tone of the scene, they just did it like that. It does piss me off, however. I think you can have themes, that are both epic-sounding and catchy. The Metal Gear Solid soundtrack is a good example. It's both cinematic and catchy. I find myself humming the Encounter theme just as much as any of the tracks from the previous Metal Gear games. I wish more composers made music like that.


Amen man! I wholeheartedly agree. I don't get why so many composers just seem to forget melody. To me melody makes atmosphere way more intense than mere ambient sounds. Maybe the grim truth is, indie games is huge, tons of people want to make games, tons of people can use a PC and type notes into a tracker with some ambient soundfonts, but not as many people actually learn how to compose music. So ironically the ones who can and DO compose good music gravitate naturally towards retro games...

*edit* I've long admired Napalm Man and Crystal Man (good example of the 12312312 rhythm mentioned above) and many others from Mega Man 5. These....defy description and categorization completely. I mean...they completely blow me away. So unique, so beautiful, in so many ways. ....Might be because it was my first mega man game...nostalgia probably running high, no idea. But this is special stuff.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 3:48 pm 
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GradualGames wrote:
I also hear that VI VII I change, all over the place...the most famous example being the progression at the end of the arpeggiated Final Fantasy melody.
First I was thinking you were being wrong about putting the chord numbers in upper case there, but having now looked at the chord progression again (C a C a Fmaj7 G A♭ B♭) ... well, the uppercase is right, but A♭ and B♭ aren't in C so I'm not certain what the right theory way is to represent it. Maybe I vi I vi IV7 V VI/i VII/i ... borrowing from the parallel minor isn't unheard of, and using vii° instead of V is even kinda common. Most modern classical-ish things play fast and loose with the rules anyway, so I'd probably just call that a normal perfect cadence.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 4:49 pm 
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GradualGames wrote:
Was it familiarity with progressive and 80's rock...

Many Japanese composers were influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, Emerson Lake & Palmer...etc. etc. basically 70s hard rock & prog, and in the '80s heavy metal / buttrock... & Yellow Magic Orchestra. You can hear these influences absolutely everywhere.

Oh, and a different (overlapping?) school of composers were influenced by jazz fusion, like Casiopea & Naoya Matsuoka. You can hear this strong style in Sega, Konami, and Namco's in-house bands, even when it's totally inappropriate for the game (ie: SST's fusion arrangement of frickin' Golden Axe on one of their CDs.)

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:19 am 
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ccovell wrote:
Many Japanese composers were influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, Emerson Lake & Palmer...etc. etc. basically 70s hard rock & prog, and in the '80s heavy metal / buttrock... & Yellow Magic Orchestra. You can hear these influences absolutely everywhere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJi2Q5NgOHw :x (<- why does :x = mad)

Looks like I'm collecting enough similarities to make another one of these vids.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2016 2:26 pm 
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Espozo wrote:
For a nice soundfont, of course I'm going to list R-Type III.

You know, I jam out to the Super R-type OST quite a bit, but I never really sat down and focused on the R-Type III OST until you said this. I've listened to it a few times since then and I do like it quite a bit. Boss Battle 3 may be my favorite in-game rendition of the classic boss theme, with that song being one of my favorite all-time video game melodies. There are many good tracks on the OST, the three most memorable to me after a couple cursory listens are Boss Battle 3, Final Boss, and The Forces. There may even be better songs that just haven't stuck yet.

All song writing aside though, my call for best SOUNDING electric guitars on the console would go to this track from Earthbound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4z82byt5mA. I feel like it slightly edges out the IREM stuff and the Mega Man X stuff.

Another OST for SNES with a lot of electric guitars, for which I have a lot of appreciation is the Y's III OST. Feel free to skip the game, although I enjoyed it quite a bit as a very early action RPG for the console. I think it would be hard to hate the soundtrack much though. The PC Engine CD version has CD audio, but there are some tracks I actually prefer on the SNES version. Maybe it's because I grew up with it and the sound of the SNES though. One thing that I'll note that I think I like the most in the OST is the electric bass. It sounds good, and I feel they are really well written bass lines. They fit the pocket of bass really well, delivering driving rhythm when the track is led by melody, and countering well with the drums when it comes to defining more complex rhythms. Most of the "hooks" that stick out in my mind from this OST are actually bass riffs.

(I'm listening to the OST as I write this, and from the tracks that I've hit so far, it doesn't sound like they made much attempt to render the guitar instruments as guitars on the console. No samples as far as I can tell, so they sound like synth leads to me, or synth horns. However, the electric bass is the star of the SNES version of the soundtrack.)

rainwarrior wrote:
Those are two examples that came easily to mind, but I'm sure I could dig up like a hundred examples in pop and classical music

I'll throw in another one from an NES game which is very similar:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOp2A4jNA5c
It is a very simple melody, but I'd heard the Method Man song a lot and it instantly came to mind when I heard the track from Kickmaster. Although I'm surprised that I didn't notice the differing time signatures in the tracks until just now.

BioMechanical Dude wrote:
The boss theme has a much different style and tone, compared to the rest of the Kick Master soundtrack. All the level themes have that epic, heavy metal feel to them. So comparing the Kick Master soundtrack to Wu Tang Clan feels kinda weird to me.

What about this song? Granted, it's not a level theme, but I honestly have trouble coming up with a musical comparison for it which would be closer than the Wu-Tang clan.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icgms4Aro7E


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 3:22 pm 
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Ah, yes, I forgot to mention that one earlier. I wasn't saying the boss themes don't sound like rap music, but I felt that comparing the entire soundtrack to it would be weird to me. I do wonder, though, why did the composer choose a rap-like beat, when the rest of the soundtrack has a metal vibe to it?

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