Project Button Masher: Robo Miner AI Hotfix

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jan 8, 2015

Filed under: Music 67 comments

It’s time to take another stab at imitating videogame soundtracks. This week we’re going to try the Descent soundtrack. Unlike last week, I’m going to do what I can to try and make this one sound like it really belongs in the game, which means trying to re-create the old MIDI sounds.

The Descent music has been remixed a lot over the years. Some people heard those old MIDI tunes and felt the need to rebuild them with modern instruments. Sometimes the new version would be a faithful adaptation, and sometimes it would be unrecognizable, bordering on sonic vandalismLet’s be clear: The person who did the unfaithful remix is still more musically capable than I am..

For my project, I’m going to compose something original, but get as close to the old MIDI sounds as I can. Thankfully, MAGIX has a tool to help with this:

Are we making music or going to the moon?

That looks… scary. And it kind of is. There are a couple of video tutorials for this thing on YouTube, but they were so thick with music jargon that I couldn’t follow them, and they usually boiled down to the teacher just reading the damn interface to me. “This is the OSC glide. It will let you adjust the glide for the OSC up or down.” Gosh, thanks Yoda. You really unraveled that mystery for me.

But I did manage to sort it out through trial and error, and once you know how it works it’s actually super-powerful and fun. (If anyone is really curious I can give you the run-down in a future post. It’s not nearly as terrifying as it looks.)

But the basic idea of this thing is that you can create your own instruments using really primitive building blocks. You get sawtooth waves and sine waves and such, which are really raw forms of sound. Another tool might let you create an instrument by taking an audio file of the instrument you’re playing (maybe a piano playing middle C) and then shifting the pitch up and down, like auto-tuning a singer. But with this tool we’re building sounds from the ground up.

This is good, because that’s very similar to how the old MIDI cards worked, so we should be able to re-create any 1993 MIDI instrument we like. All we need is a good ear and a knack for using this tool. I don’t have either of those things, but I basically muddled through.

I listened to the Descent soundtrack, trying to figure out what made it sound distinct, aside from the MIDI instruments. Here were the guesses I came up with:

  1. Really strong bass line. Usually your lead instrument in somewhere in the middle range, but a lot of Descent songs put the focus on the instrument thumping away near the bottom.
  2. Super complex drums. I imagine the original composer was a real drummer and possibly had a MIDI drum set, because there was a big focus on drum complexity. For a lot of electronic songs, it’s fine if you just take a couple of measures of rhythmic thumping and taping and repeat them for the whole song. It’s like playing along with the old “auto-drums” on an 80’s synthesizer. But here the drums are always changing patterns and trying to be as complex and as interesting as the rest of the music.

    This is one of the reasons the Descent soundtrack sounded so horrible on late 90’s soundcards. Your MIDI drum bank might list a number of available sounds: Bongo, snare, cymbal, triangle, cowbell, kick drum, wood block, and so on. In 1993, those were all basically the same 8-bit sounding blip of white noise, at different pitches. Sometimes the composer would run through the drums from low pitch to high, or whatever. It sort of sounded like they were using a collection of different-sized snare drums. And those old sounds were brief and quiet, so the composer made them loud and numerous.

    But then in the late 90’s, soundcards tried making all those drums sound how they “should”. A cowbell was a cowbell sound and a bongo drum now sounded like a bongo. Thus the Descent tunes would turn into this cacophony of insane, random drums that would drown out the music, the game sounds, and your wife shouting at you to turn that noise off before you wake up the baby.

  3. Lots of fast notes that run the scales. I don’t know what music nerds call this, but I’ll bet there’s a word for it. One instrument might cover several octaves, jumping up and down the keyboard for single notes.

And the result:

I’m not at all happy with how it turned out. I spent hours fiddling with instrument sounds until I couldn’t remember the sounds I was trying to create and it all blurred together into a mishmash of beeps and boops. I lost my way, got frustrated, and ran out of time. I think I could do better if I started over entirely, but this is what I got on this attempt. And this exercise means nothing if I don’t document the failures along with the successes. Anyway, I might feel completely different about this one if I come back to it in a month and can hear it with fresh ears.

Stuff I learned:

  1. I learned how to use the Revolta 2 to make MIDI-ish sounds. I’m not an expert or anything, and I couldn’t nail some of the instruments I was aiming for. But I learned a lot anyway.
  2. I’m a little better at mapping out drums. I didn’t really do the drums justice on my track, but I did what I could. I don’t have a good feel for drums yet, so I spend a lot of time painstakingly placing beats, listening to the entire measureMAGIC has a really annoying habit for waiting an extra second or two before starting the music, just to make this as tedious as possible., trying to figure out what I did wrong, and then nudging the beats around until it sounds right.
 

Footnotes:

[1] Let’s be clear: The person who did the unfaithful remix is still more musically capable than I am.

[2] MAGIC has a really annoying habit for waiting an extra second or two before starting the music, just to make this as tedious as possible.



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67 thoughts on “Project Button Masher: Robo Miner AI Hotfix

  1. Da Mage says:

    I have always found ‘interesting’ music much better then what people call ‘good’ music….though that often overlaps. For that reason I really like non-voice music and my favorite stuff to listen to are game soundtracks or orchestral pieces. I was born half deaf, so I don’t have much actual music knowledge though.

    That said, I actually prefer this piece over some of your earlier work, it changes as it moves through the track and the beat is well hidden within the pieces that make up the music. Your early work seemed to drag on a bit for me, and every time I thought the music was going to step to a new section, it wouldn’t change and the whole song would sound very samey.

    Anyway, that’s just my opinion, but I really enjoyed listening to this one.

    1. Bropocalypse says:

      I have always found “˜interesting' music much better then what people call “˜good' music…

      Check out “The Most Wanted Song” and “The Most Unwanted Song” on youtube, they were commissioned by NPR based on the wants of a focus group. The Most Wanted Song is incredibly bland, while the other is… An experience. We’re talking an opera singer rapping country music lyrics while kids sing about wal-mart.

      1. Groboclown says:

        “The Most Unwanted Song” still pops up on my playlist from time to time. Everything else stops while I listen in horror. Every time.

        1. Disc says:

          I think “The Most Bizarre Song” would be a more fitting name. There’s a method to the madness, otherwise I’d imagine it’d be just an incomprehensible, cacophonic mess. I’m 10 minutes and so far it’s been just kinda puzzling, a little hilarious and surprisingly entertaining. It’s not great music by any measure, but it’s something.

  2. Zagzag says:

    One thing that I can say is that you’re definitely achieving your stated goal of getting away from the same small niche that all your original music fell into. I agree that the drums could probably use some improvement to add more to the piece as a whole, but it’s not bad or a bad interpretation of the Descent track you listed by any means, and it’s a lot of fun to hear what you can do. You’re making great progress and I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing where this takes you and what you’ll be producing with a bit more familiarity with the software!

    EDIT: By the way, your previous track had the name of the game it was inspired by in the filename on Soundcloud, but this one doesn’t. Was that intentional?

    1. Shamus says:

      Not intentional. I meant to do that for every track. Forgot this time.

  3. Joshua says:

    Should be really strong *bass* line, shouldn’t it?

    1. Shamus says:

      I will probably make that mistake forever. In my mind, “bass”is a fish and pronouncing it “base” is just asking too much. There is only so much bullshit I can tolerate from my native language in a single day.

      Anyway. Fixed. Thanks!

      1. MichaelGC says:

        Just to muddy the linguistic waters further, ‘base’ would have been basically (ahaha) correct – just rather archaic. (That spelling is still used for ‘lowest’ in other contexts – e.g. ‘base desires’ or ‘thing this other thing is standing on’.)

        So: it’s an older spelling, sir, but it checks out…

        1. As in “baseline” yeah.

          But here ya go Shamus, problem solved http://www.chazonmedia.com/guardians/images/BASSFISH.jpg

          1. Epopisces says:

            I bet he could play through some scales on that one.

            1. Shamus says:

              Well played, both of you. I award you each one honorary Rutskarn.

            2. Decius says:

              That looks slippery. I hope he doesn’t drop the base.

          2. swenson says:

            Which, in music, is the bassline.

            And pronounced exactly the same.

            English orthography is fun!

        2. D-Frame says:

          Hmm, I strongly doubt that. The instrument bass is called that because of the voice type bass, which in turn stems from latin “bassus”, which means “strong”. So it has nothing to do with “base” in the sense of being underneath something. In contrast, the word base stems from the ancient greek “bà¡sis”, meaning “foundation”.

      2. Eruanno says:

        “Bass” and “base” will continue to confuse us non-native English speakers forever… xD

        1. Felblood says:

          Why just the non-native ones?

          1. Cuthalion says:

            When I see “bass”, I always hear the fish, even when I know we’re talking about music. And I play bass. And English is my native language.

  4. ACman says:

    Notes that run the scales? You mean like an arpeggio?

    1. Primogenitor says:

      or “play a chord in order rather than all at once, and plus the lowest note an octave (8 white notes) higher” in Shamus-music-speak

    2. Richard says:

      Or possibly a glissando?

    3. tengokujin says:

      Came down here to find this, was not disappointed. :p

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “There are a couple of video tutorials for this thing on YouTube, but they were so thick with music jargon that I couldn't follow them, and they usually boiled down to the teacher just reading the damn interface to me. “This is the OSC glide. It will let you adjust the glide for the OSC up or down.” Gosh, thanks Yoda. You really unraveled that mystery for me.”

    So what you would like is for someone to explain to you what OSC is?Well its simply really:OSC is the thing thats being adjusted by the OSC glide,and it can be adjusted up or down.

    1. Thomas says:

      I love the idea that someone looked at that slider and decided that what people really might be confused about was the idea that it turned something up and down.

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        Half expecting the codebase to have a comment like this for the function that captures the user input from adjusting that OSC glide value:

        //Every time this UIEvent for adjusting the OSC glide is called, a //variable that controls OSC is incremented or decremented the delta of
        //change in the OSC glide value

    2. Bryan says:

      On…Screen…Chime?

      Yeah, that must be it!

      (Actually, Google isn’t helping either. It doesn’t make any sense for a music protocol — Open Sound Control — to have a glide, based on that description. It does make sense for a glide (assuming that’s some kind of instrument or effects box I’ve never heard of) to talk OSC, but the description makes it sound like the OSC is the thing, and the glide is what controls it, not the other way around. Ohio Supercomputer Center is just silly…)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Oscilation would be my guess.

  6. Tom Davidson says:

    A bunch of fast notes that run a scale (or a similar progression) up and down is known as an “arpeggio.”

    1. A Gould says:

      Well, strictly speaking, an arpeggio (think Aristocats – “Do mi do mi do so mi do / Every truly cultured music student knows / You must learn your scales and your arpeggios” ) is just a “broken scale” (where you don’t use all the notes in the scale) – the speed is just because once you’ve practiced your scales and arpeggios enough times, you speed up just out of boredom. :)

      For the non-Disney fans, another example would be the main riff from “In The Mood”.

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        And now Shamus knows everything about arpeggios and trembalos.

        Next week’s lesson: Meedley vs. Squiggly: Who wins in a fight?

      2. DrMcCoy says:

        Yeah, in music theory, this is correct.

        But in chiptune composing, arpeggio generally means this effect:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvpCzHNQV2U&t=2m5s

    2. Wray says:

      It might not be an arpeggio. He might be talking about actual runs up and down the scale. Disclaimer:haven’t listened to the Descent soundtrack.

    3. postinternetsyndrome says:

      Two threads about this, but I’ll post here since it already has the most posts.

      Conventionally, an arpeggio is the notes of a specific chord, played in sequence, though maybe it could be used to refer to any gratitous sequence of notes that are not the full scale, as A Gould says.

      Richard in the other thread mentions glissando, which is a word which can refer to several things, but its essential meaning is a transition between two notes by means of playing all the notes in between. Whether that entails playing the notes of the scale, playing chromatically or even a continous slide (as is possible on unfretted string instruments and some others) is sometimes up to interpretation and context.

      I really wish “trembalo” was an actual music term. It has a great ring to it. The chiptune thing DrMcCoy linked to sounds a lot like a tremolo though. :P

      Scale runs can comfortably be called “scale runs” or “scales” or whatever. I don’t know if there is a more specific term for it actually. It’s the default assumption in a lot of music anyway. “Skalrà¶relser” we say in Swedish, though I suppose that’s no help. :)

      Going back to Shamus’s original point though, I’m not sure I actually understands what he means at all:

      “Lots of fast notes that run the scales” seem to contradict “jumping up and down the keyboard for single notes.”

      If he means melodies with large jumps, there’s a Swedish term for that: Vidmelodik, which would translate to “wide melodics” I guess. That is sort of the opposite to scale movements though so I don’t know.

      1. tengokujin says:

        If there only were a way to upvote this comment. :3

      2. Felblood says:

        When he talks about running up and down the scales, I don’t think he’s talking about “running” or a single octave scale (but rather the entire scale as he defined it back in “Bad and Wrong Music Lessons”).

        Remember that part of the objective here is for him to figure out how to produce pleasant music without having to learn 1000 years of conflicting terminology standards in 5 languages.

  7. KingJosh says:

    I am totally for another post explaining the “MIDI sounds” tool. As someone who loves music, but is tone-deaf and completely lacking in rhythm, I love these posts explaining how music works and how it’s possible to make music with software rather than traditional intstraments. It’s AWESOME.

    1. Chris says:

      Well, MIDI is the control language. It doesn’t make any sounds directly, but you can use it to tell devices how to make sounds. With MIDI, you could tell a synth “I hit the C# key in the third octave this hard, wiggled it a little bit while it was down, and then slowly let it up after one full beat.” The synth’s programming (called a “patch” or a “preset”) tells it how things like the key wiggle, strike velocity, and release velocity affect the timbre of the output sound, as well as all the other aspects of the sound.

      As for how that synth Shamus pictured works, here’s a very basic rundown. The main sound generation is handled by those sections in the upper left labeled Oscillator 1, Oscillator 2, and Noise. The Oscs produce very simple sound waves, such as a sine, square, or saw. The ultra simple desciption is that sine is basic and clean, saws are full and buzzy, and squares are kind of in between. Some old synth manuals describe saws as brassy and squares as being like woodwinds. There’s way more two it than that, but that’s the basic idea. Noise is exactly what it says on the tin. How you combine the two oscs and whether or not you mix in some noise determines the basic character of your sound. You can get a pretty surprising diversity of tones out of just a few different wave shapes.

      The next important section are those sliders labeled Amp. In simple terms, they control the shape of the volume. The shape is called an envelope. The ADSR labels stand for attack, decay, sustain, and release, respectively. Attack is how long the sound takes to reach peak volume. Decay is how long it takes to fall from the peak down to the level set by sustain (so if sustain is maxed, decay doesn’t impact the sound at all), and release is how long the sound takes to fade out after the note ends. For a plucky or percussive sound, you might use a very short attack, a shortish decay, a low sustain, and little to no release. For a swelling orchestra swing sound, you would use fairly long values. The envelope can also vary in influence based on how hard you strike a key on the keyboard. That’s what the Vel slider is for.

      The filter is important in shaping the timbre of the sound. It allows you to carve away frequencies from the raw oscillator tones. The filter is the main reason why this particular type of synthesis is called “subtractive synthesis”. You start with a full tone from the oscillator and subtract away bits of it with the filters and the amp envelope. Filters are named for the frequencies they *don’t* remove, so a filter that cuts off low frequencies is called a highpass filter. A filter that cuts off the low and the high, leaving the middle is called a bandpass filter. This synth can work as either a lowpass, highpass, or bandpass. You set the frequency where the filter starts cutting with the cutoff knob. Resonance creates a narrow boost of the frequencies right around the cutoff, which can create some interesting tones. The filter can have an envelope just like the amplitude does. In this case, the envelope shape determines how the filter goes from fully closed (or sometimes fully open) to the cutoff value and back again.

      Envelopes are a type of modulator, in that they change (or modulate) values in the sound over time. Another common modulator is the LFO, featured in the lower left of this synth. LFO stands for Low Frequency Oscillator. They are similar to the main sound generating oscillators above, but they play at a much, much, much lower pitch than a regulator oscillator. They oscillate so slowly that you can pretty clearly discern the peaks and valleys in the cycle. They don’t (usually) produce audio directly, but are most often used to change another parameter’s value. For example, all that wobble in Dubstep? That’s often done by using an LFO to modulate a filter’s cutoff frequency up and down to extreme values. For a more subtle use, you could modulate a regular oscillator’s pitch up and down very slightly to produce a vibrato effect. You can even have an LFO adjust another LFO. For instance, suppose you want a bass wobble that wobbles in its wobbliness (bear with me). You set LFO1 to modulate the filter’s cutoff, then you set LFO2 to modulate LFO1’s depth. Modulation is where you get most of your sonic complexity in subtractive synthesis, and the number and types of modulators and what they could be connected to is a major differentiator in older synths.

      Obviously, there’s way, way more to all of this, and there’s plenty more to explore just in this simple little synth Shamus pictured, but those are the basics. This wall of text is probably imposing enough for now.

      1. Richard says:

        **applause**

      2. Blake says:

        Not that it’s of practical use to me, but I appreciated your explanation.

      3. postinternetsyndrome says:

        I’m an acoustic guy, so I don’t know a lot about the electrical side of things, but what kind of wave is generated by the basic sine generator? If it is a pure sine wave, how could you remove frequencies from it? Doesn’t it already have only one? I do know that the characteristics of an instrument vs another is determined by its overtone spectrum. Can you achieve a wider spectrum from manipulating a single sine wave? Maybe there’s a time component here that I’m missing. As I said, I’m not 100% with the technical stuff. :)

        1. Chris says:

          You’re spot on about the sine wave. Filtering a single sine just reduces its volume. However, once you start dealing with multiple detuned sines or a sine and a square, or a sine and noise, or a sine that’s overdriving the filter, now you have more harmonics to work with and carve away as necessary.

      4. KingJosh says:

        Thanks for the answer! That does explain a lot. (I’d still like to read Shamus’s post on the subject, but I like to read his posts on almost ANY subject!)

    2. Felblood says:

      As someone with a fairly powerful triple oscillator built into his MIDI editor/player (LMMS), and no real idea what any of these knobs do, I would love to read a post explaining the process that lead to any one of the timbres used.

      I suspect a guy could have a lot of fun with one of these, if he knew what even a third of these knobs actually did.

  8. DrMcCoy says:

    I feel like you really shouldn’t be using the term MIDI all the time here. MIDI is just the set of messages like “play a C on channel one”, with an additional General MIDI standard defining minimum channel count and the program change events mapped to specific instruments.

    How most old cards played them was to map those messages and programs to commands for synthesizer chips, most notably the OPL2 on Sound Blaster and AdLib cards for IBM-compatible PCs. And yes, those worked by FM synthesize, chaining together generic simple waveforms.

    But: those cards didn’t only play MIDI. Most games didn’t even use MIDI but programmed those synth chips themselves. They either invented their own storage format, or used the ROL format of the AdLib visual composer. Or they used a modified ROL format, since the AdLib SDK at that time came with sample code loading and playing something similar to ROL.

    Also, both the Roland MT-32 and the Gravis Ultrasound, released in 1987 and 1992 respectively, already came with wavetables that became the rage on soundcards later. They played MIDI in high fidelity with real drums too.

    1. lethal_guitar says:

      Yes, keeps tripping me up as well. Although I guess for most people the term “MIDI” is just more or less synonymous to oldschool/8bit/lo-fi sound.

      1. Lupinzar says:

        I’ve heard people refer to any sort of chiptune as “Nintendo” since that’s their only frame of reference.

        I probably would have made the same mistake several years ago. My first real computer had Windows 3.1 and it did play MIDI files through the OPL chip using a driver that mapped general MIDI instruments to FM patches. So essentially all music that wasn’t sample-based sounded the same.

    2. I’m not even sure if modern soundcards/drivers still have software synthesizers any more.

      The old Soundcards with MIDI support had chips with the samples on them.
      Some even let you upload sample banks.
      Then those banks moved to software emulation (no hardware any more)
      No idea if MIDI songs would play “out of the box” on a Soundblaster Z today for example.

      I know MicroSoft used to ship a Softsynth with the OS for a while. But no idea if Windows 7 and 8 still does. (I think XP did).

      You may need to install a special software synth today to be able to pay MIDI songs or games that play “MIDI”.

      Then there is this mess, what do one mean by MIDI. MIDI GM, MIDI GS, MIDI XG, they all have different soundbacks/standards.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_MIDI_standards

      HAng on, I found this artticle http://blog.markheadrick.com/2012/10/01/how-to-make-midi-files-sound-better-in-windows-7/

      Here is a comparison of MicroSoft (Roland Sound Canvas?) and Yamaha S-YXG50
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_jdmZ89V6c&fmt=18

      The Yamaha soft synth is nowhere to be found these days. It’s a shame as it is a “XG” while the Roland is “GM” (I think, not sure if it’s level 2 or not) if I recall correctly.

      I used to have a soundcard (Hercules Game Theatre XP) tat came with the Yamaha S-YXG50 free as part of the software bundle.
      The quality of the synth and the soundbank that came with it blew anything else out of the water.

      That youtube video is representative of the general difference I heard on normal MIDI songs.
      On MIDI songs composed using/for the XG the quality was even better obviously.

      EDIT:
      Check out this, it might be a solution to getting MIDI files to play nicely on x64 systems etc.
      http://coolsoft.altervista.org/en/virtualmidisynth

      1. After a quick test (using Descent Level 1) as comparison I found that installing VirtualMIDISynth along with the Musyng Kite SoundFont (bottom of page, a whooping 1GB when decompressed) and the Vanbasco MIDI/Karaoke player (recommended by the guy that made VirtualSynth) is a great combo

        The Musyng Kite SoundFont has a better sounding TR-808 than the MicroSoft/Roland one and while the soundfont the guy behind VirtualSyth uses sounds better I found that the Musyng Kite SoundFont sounded more like a 808 and closer to the original Descent (assuming that this is representative of the original sound.
        (I’m pretty sure the composer had a 808 hooked up to a midi controller of some sort back then).

        One thing for sure, with this setup the midi songs no longer sound like “MIDI” songs, this is probably about as close as one can bet the real instruments used.
        And it’s certainly miles better than the basic MIDI soundfonts bundled with Windows etc.

        I guess it’s the uncanny valley of MIDI in a way.
        Too low quality and it gets it’s own charm, but up the quality and it starts to sound odd (a harmonica or violin sounds fake) it’s not until you get inter really high quality (and several hundred MB big quality soundfonts) that you get out of the uncanny valley.

  9. Chris says:

    Soundcloud tosses up an error every time I try to play it. Anyone else getting that?

    On the subject of musical jargon, can somebody concisely explain the difference between legato and portamento? Lots of synths use the terms basically interchangably. Best I can figure is that legato is osc glide for discrete note instruments like pianos and portamento is osc glide for continuously variable pitch instruments like violins. Is that anywhere close to correct?

    1. Lilith Novale says:

      Portmanto is basically an acoustic osc glide, yes.

      Legato, though, means to play smoothly (i.e. without silence between notes.)

  10. lethal_guitar says:

    If you’re interested in authentically recreating those old AdLib MIDI sounds, maybe this plugin is worth a look:

    https://github.com/bsutherland/JuceOPLVSTi

    It uses the same AdLib emulation code as DosBOX, but wrapped in a VST device. I don’t know if Magix supports VST, but pretty much any audio software I know does, so it should be possible to drop it in there.

    Here is an example of the thing in action:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI7U5XxTSW0

  11. Josef says:

    I think the “new” version of Descent track is not supposed to be a recreation but a different song. I think Mac and PC had at least some tracks different…

  12. lucky7 says:

    I actually like this song the most. I’m gonna have to take a gander at Descent.

  13. “they usually boiled down to the teacher just reading the damn interface to me”

    Man that just drives me nuts.
    You search for “blah review” on youtube etc, and you find a video.
    You are shown the package, then the unboxing and then they hold hte thing infront of the camera usually with autofocus going all over the place and sometimes not fully in frame even.

    Then they read the stats/bullet points and that’s it, maybe if you are lucky they’ll go “if you move this slider you change the volume”.
    I’ve seen this crap for headphones, microphones, mixers, you name it.
    Maybe if you are super lucky they’ll plug it in.

    And once in a blue moon they will actually test it (kind of important to hear microphone quality right?)

    And by miracle you may stumble upon a actual review where they tell you if the thing is balanced audio or not and show you advise on how to hook something up or the software use etc.

    It seems may do not grasp the difference between unboxing of hardware (and software) and a review or a tutorial.

    It’s almost as bad as looking up a solution for something on the net and finding a site/forum thread that describes the exact issue you have, and then the second post is “nm” yeah, screw you too buddy.

    The specs, features, box content and what things do is usually on the manufacturer/brand site these days.
    Many manufacturers even provide the manual for perusal online or as a downloadable, this allows you to truly see the details of it.

    What still you still need/want though is a review to help you gauge quality or highlight issues (things that reading a product page or manual can not provide),
    or a tutorial on how to use it (a few manufacturers/developers may actually provide those these days, which is awesome).

    It’s not a problem finding information or a video on something any more the problem is finding useful search results or video that don’t suck.

    Many times I’ve search for “game blah review” and the first few results are all pages that are empty, maybe the page says “We are sorry, we do not have any review for this game yet”, then why the heck do you have a review page for it? Just link baiting?
    The result is that in the future I will automatically ignore the same site even if they do have an actual review for a game; they are effectively self sabotaging when doing crap like that.

    Ditto with youtube videos. A review that turns out to be a unboxing? Yeah, never watching that channel again, that’s for sure.

    1. Felblood says:

      YouTube( and to a lesser degree Google itself) needs a way to exclude a particular channel from all future searches. I can think of a couple of individuals who keep coming up in my search results, but clearly have nothing of value to contribute to society. I’d like to stop seeing a video title and thinking, “Oh this could b what I need– wait. no. It’s just that guy.”

      It would give me an actual reason to browse logged in for one thing, but it would also ensure I spend more time in there.

  14. McGurker says:

    I’ll tell you what, I can’t remember if you talked about it but you use dynamics here a whooole lot better than in some of the previous songs. I think this is the most interesting thing I’ve heard you produce so far.

  15. xtian says:

    This is great! As a computer geek with no music training who muddles along in a choir full of people much better than me, I really love the way you’re explaining how music works. It makes far more sense than a lot of the seemingly contradictory explanations I’ve seen before.

    (The track wouldn’t play on Soundcloud for me either, but it downloads fine.)

    Have you seen Sonic Pi? http://sonic-pi.net/
    It’s a programming environment for making music (the author uses it for composing live in performances). I’ve just started playing around with it, but it has constructs for doing a lot of the stuff that Revolta 2 does. Overtone (http://overtone.github.io/ – made by the same guy) is probably closer, but I found it too low-level for someone who doesn’t already understand synths.

  16. Microtonal music (the notes you normally do not hear used in common music).

    Also… I’m now stuck on a “This Exists” marathon (damn you youtube).

  17. Friend of Dragons says:

    I’m not exactly a music specialist either, but I’d say what’s keeping your version from sounding more Descent-like is the higher (treble?) notes are a bit too loud/overpowering, and the longer slides don’t really fit with descent’s style of having quicker progressions of staccato notes for the higher tones with more drawn-out notes being more the realm of the bass line.

    The beginning sounds pretty Descent-ish, but after the higher notes kick in I’d say it starts sounding, to me, a little more reminiscent of FTL than Descent.

    Of course, I might just be completely wrong. I’m no expert.

  18. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Hey,since you are on the old games music binge,you should definitely try and replicate the airwolf theme.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Sacrilege! The only acceptable alternative versions of the majesty that is the Airwolf theme are text-based ones.

      By such methods one is able to represent a sliver of its true power, whilst not arrogating to oneself the impossible ability to modify perfection.

      Dur diddly dur, diddly dur, diddly dur, dur dur duur duur durdle durdle dur…

  19. Cuthalion says:

    LINK PROBLEM: your “last week” link goes to your categories page instead of the previous entry in the series.

    *goes back to reading post*

  20. Mephane says:

    Nice coincidence that Aeon published this article about the music abilities that we automatically pick up while growing up, just a few days ago:

    http://aeon.co/magazine/culture/how-all-humans-got-to-be-music-experts/

  21. Deadyawn says:

    I don’t know about sounding like descent but I can say that I actually really like this track. Not sure why but there you are.

  22. Lisa says:

    Just something amusing: I had your Soundcloud as a playlist while I was doing other things. I came back to the laptop to find that your ‘passage’ screensaver had switched on, and it goes very well with this particular bit of music.

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