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  • Miscellaneous Videos Play all

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  • Blood & Magic - Sound Canvas music Play all

    The music of Blood & Magic, as played by the game running in DOSBox connected to a Roland Sound Canvas SC-55mkII via a USB MIDI interface.

    Roland's Sound Canvas units are MIDI romplers (which produce musical notes by playing built-in, prerecorded digital sound samples). They were some of the first General MIDI-compliant devices. GM, published in 1991, mandated a standard list of instruments, which simplified composition of music for computer games at a time when there was a proliferation of MIDI hardware devices from different manufacturers.

    This is in contrast to the earlier use by many computer games of non-General MIDI-compliant devices like the Roland MT-32, which had its own proprietary set of instrument sounds. (Of course, unlike the MT-32, the Sound Canvas is not really a synthesizer, forcing composers to use the built-in timbres rather than create new sounds.)

    The Roland Sound Canvas was a kind of standard of computer music during its heyday. Some composers of early/mid-90s computer games scored their games with the Roland Sound Canvas in mind. One set of FM voice patches, designed by Team Fat and used by many games to play music on AdLib and Sound Blaster cards, was designed to have the card's FM OPL chip mimic the sound of each instrument as played by a Roland Sound Canvas.

    Blood & Magic uses the Human Machine Interfaces MIDI framework to play music. The tracks are stored in HMP format within the MAIN.STF file. Each stored file is referenced by a resource number, which I've included in the title of each video.

    The game is composed of 15 levels which are arranged in 5 "stories" of 3 levels each, and there's a musical track for each of the 15 levels. Each story also has 4 short tracks for its cutscenes.

    This playlist:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNXHw_ipV81hFwrXZN...

    from Blood & Magic (1996)
    Lead Music Composer: Ron Saltmarsh
    Music Composer: Andy Warr
    Game Developer: Tachyon Studios
    Game Publisher: Interplay Productions
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  • RoboCop 3 (PC) - Roland LA music Play all

    The music of RoboCop 3, as played by the game running in DOSBox connected to a Roland CM-64 via a USB MIDI interface.

    The CM-64, like the MT-32, CM-32L, and LAPC-I, is one of Roland's "Linear Arithmetic" synthesizers, which produce musical tones by combining PCM samples with synthesized waveforms. These devices, marketed to amateur musicians and players of computer games, were less expensive, less powerful relatives of Roland's D-50 Linear Arithmetic synthesizer which was used by professional musicians in the late 80s and 90s.

    These videos include a photo of the LA32 synthesis chip in my CM-64 which produced the sound recorded in the videos. The date code printed on it indicates that it was produced in the 13th week of 1989.

    In some of this game's music tracks, the various parts get noticeably out of sync with one another, meaning that some parts/instruments/voices play during parts of the tune when they're clearly not supposed to. This suggests that the game's music playback was more complex (and buggier) than simply streaming all parts together as a single MIDI sequence, as is done in many games.

    Also interesting is that instruments are not re-set when gameplay transitions from a mission to the subsequent mission briefing, causing the music for "Media Break" scenes and cutscenes to sound different depending on which mission was just played.

    RoboCop 3 uses the Roland LA synth for sound effects as well as for music, for example playing Low Timbale (a drum) from the MT-32's rhythm set when the player kills an enemy and playing Explosion (exclusive to later CM-units and LAPC cards) when a character fires a gun.

    Some of the tracks use extreme channel volume and velocity controls, causing horrible distortion when played on my CM-64, so I wrote some code to intercept and reduce the channel volume values in real-time. You could probably avoid this distortion on an MT-32 by turning down the master volume (unfortunately not so on the CM-64, whose master volume control is analog as opposed to digital).

    Recording all of the game's music tracks was made easier by the fact that the game engine is controlled by interpreted (uncompiled) script which can be found (and modified) in plain-text form within the ROBO.DAT file. There is a line like "#TUNE 1" that sets the music for each mission or stage of the game. Editing the "TUNE" number for a particular mission makes it easy to record each of the 10 tracks.

    I took the title of each track directly from a listing within the ROBO.DAT file, and tracks are ordered in this playlist according to that listing.

    This playlist (RoboCop 3 (PC) - Roland LA music):
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNXHw_ipV81jGXNH-G...

    from RoboCop 3 (1992)
    Audio: Barry Leitch
    Game Developer: Digital Image Design
    Game Publisher: Ocean
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  • Beneath a Steel Sky - Roland LA music Play all

    The music of Beneath a Steel Sky, as played by the game running in ScummVM connected to a Roland CM-64 via a USB MIDI interface.

    The CM-64, like the MT-32, CM-32L, and LAPC-I, is one of Roland's "Linear Arithmetic" synthesizers, which produce musical tones by combining PCM samples with synthesized waveforms. These devices, marketed to amateur musicians and players of computer games, were less expensive, less powerful relatives of Roland's D-50 Linear Arithmetic synthesizer which was used by professional musicians in the late 80s and 90s.

    These videos include a photo of the LA32 synthesis chip in my CM-64 which produced the sound recorded in the videos. The date code printed on it indicates that it was produced in the 13th week of 1989.

    I don't know whether official titles exist for the tracks, so I've named most of them after the areas of the game in which they are used.

    This playlist (Beneath a Steel Sky - Roland LA music):
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNXHw_ipV81iMUdWaO...

    from Beneath a Steel Sky (1994)
    https://www.gog.com/game/beneath_a_steel_sky
    Music: Dave Cummins
    Game Developer: Revolution Software
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  • Dark Sun: Shattered Lands - Roland LA music Play all

    The music of Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, as played by the game running in DOSBox connected to a Roland CM-64 via a USB MIDI interface.

    The CM-64, like the MT-32, CM-32L, and LAPC-I, is one of Roland's "Linear Arithmetic" synthesizers, which produce musical tones by combining PCM samples with synthesized waveforms. These devices, marketed to amateur musicians and players of computer games, were less expensive, less powerful relatives of Roland's D-50 Linear Arithmetic synthesizer which was used by professional musicians in the late 80s and 90s.

    These videos include a photo of the LA32 synthesis chip in my CM-64 which produced the sound recorded in the videos. The date code printed on it indicates that it was produced in the 13th week of 1989.

    Dark Sun's Roland LA soundtrack makes use of sound effects like the whistle from the MT-32's percussion set as well as sound effects only available on later devices (CM units and LAPC cards) such as wind and thunder sounds.

    Dark Sun uses the Audio Interface Library (AKA Miles Sound System) to play music, recorded as MIDI, through various sound devices. An XMIDI file for each region in the game contains, in addition to musical notation, special control messages describing subsequences and loops. Dark Sun's tracks contain on the order of 5 (as many as 8) subsequences each, for different modes like peaceful exploration, combat, and special plot events. The sound system loops a given subsequence indefinitely until instructed by the game to switch to another (e.g. because combat had begun or had ended).

    The XMIDI files are stored as resources within two files: RESOURCE.GFF for in-game music (which I've numbered "Rnn") and CINE.GFF for cinematic music (which I've numbered "Cn"). There are three versions of each track, for various sound devices: GSEQ for General MIDI and FM devices, LSEQ for Roland LA devices, and PSEQ for the PC speaker. The tracks are not named within the game files, so I've named most of them after the regions in which they are used.

    To record the game's full soundtrack, I modified the control messages in the files to have the game play through all subsequences of each music track (rather than loop one subsequence indefinitely), ran the game in DOSBox, and had it play each track in turn.

    This playlist (Roland LA version):
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNXHw_ipV81jl35mmy...

    See also the FM version of the soundtrack:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNXHw_ipV81hhOjy3N...

    from Dark Sun: Shattered Lands (1993)
    Music: Cooksey
    Music Engine: John Miles
    Game Developer: Strategic Simulations, Inc.
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  • Dark Sun: Shattered Lands - FM music Play all

    The music of Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, as played by the game running in DOSBox with Sound Blaster Pro emulation.

    Sound Blaster and AdLib cards used Yamaha OPL2 or OPL3 FM synthesis chips which produced each musical tone through phase modulation of 2 or 4 digital waveforms. These were less powerful versions of the chips in FM synthesizers like the Yamaha DX7 used by professional musicians in the 80s.

    The OPL2 and OPL3 have been studied so well by enthusiasts that emulators like DOSBox can recreate their sound near-perfectly.

    Dark Sun uses the Audio Interface Library (AKA Miles Sound System) to play music, recorded as MIDI, through various sound devices. An XMIDI file for each region in the game contains, in addition to musical notation, special control messages describing subsequences and loops. Dark Sun's tracks contain on the order of 5 (as many as 8) subsequences each, for different modes like peaceful exploration, combat, and special plot events. The sound system loops a given subsequence indefinitely until instructed by the game to switch to another (e.g. because combat had begun or had ended).

    The XMIDI files are stored as resources within two files: RESOURCE.GFF for in-game music (which I've numbered "Rnn") and CINE.GFF for cinematic music (which I've numbered "Cn"). There are three versions of each track, for various sound devices: GSEQ for General MIDI and FM devices, LSEQ for Roland LA devices, and PSEQ for the PC speaker. The tracks are not named within the game files, so I've named most of them after the regions in which they are used.

    To record the game's full soundtrack, I modified the control messages in the files to have the game play through all subsequences of each music track (rather than loop one subsequence indefinitely), ran the game in DOSBox, and had it play each track in turn.

    This playlist (FM version):
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNXHw_ipV81hhOjy3N...

    See also the Roland LA (MT-32) version of the soundtrack:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNXHw_ipV81jl35mmy...

    from Dark Sun: Shattered Lands (1993)
    Music: Cooksey
    FM Voice Design: The Fat Man
    Music Engine: John Miles
    Game Developer: Strategic Simulations, Inc.
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  • Dark Sun: Shattered Lands - cinematics Play all

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  • Divinity II: Ego Draconis - music Play all

    Music ripped from the PC version of Divinity II. These are tracks that were not included on the Original Sound Track.

    I extracted the BNKs from Soundbanks.dv2 using dv2_u, split those into vorbis-RIFFs with a little Perl script, and then used ww2ogg to convert those into Ogg files.

    The Perl script I wrote to do this is here: http://pastebin.com/0AYjWyec

    from Divinity II: Ego Draconis (2009)
    Composer: Kirill Pokrovsky
    Game Developer: Larian Studios
    Game Publisher: dtp entertainment / cdv
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  • Lords of the Realm - MT-32 music Play all

    The music of Lords of the Realm, as played by the game running in DOSBox connected to a Roland MT-32 via a USB MIDI interface.

    The MT-32, like the CM-32L, CM-64, and LAPC-I, is one of Roland's "Linear Arithmetic" synthesizers, which produce musical tones by combining PCM samples with synthesized waveforms. These devices, marketed to amateur musicians and players of computer games, were less expensive, less powerful relatives of Roland's D-50 Linear Arithmetic synthesizer which was used by professional musicians in the late 80s and 90s.

    These videos include a photo of my MT-32, which produced the sound recorded in the videos. It's one of the first-generation "Old" MT-32s.

    Lords of the Realm uses the Audio Interface Library (AKA Miles Sound System) to play music, recorded as MIDI, through various sound devices. This game does not take advantage of AIL/XMIDI's sequence-branch feature; each track basically contains a lead-in followed by a single section that is looped indefinitely.

    I modified the control messages in the *.XM2 files to have the main loop of each track play twice, then ran the game in DOSBox and had it play each track in turn.

    I've named each track after the filename of its XMIDI file.

    This playlist (Lords of the Realm - MT-32 music):
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNXHw_ipV81ioLyMM8...

    from Lords of the Realm (1994)
    Sound and Music: Jason Rinaldi
    Game Developer: Impressions Games
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