Atari XEGS Ballblazer - computer generated Jazz improvisation




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Published on Apr 13, 2012

A sample of the theme music from Lucasfilm Games' 1984 Atari 8-bit computer game "Ballblazer" (later re-released for the Atari XE Game System in 1987), featuring a computer generated Jazz improvsation solo. The game was ported to other systems such as the Commodore 64 and NES, but I think the original Atari version has the best sounding music, thanks to the unique characteristics of the POKEY sound chip (which is also used by the Atari 5200 and 7800 video game versions of Ballblazer).

As Wikipedia explains the computer generated solo:

Ballblazer's theme music, called "Song of the Grid" and heard between matches, was algorithmically generated, a technique designed by Lucasfilm Games team leader Peter Langston and called "riffology". The lead melody is assembled from a predefined set of 32 eight-note melody fragments, or riffs, which are put together randomly by an algorithm that also makes choices on several parameters including "how fast to play the riff, how loud to play it, when to omit or elide notes, when to insert a rhythmic break". The melody is accompanied by bassline, drums and chords, which are also assembled on the fly by a simplified version of the above approach. In effect the music plays forever, without repeating itself but without straying too far from the original theme.

  • Game

    • Ballblazer
    • 1984
  • Category


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