Now I Really Have A Game Boy

Back in high school I discovered the music of Virt, a video game musician who back then was using Impulse Tracker to simulate the sound of the NES. Some of my favorites was his “Classical Favorites” tracks, available from his chiptunes page, albeit in tracker formats.

At the time, I was spending a lot of my own free time writing music with Impulse Tracker, so I dabbled a little bit in faking NES music, in my “LOFI” series, with some pleasing results. This was back around 2000 or so. I never quite got back into it, sadly.

Later on, I discovered 8bitpeoples, a musical collective of chiptune artists. I went to their Data Destruction Tour in Boston and got to talk to and admire the music of Bit Shifter, Nullsleep, and Covox. I wrote a little bit about their music in a post for alwaysBETA.

Anyway it’s been a couple years since then, and I’ve been excited to find out that Nullsleep, Bit Shifter, and crew are performing a showcase and debuting a documentary at this year’s SXSW festivals here in Austin. Needless to say, I got pretty stoked.

This revived my long-standing desire to get one of the handful of different Game Boy cartridges that people have made for writing chiptunes. The one I’d wanted for a long time is named Nanoloop, and I’m glad to say that I finally bit the builet and bought an original 1989 model Game Boy and the Nanoloop 1.3 cartridge!

For my first song, I took one of my old LOFI tracks and spent a short amount of time trying to mock it up on the actual Game Boy, to see how close I had come to simulating the real sound.

The results of this experiment are found in LOFI2. Compare with the original LOFI2, and please keep in mind that there are a lot more restrictions with using Nanoloop and a real Game Boy than I had in Impulse Tracker.

After a couple days, I put forth a little bit more effort and wrote my first completely new Game Boy track, Goof Step. For this track, I kept things simple by only writing one pattern for each of the four available channels. I merely turn them on and off at strategic times to create the structure of the track. I’m pretty pleased with the results, and soon enough I will pursue a more ambitious and complete track.

Enjoy!

Downloads:

Writing my first song in Logic Studio

A couple weeks ago I got the new Logic Studio, Apple’s professional-level music writing software.

I upgraded from Logic Express 7, which was almost three years old when I bought it. The polish was definitely lacking, and I got many headaches using it.

Before that I used an even older OEM version of Cubase LE that came with my PreSonus Firebox. The Firebox is an excellent piece of equipment but the old Cubase software is even more atrocious in this day and age. I got some good work done in it but it took a lot of work.

So, long story short, I’ve been training myself with the 73-page Getting Started manual for the last few weeks. After that I might delve into parts of the bundled 1000-page manual for Logic Pro 8 and the 660-page manual for its bundled software instruments and effects!

Today I decided to try my hand at composing something real. I screwed around by layering a Bitcrusher distortion and a stereo Chorus on top of the “Hollow Pad” patch of the included ES E (Ensemble Synth) software instrument.

For drums I took one of the stock loops, Analog Drum Machine 52, and looped it under the stock Compressor with the “Toms Strong Compression” patch and under the SilverVerb reverb unit with the “Room” patch.

Overall, it’s a bit repetitive but it took only about an hour to throw together. Enjoy!

Grant Hutchins – First Logic Song

Warning Forever

Recently Austin (the person) and I have been playing Warning Forever, an innovative freeware video game for Windows that had a small wave of interest a few years ago.

Warning Forever is a “Shoot ‘Em Up”, or shmup, which means you basically fly a ship around the screen and shoot at enemies. What makes Warning Forever different is that there are only boss enemies, one at a time.

On top of that, after beating one enemy, the next enemy evolves defenses based on the strategies you use. So if you find it easy to attack the front of the enemy for a quick kill, the next enemy will have a beefed-up front section. Thus you are encouraged to start with strategies that you are not good at in order to build up the enemy’s more useless defenses.

All in all, this game evokes many of the qualities I find important in a game: replayability, challenge, and direct feedback. Perhaps most importantly, the game takes a simple concept and lets it shine without muddying it up with over-designed details.

Give it a shot sometime.

Campbell’s Soup

Warhol's Campbell Tomato Soup

I’m a big fan of Campbell’s Soup.

It’s simple, easy to make, and as American as apple pie. And more importantly, there are more varieties than I can even comprehend.

I like to grab a random soup that I’ve never tried before and take the plunge.

About a year ago I tried Pepper Pot Soup, which apparently is a popular soup style in Jamaica that was traditionally thought to have been invented during the American Revolution when Washington’s army was down to just beef tripe and peppercorns.

Sounds disgusting, eh? It wasn’t so bad, but it did take a bit of an open mind.

Right now I’m trying out Golden Mushroom, which is a savory creamy beef stock soup with lots of mushroom pieces. I think I like this one a bit better.

Anyway, the can of soup is a staple of the bachelor life, and offers better nutrition and selection than something like ramen, so it gets my seal of approval.

Local Austin flavor

In two months I will have been in Austin for a year, and so far I’ve had a blast. From Austin City Limits Festival and SxSW Interactive to tons of local events in-between, I have more than satisfied my hunger for local flavor.

Speaking of flavor, I highly recommend several local food products.

maine root

My favorite would have to be Maine Root sarsaparilla soda, which despite its name and its roots in Maine (pun intended), has an Austin branch after one of its founders moved here. Their pungent and powerful ginger brew is also great.

Jeremy & El Milagro

I also suggest El Milagro tortilla chips, made just east of I-35 on Sixth Street. To date they are the only chips that could possibly compare to the fresh chips at Oklahoma City’s Ted’s Café Escondido, which despite a year in Austin is still my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. I will need to conduct further research here in town.

Musicians wait for the Best Wurst too

Whenever I’m downtown breakdancing at a club I often satiate myself with the best street food in Austin, the Best Wurst. I like it with everything: onions, sauerkraut, mustard, and their very own special curry ketchup.

For more reviews check out my Yelp profile