Tag Archives: fm synth

Band Saga: 16-bit-Inspired Music-Generated Roguelike on Kickstarter

Band SagaRichmond, Virginia – September 15, 2014 – Get ready for Band Saga, an intergalactic adventure of epic proportions that has just taken to Kickstarter for funding. This 16-bit-inspired music-generated Roguelike will allow players to interact with the game world in a unique way: by using an in-game FM sequencer to create tunes that will influence everything from the level design and enemies encountered to the game difficulty and colors displayed. With an incredible soundtrack by developer Roger “Rekcahdam” Hicks and an extended cast of guest musicians that includes Disasterpeace (of Fez), Grant “Stemage” Henry (of Metroid Metal), and Laura Shigihara (of Plants Vs. Zombies) among others, and melodies and sounds that are synthesized in real time as you play, music plays a huge role in Band Saga. Check out the Band Saga Kickstarter Campaign

The Band Saga soundtrack, composed by Roger “Rekcahdam” Hicks and friends, lays the foundation for the gameplay experience, although players are encouraged to modify the existing soundtrack or compose their own tunes using the game’s Sega Genesis-inspired FM sequencer to create all new twists within the Band Saga universe. A full list of contributing musicians is as follows:

Aivi Tran (Cryamore)
Bright Primate
Chelsea Davis
Danimal Cannon
Disasterpeace (Fez, The Floor is Jelly, Runner2)
Jeff Ball (Globulous, Tiny Barbarian, Timespinner)
Laura Shigihara (Plants Vs. Zombies)
Martina Chevalier
Mega Ran
Misfit Chris
Stemage (of Metroid Metal)

Check out the catchy Band Saga LP in its entirety on Bandcamp. Support the project on Kickstarter.

“The Chip Age” – A Review of Joshua Morse’s “Waveform 4”


“Hey buddy, you got chip in my jazz.  Actually, y'know what?  Just leave it there.  It's rad.”
“Hey buddy, you got chip in my jazz. Actually, y’know what? Just leave it there. It’s rad.”

Joshua Morse‘s newest jazz-fusion short release, Waveform 4, has to be the most charming thing I’ve heard in a good while. Jazz has always been my favorite style of music I know nothing about, and any time I come across an “X-jazz” genre tag I get all tingly. And if you’re a little more familiar with jazz and the word “fusion” terrifies you, I say, “Worry not, citizen!” This release keeps it reigned in, being creative and enjoyable without getting avant-garde or just plain weird. As per his own mission statement, Mr. Morse does indeed prove that not all jazz is elevator music.

Now, I do have to admit, it took me a little while to actually accept that this album is jazz-inspired, but that has everything to do with my skewed perceptions. I lay the blame squarely on my college’s radio station, which plays some really pretentious, fringe nonsense when it comes to jazz. I swear, next time I hear a DJ say “post-bop” on the air, I’m gonna call in and give someone a knuckle sandwich over the phone.

But, I digress. Every track on this short album (or EP, or “chipdisk” as Morse himself puts it, or what have you) is a choice cut. The opening track, “Turtle Dance 3,” brings it old school, straddling the line between honest jazz and arcade soundtrack that the retro gamers are incredibly familiar with. It won’t make you think of a specific title so much as like, all of Sega at once. “Fusion Factory” achieves the impossible by throwing a bunch of genres into a blender and creating a coherent product. There’s funk, there’s disco, there’s jazz, there’s chip, I could go on. Use your imagination, and “You Got Me” is the back-beat to an R&B jam 20 years out from now. I really expected Robotic Barry White to roll out at some point, no joke. “Galactic EQ Bands” sounds like something out of an 80s action movie soundtrack, and I mean that as high praise. The way it opens will put you right back into a Beverly Hills Cop shootout. The closer “It’s Like Flying” not only lives up to its title, but brings a truckload of passion to bear as well. You can put your own love-song lyrics to the synth and piano melodies in certain parts; that’s how much raw emotion this track has.

Naturally I’m gonna gripe about the length of this release, because it’s a knockout and I’d love more of it. At the same time, however, I’m rather thankful that it’s only five tracks long. Each track stands high and solitary, being entirely unique with regard to the other four. This is something I can’t really see as being possible in a full album’s worth of material, or at least I would consider it a feat only pulled off on incredibly rare occasions. Yet it works as an album as well because of the common jazz thread woven through each cut. I believe that balance, that “one out of many” quality is what makes this release truly special.

Danwich has begun work on an amateur American Gothic novel.  You can read its beginnings here.  He would love your votes.

Joshua Morse – Waveform 4

Joshua Morse - Waveform 4Hi all! I’ve recently released the 4th installment of my Waveform series, titled “Waveform 4”. It’s made up of 4 original Jazz-Fusion-style SNES/FM chiptunes, and my 3rd arrangement of Turtle Dance, which made its debut on Waveform 2.

If you like Waveform 4, then be sure to check out the other Waveforms:


I also arrange music from various video games and write music for them, too. Check me out on my Bandcamp page, like me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for more!

Tutorial: Making Some Fakebit Sega Genesis Sounds Within Your DAWS Application

I have really fond memories of the Sega Genesis system, which is strange because we were a humble, middle-class one-console (SNES) family and I only played it at the neighbor kid’s house. I have fond memories of playing Herzog Zwei and eating pizza all night in my friend’s dank basement. Lately, I’ve been wanting to explore the possibilities of composing chiptunes with the Sega Genesis’ Yamaha YM2612 FM chip. If you don’t want to read my rants, skip to the bottom for a quick list of what you need to downloaded to get started.

Genesis certainly was the coolest looking console of the era.
Genesis certainly was the coolest looking console of the era.

I thought I’d share my journey since it’s been a long and somewhat frustrating one. Right off the bat, I’ll tell you there are tons of options, the Sega Genesis and Master System use FM Synthesis, which tons of modern synthesizers support. You could technically create the same sounds with some of FL Studio and Logic’s native synthesizers, but it might not sound exactly like the Genesis itself.

The Genesis could also play samples. This is how most games did their drums. The super crunchy bitsmashed little samples are kind of what defined the sound of the 16-bit Sega era in my mind.

For now, I haven’t investigated native trackers – the Genesis equivalent to LSDJ might be out there somewhere but I don’t even have a console, so for now, this article is about how to get started fakebitting some Genesis sounds with some degree of realism within a DAWS like FL studio, Logic Pro or Cubase. It’s a long road to getting truly authentic, but I thought I could at least help people get started.


Genesis Trackers

My goal was to be able to compose in MIDI, not learn another tracker program. If you want to do that, you’ll want to get TFM Music Maker or the very comprehensive DefleMask. It’s actually pretty easy and similar to LSDJ and Famitracker, but I just wanted to compose in a familiar environment and end up with everything in my DAWS at the end.

Using Digital Audio Workstations to Play Back Genesis Yamaha Sounds

Check out my Battle Zone Alpha track, which I created with these tools.

VOPM – This is a pretty simple VST that emulates the Genesis’ Yamaha FM chip. You can build your own instruments by fiddling knobs, but if you’re not familiar with FM synthesis, it can be time consuming and difficult. Here’s a tutorial if you want to try it from scratch.



Getting Instrument Sounds from a Game Rom

One thing that I wanted to do right away was pull instruments from existing songs I knew on games I liked, sounds from Sonic and Earthworm Jim came to mind. There are two ways to get these loaded into VOPM.

Using the Gens KM Mod and a Neo Geo tracker called MVSTracker MD, you can dump a Yamaha channel from a running ROM and then load it up into MVSTracker, which has the same exact values and settings as the VOPM VST, then you just put the two side by side and set the VOPM VST settings to match the instrument you pulled from the game. This thread explains how to do it.

Fortunately, some wonderfully generous person took the time to pull all the instrument settings from almost any game you can imagine and put them into a format that VOPM can import. This can save you some serious time!

Download all the VOPM Format Genesis Game Instruments

VOPM runs great in Cubase LE and FL Studio and I’d imagine it’ll work anywhere else you can load a VSTi. This is how I get my bass, pad and lead sounds. It’s not quite as perfect as I’d like, and I still haven’t dipped into automation, note bends and other things, but I imagine that can all be done through MIDI commands with VOPM.


Drum Sounds

I kind of feel like sampling things is cheating, but this is the quickest way to get some Sega Genesis sounding drums going within your DAWS. Just load these samples up into the sampler of your choice and you can get that classic drum sound. There are also tons of vocal samples, orchestral sounds, rock guitar bits and other things that you can use to get that classic sound.

Mixer P and Friends Sega Genesis Drum Samples


Mastering Tracks

One thing you’ll notice right away is that VOPM outputs at rather low volume levels. I bounced each track to a WAV and then loaded them all up into the DAWS and do a little EQ’ing and leveling before proceeding with normal mastering steps. Anyways, you may not be the 16-bit master by the end of this, but you can get some classic sounds without learning a new tracker from scratch. Have fun!


Quick Download Cheat Sheet


BeatScribeFaceBeatscribe is a full time indie composer, musician and writer. By day he creates soundtracks for various mobile gaming companies, by night creates megaman-inspired chiptunes, in the afternoons he drinks tea.  Check out his latest releases, tutorials and retro ruminations at www.beatscribe.com.