Projectyle Music

The music was composed using a MIDI keyboard (don’t remember which one, but it was a Yamaha) hooked up to an Atari ST running the Quartet software. The ST version of the game used the standard Quartet player (which tricked the AY sound chip in the ST into playing back 4 channel PCM audio by setting the volume registers very fast in order to generate a waveform). The Quartet player, by virtue of how it worked, introduced an incredible amount of distortion into the music, and the music was composed with this in mind – it was “balanced high”, meaning that for best results you had to crank the volume in order to hear everything. As I’ve always been a fan of distortion, this suited me fine.

Another thing about Quartet is that you are limited to one soundbank (of 16 samples, shared across all tunes). Accordingly, the Projectyle tracks all share the same 16 instruments. That shows here and there, but there was not enough room to fit more.

Because there was no official Quartet player for the Amiga, and, needing to get this music running on the Amiga quickly, I settled down one night with Devpac, a gallon of coffee, and Def Leppard's Hysteria CD on repeat, disassembled the entire Quartet player from the Atari ST into 68000 assembly language, and made an Amiga player that would accept the same (or similar) data files using the Amiga PCM hardware. After an all-night hacking session, the Amiga version of the game was playing all the music by the next morning. There were a couple of problems with this approach, however. First, it turned out that the Amiga, for all of its Paula chip PCM hardware could not playback the same range of frequencies as the software player on the ST – it could not reach the sample rates needed to get the highest notes. This meant that songs had to be edited in order to playback correctly. Second, the Amiga did not distort the sound anything like as much (though I think we were stuck with 8Khz 8bit audio) as the ST, which is detrimental to the sound in many cases – there is a certain “density” that is lacking in the Amiga version. This cleaner sound occasionally reveals tuning problems as the sample rates are pushed to the extremes here and there.

I've recorded these tracks in the Hatari ST emulator running on a decent MacBook Pro.

The Terminators


This track features what was intended to be a thrash metal intro. Not sure I pulled it off. One thing about Quartet is that it did not allow musical triplets, which are essential to get a good guitar solo type effect. I had to make do with quadruplets which are of necessity slower and give a clumsier feel. Thus the intro. The main section of the song has a wild beat which was inspired by a couple of things. First, there was a lot of “house” music coming out at the time - a distinctive backing beat layered with simple melodies. Additionally, there was scratch mixing happening, along with sampling of other tunes. I have the “ah yeah” (which others used in several hits @ the time), and then the section with the fast hi-hat (which was inspired by a Sigue Sigue Sputnik concert I attended where they appeared to play a track at the wrong tempo). Yes, I mentioned Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

I think the intro is kinda weak, but the rest of it, while repetitive, I think is interesting sonically. I always picture oars rowing in a galley when I hear this one.

The main “melody” is riffing on the MIDI keyboard, and underneath it all is the metal guitar and orchestral stabs. You can blame ZZ-Top, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and all the others for that. πŸ™‚

The Eldritch Cats


This track is a tribute to the monotony that was Stock, Aitken & Waterman. It has that “disco” backbeat and repeats on and on. That’s about all there is to say about the track, except that the Amiga version has an extra little flourish that the ST version did not. Bonus.

The Uzteks


This track contains as many layers of guitar as you can fit with 4 channels, leaving room for bass and drums, with a slight concession to melody here and there. It sounded awesome played on the ST and cranked up loud. As it stands, it is not one of my favorites. As are most of these tracks, it is quite repetitive. I have to remind myself that most of my time was supposed to be spent designing and developing the actual game; it is a miracle that I churned out 8 tracks, and I wonder why I thought doing one track per team instead of (say) a “main menu” track, and win/lose tracks made any sense at all!

Sledge Hammers


The name of the team, if not the musical inspiration, came from the TV detective spoof of the same name. This track has a 6/8 beat (blame Status Quo), which of all things meant that I could pull off a triplet effect, which I labor into the ground in the middle. The Quartet player tuning rears its ugly head on the bass section. This was the first piece of music I composed for the game and exists in a couple of other forms. I like the main riff, but I am not sure I pulled it all together here. This one is less repetitive tracks, and I like the bass and drum detail here and there.

Manic Moose


This is one of the more melodic pieces and seems to be one that people like. The main melody is a riff around the various chords of the key of C major, and I think there’s a nod to Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark going on (unintentionally, I am sure). One of the voicings that I like out of the set of 16 is the infinite sustain guitar that is used both as a rhythm and solo instrument. I don’t recall off-hand if that is a standard Quartet sound, or if I sampled my guitar (which I did for other games), but it ranges from sweet here (the second run through the melody refrain) to raucous elsewhere. There’s a switch in the middle of this that is somewhat reminiscent of the Electric Light Orchestra, and once again the quads-rather-than-triplets rear their heads (I don’t like the effect).

Vectors


This one has a punchy enough beat, a nod to Star Wars somewhere in there, and Steve On The Keyboard [tm] jamming not quite randomly. There’s an interesting “play orchestral stabs with keyboard vs guitar stab” section in there. That’s about all I can say about this, except that there was a much, much better version of this that I’d previously done with Soundtracker for a local Liverpool memory expansion company, the so-called MES Demo part 1. That version was resplendent with samples, snippets of TV show themes (Neighbors, Eastenders), and more. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of that version anymore. πŸ™

Jovian Jello Juggernauts


I think this one is utterly horrible, and I am only putting it up here by way of penance. πŸ™‚

Devils


This one has more of a standard song arrangement to it, and that is because the track originates in a song I wrote in my garage band days. I hate to say it, but that song was inspired by Twisted Sister. The “solo” bit which is where you might expect a chorus to be is wild, with some questionable musical tonality. Not my least favorite.

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