Artist Decktonic, aka Christian Montoya, hovers over his sound machines, as neon-fantastic as his music sounds. Photo courtesy the artist; (CC-BY-NC) Ben Mason.

Retro-futuristic and Free: All DS-10 Music from Decktonic [Download, Video, CC]

A generation of gaming has done something to our ears. It has primed listeners to appreciate the sound of digital instruments in raw form: dry and immediate, crisply-synchronized machine dance music. So, while I wouldn’t call the music of Decktonic “chip music” or “game music,” somehow it’s a modern take on each. It’s retro-futuristic, electro-techno unadorned with effects. And, hell, while Korg’s DS-10 running on Nintendo DS is far from a high-fidelity sound experience, there’s something irresistibly funky about its sound. Listening to the DS-10 dry in the hands of a creative musician can be a cure for the ear …

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Tokyo Blip: A Chip Music Interlude for Blip Festival

How do you prefer to compose? Pen and manuscript paper? Recording ideas from a piano? Firing up your favorite music software? How about … coding in 65c816 Assembly language? The trio behind this video prefers the latter, more intensive approach, to get close to the chip hardware by communicating directly with the Super NES. It’s one heck of a way to make an invitation to an event, but that’s just what they’ve done, in celebration of Blip Festival Tokyo 2012, in a kind of audiovisual spectacular. With code by Batsly Adams, music by Zabutom, and graphics by KeFF, the result …

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Game Boy Graphics, in Monochrome, Become The Canvas of a Music Video (Get the Tape!)

Play enough Game Boy – as some of you may have done in your childhood (or recently) – and you could start to dream in washed-out grayscale pixels. Artist David Stoll sends a music video that seems to emerge from that dream. David – aka The Beep – tells us this creation is “a demake 8-Bit Game Boy Music Video I’ve made recently and it features 8-Bit interpretations of a MPC 2000 and an SU-10.” Yes, incidentally, a “demake” is a thing. It repurposes the game visuals to produce something that treats the video pixels as a medium. I’ve said …

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A Massive Bundle of Game Music, the Magical Machinarium Score, and the Quiet Indie Music Revolution

As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage. Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores …

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Deeper with DS-10: Using a Nintendo DS Cartridge from Korg, Surprising Live Electronic Music

Music making, child’s play. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Attila Malarik. You might not expect a handheld game console, the gadget kids use to play Pokemon, to prove much worth as a musical instrument. But even in the age of readily-available computer plug-ins and iPhone apps, the DS holds its own. In the hands of two sets of artists, we find music that stands alone, independent of the gimmick of the device on which it was made. For these artists, the limitations of a fold-up touchscreen – entirely independent of doubling as a phone, or a computer, or a Facebook-browsing engine, or a …

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Dot, a Winner-less Video Game, Sports Spare, Lovely Retro Audiovisual Art

At first glance, the visuals seem mysterious and almost intentionally obscure. Then, as you watch the dance of pixellated artwork in “Dot,” you see moments of strange, lonely beauty. Brazilian-based audiovisual artist and regular reader Henrique Roscoe (aka vj 1mpar) writes us to describe his work: This is an audiovisual performance with synchronized sounds and images, played by a ‘game console’ built and programmed by the artist, and controlled by retro videogame (Nintendo) joysticks. The instrument is completely autonomous and works without the need of a computer, using only a projector and sound system to play its content. All images …

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Touch, Plus Tactile: In Gaming as in Research, Physical Controls Augment Touchscreens

The gaming industry has made their bet, and it’s that touchscreens go better with tactile controls. Might digital musicians reach the same conclusion? A funny thing has happened on the way to the touch era. The vision of a device like the iPad is minimalist to the extreme: an uninterrupted, impossibly-slim metal slate, as impenetrable as some sort of found alien scifi object. The notion is that by reducing physical controls, the software itself comes to the fore. It’s beautiful conceptually … and then you find yourself tapping and stroking a piece of undifferentiated glass. For navigating interfaces – and …

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First Hands-on with Nintendo 3DS Suggests it's Beautiful, Hackable, Connected

Hey, remember this guy? It’s the Nintendo DS, and before shiny iPhones and iPads and Androids stole everyone’s heart away, Nintendo’s handhelds first demonstrated the musical, visual appeal of mobile among hackers and artists. Now, the 3DS could well win some of that spotlight back, perhaps surprisingly so. Our friend Dave Dri has gotten a rare hands-on with the new 3DS system. Games? Uh… sure. But with a beautiful, glasses-free 3D screen and lots of geek-friendly features, that might only be the beginning. Dave is already asking some of the questions handheld musicians and visualists might want to know. He …

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First Hands-on with Nintendo 3DS Suggests it’s Beautiful, Hackable, Connected

Hey, remember this guy? It’s the Nintendo DS, and before shiny iPhones and iPads and Androids stole everyone’s heart away, Nintendo’s handhelds first demonstrated the musical, visual appeal of mobile among hackers and artists. Now, the 3DS could well win some of that spotlight back, perhaps surprisingly so. Our friend Dave Dri has gotten a rare hands-on with the new 3DS system. Games? Uh… sure. But with a beautiful, glasses-free 3D screen and lots of geek-friendly features, that might only be the beginning. Dave is already asking some of the questions handheld musicians and visualists might want to know. He …

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Nintendo NES Does MIDI and Live Music, Integrated into Your Studio

Retro chip music appeal and the occasional Super Mario Bros. game aside, you probably think of the Nintendo NES and Famicom system as something collecting dust at garage sales. You probably don’t think of this NES running as a self-contained music production workstation, syncing to MIDI and Android, or exploiting new software for producing elaborate musical sequences, drum and bass lines. Think again. What might to outsiders seem like the nostalgic draw of video music has become something else entirely – the NES is taking its place as a serious, studio synth. Via Keaton Shurilla (Theta_Frost) comes a number of …

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