“Chiptune” is music that which is created by manipulating or emulating the sound chips of retro computers and video game consoles.
There exists a global community working within or adjacent to the strict limitations of these old consoles to create new works of art, in the studio and on the stage. To learn for yourself the unique satisfaction of making music using obsolete video game hardware is to understand what it means to create more with less.
Would you like to know more?
LSDJ (Little Sound DJ) is software designed for writing music directly on your Nintendo GameBoy. It is an all-in-one sequencer, sampler, and synthesizer in the palm of your hand that makes full use of the 4 available sound channels.
Famitracker is an application for creating NES chipmusic on your Windows PC. It is designed for the 2A03 NES soundchip as well as VRC6 and other expansions, and allows exporting of songs in .NSF format for playback on a real NES console.
Deflemask is a multi-chip tracker for creating authentic chiptune on your computer or mobile device. It includes the Sega Genesis, Master System, Commodore 64, Arcade sound chips and more. Also exports data files for hardware playback.
These and many other programs for various systems are freely available to download and use, most include ongoing support from the developers, and an active userbase eager to share knowledge and learn from one another.
Resources to aid you on your Chiptune voyage
- LSDJ: Little Sound DJGameBoy Music TrackerDiscover
- FamitrackerNES Music TrackerDiscover
- DeflemaskMulti-chip system trackerDiscover
- 0cc-FamitrackerFamitracker extension with additional featuresDiscover
- MilkyTrackerPortable cross-platform sample-based .XM music trackerDiscover
- Audio OverloadAudio emulator for VGM data formatsDiscover
- AudacityFreeware audio editor. Deceptively usefulDiscover
- Chipmusic forumsMusic sharing and discussion forumDiscover
- ChipflipGreat blog run by legendary C64 musician GOTO80Discover
- TCTDTrue Chip Til Death blog. RIPDiscover
- MicromusicMusic community in operation for almost 20 yearsDiscover
- NESdevNES development communityDiscover
- Zophar’s DomainIncredible music and retro game resource, info, linksDiscover
- LSDJ Tutorial by SabrepulseA classic written tutorial, still holds upDiscover
Game Soundtracks And Raw Files
- SNES.SPC file archiveDiscover
- SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive.VGZ file archiveDiscover
- Commodore 64: High Voltage SID Collection.SID file archiveDiscover
- AMP: Amiga Music PreservationComprehensive database of Amiga music and musiciansDiscover
- Video Game Music Preservation FoundationWiki-style encyclopedia for all things VGMDiscover
- Mod ArchiveMusic module repositoryDiscover