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Bits and PiecesA History of Chiptunes$
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Kenneth B. McAlpine

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190496098

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190496098.001.0001

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The Ultimate Soundtracker?

The Ultimate Soundtracker?

(p.125) 5 The Ultimate Soundtracker?
Bits and Pieces

Kenneth B. McAlpine

Oxford University Press

In the early days of home computing, writing music was as much a technical as a creative process. This chapter explores how the launch of a software music package, Ultimate Soundtracker, for Commodore’s Amiga created a new, symbolic way to compose and edit music. It was sample-based and structured music using a grid-style interface that could be navigated using the computer keyboard, and its music files distributed both, making it easy to share—and copy—others’ musical ideas. This ‘open-source’ approach allowed nonprogrammers and nonmusicians to experiment with music making and for the sound to promulgate. This was also the period from which the term ‘chiptune’ emerged; the Amiga’s sample-based chipset allowed it to create other sounds beside raw electronic waveforms, and chiptune was used to highlight tracks written in the 8-bit sound chip style.

Keywords:   Commodore Amiga, soundtracker, MOD file, composition, Sound SAMPLE, Fairlight CMI, MIDI sequencer, procedural music

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