Archive for Music

LTTP: Mega Man 9 theme music on ukulele

I am still humming along with ukulele covers of video game theme music. Tonight, for instance, I was trying to remember where my favorite Kid Icarus theme cover had come from. I’d first heard it on Ray Barnholt’s excellent Famicom muxtape, which is now—and for the foreseeable future—nonexistent. Fortunately, one quick, successful google revealed that the musician I was looking for is none other than the Tanguy Ukulele Orchestra.

And while what follows apparently made some web-rounds back in July—I hate it when that happens!—I nonetheless feel vindicated in reposting it, thanks to yesterday’s North American WiiWare launch of Mega Man 9. So! Here is the Mega Man 9 theme music, as lovingly realized by the Tanguy Ukulele Orchestra:

The musician’s entire oeuvre is available for both listening and downloading at the official Tanguy Ukulele website (see below).

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Happy first anniversary to The Hacktory

I’m kind of loving Philadelphia lately. I love Geekadelphia, from whom I have borrowed liberally (shout-out to Eric!). I love the lads at Gamervision. I love the Liberty Bell and all it represents, which is liberty. And then there’s the VGXPO, which is something that is also in Philadelphia.

And now I am completely in love with The Hacktory.

While I was questing through current.com in search of the Gaymers video, I came across “Geeks and Toys Go Wild,” a viewer-created video of a Hacktory-sponsored event. The tiny DIY fest is so rough-around-the-edges and charming, just magical LEDs and chip music and, probably, alcohol. The Hactory video at Current may never make it all the way to TV, so—for now at least—you’ll have to check it out online, either here or embedded here:

I feel like there is this incredible nerd culture in Philadelphia that the rest of humanity doesn’t know about. Specifically, the goings-on at The Hacktory—classes on how to design circuit boards, or events with chiptune musicians dimly lit by demoscene graphics—remind me, bittersweetly, of the art collective gatherings and events that so captured my imagination when I was some college kid having her first brush with adulthood in her first real city. These community events were sincere, earnest, and wholly unmarketable. They were, to quote the Philadelphia Weekly, “Authentic Geek.”

Incidentally, The Hacktory turns one year old this month, hence the illustration of a layer-cake with LEDs that I am ‘borrowing’ from their blog.

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Would you like to play a game?

A little something in my inbox from my friend Dave Gottwald:

So I’m a huge fan of the film WarGames, and they just did a very limited release of the soundtrack for the film’s 25th anniversary this year. The whole disc is filled with great moog-ish synth early 80s stuff.

Attached is the synth-pop track off the album called “Video Fever” about arcade games. Great vocals and keyboards. I thought you would really enjoy.

And Dave’s right: I did really enjoy it, and you might, too.

Midnight PST edit: Thanks to Doctor Popular’s contribution in the comments, we now know that the composer of WarGames was also in a band called The Beepers. “Video Fever” is a Beepers single.

The WarGames OST is limited to only 2500 copies, and it’s priced to move at US$20. You can buy it (and listen to the movie’s theme music!) here.

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“Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is in Another Castle,” by the Mountain Goats and Kaki King

John Darnielle specializes in melancholy, sometimes sparse narrative-songs, so no real surprise there, right? But nothing could have really prepared me for this.

Darnielle, better known as the band The Mountain Goats, collaborated with fellow singer-songwriter Kaki King on the video game -themed single, “Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is in Another Castle.” It’s the final track from Darnielle and King’s upcoming vinyl-only (?!) EP, Black Pear Tree.

Apparently this song debuted on Pitchfork late last week. In the accompanying blurb there, Darnielle explains: “The song is sung from the point of view of Toad.”

Stereogum helpfully posted the dates of Darnielle and King’s “Last Happy Night of Your Life” autumn tour, which includes stops in major metropoleis like SF, Chicago, NYC, Austin, and Brooklyn. Concertgoers will be able to pick up the Darnielle/King EP at the shows.

(Via 61 Frames Per Second)

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“Still Alive” ukulele covers

Scott Sharkey’s favorite kid on YouTube plays ukulele. So does mine. Scott Sharkey’s kid does a cover of “Still Alive.” So does mine.

So of course S.S. and I compared videos.

And we’re in agreement: we have to get these two kids together. If there is a god, these two will meet and fall in love.

And they even both do a twee little thumbs-up at the end of their songs! Which makes me wonder whether the boy had never seen the teenaged girl’s YouTube video—but more likely than that, their love is simply meant to be.

Sept. 13 edit: Regarding the charming thumbs-up punctuating each ukulele performance! One Roo Reynolds captured a still of each thumbs-up, which now lives at his Flickr account here. Aww!

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Can’t tear my eyes away from Mazemod streaming radio station

With the hopefully-temporary dissolution of my beloved Muxtape, I’ve found myself relying on other streaming music sites and services.

But I was completely unprepared for Mazemod.

More like AMAZE mod! Apart from the fact that I had no idea how completely rad Amiga chip music is, look at this website! Let’s face it: this is what William Gibson thought the internet would look like.

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25 fairly important Famicom games. And a muxtape!

A hearty congratulations to Ray Barnholt, who just completed his latest opus, 25 Sorta Significant Famicom Games.

All told, the series took about a month to write—pretty good, considering Ray put it together in his scant free time. I’ve been following his blogs closely.

Midway through, I asked Ray whether he were going to create an index page for the finished product. “Eventually,” he said. And true to his word, here’s the index of all 25 Famicom write-ups.

Splatterhouse Wanpaku Graffiti banner art

“As a final gift for all of you who kept up,” Ray writes at his official personal work blog, “I put up a Muxtape of Famicom remixes and arrangements, picked from my own collection.”

Orchestral arrangements of NES-era compositions get me a little weepy (and electronica covers get me jazzercising!), so if you ask me, Ray’s Muxtape is the best part of the whole deal. My favorite track is the ukulele cover of the Kid Icarus theme.

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KORG DS-10

Apart from Electroplankton and Jam Sessions, what software can DS owners use to compose music?

This week, Ryan O’Donnell and Torrey Walker took a look at KORG DS-10, the first software for the Nintendo DS that makes music composition possible. And it is incredible. Check it out.

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Open Mic Hero

According to Derek Yu over at TIGSource, Alexander Shen’s Open Mic Hero software “is a neat program that lets you play sounds with an XBox 360 Guitar Hero USB guitar (or keyboard, alternatively).” Yu continues, “The program comes with two sound banks, ‘Acoustic Guitar’ (shown in the video) and ‘Drum Kit,’ but you could easily create and load your own sound banks.”

In his demonstration video, Alexander Shen aptly describes the program as “kind of like Jam Sessions, but for your computer, with a Guitar Hero controller.” The demonstration, below:

You know, the beautiful, wireless drum controller for Guitar Hero World Tour will have bluetooth and/or USB connectivity; will it work with Open Mic Hero, as well? Regardless, we can’t wait to see how people hack that.

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BodySurf: an adaptive hack

Speaking of Audiosurf and its adaptability...! Yesterday, Game|Life reported on BodySurf, a script authored by Evan Jones for use with Audiosurf, your computer, GlovePIE software, and both the Wii balance board and remote.

With BodySurf, you control your ship in Audiosurf by shifting your weight from side to side using the Wii balance board. Witness Evan’s demonstration, below.

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Audiosurf: an “adaptive” experience

AudiosurfHere is what makes Audiosurf, for us, so incredible: the software manages to analyze music files and generate ‘playable tablature’ in a way no other rhythm game can even approach. Just as no two iPods are alike, the Audiosurf we play is not the same game that, say, Sharkey plays. (Sharkey—who proselytizes for Audiosurf any chance he can get—plays Audiosurf with a library full of prog-rock, for instance.)

Dylan Fitterer, the one-man team behind Audiosurf, recently spoke at a Valve press event (Audiosurf is now digitally distributed using Valve’s Steam service). Chris Remo of Gamasutra wrote up the best bits of Fitterer’s presentation, and the resulting article is Inside Audiosurf: the Indie Adaptive Steam Music Experience?

Part of Audiosurf’s success was due not just to Fitterer himself having easy access to his customers, but also due to potential customers having open communication between themselves.

The game’s design, he argues, lends itself very much to viral marketing, something Steam facilitates. For example, he saw users linking one another to the Audiosurf Steam page, which contains a convenient purchase link. Some evangelists went as far as purchasing the game for their friends with Steam’s gift function.

On the development side, he implemented a simple feature that encouraged competition between users, as well as providing automatic, but personal, encouragment keep coming back to the game.

“Dethroned” emails are sent to users when they are knocked off a song’s leaderboard, informing them of their defeat.

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2006 Blip Festival

Man, we wish we were in NYC sometimes. For fans of Chip Music and glitch electronica, the 2006 Blip Festival is a must-do. It runs for four days, beginning November 30. And Mark DeNardo—whom we remember fondly from our Chicago days as a tremendous electrofolk talent, a zealous chipmusic teacher, and a nice guy—is one of the featured musicians.

In addition to magical lo-fi music, the Blip Festival will also screen the film 8 Bit.

Blip Festival [via]

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