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Theme from rt2i (15 Aug 2008 at 00:45)
I created music.

Theme from rt2i single cover


Here's a new Tom 7 Entertainment System song I just finished, called "Theme from rt2i". I've written a lot of T7ES songs of course, but this one differs in the following ways:

I wrote it over the course of several evenings. I almost never spend more than a continuous stretch of an hour or two on one song, especially not these piano roll ditties. This one took many hours. I made myself continue. It's not my favorite way to make music, because I inevitably end up getting sick of the song in the process of working on it—which I think can't help but manifest itself in the music—but sometimes it's still a good idea.
I concentrated more than usual on texture, almost sacrificing melody at its expense. You can see from the screenshot that there is a craplot of stuff going on. IMO the best compromise of texture and tune I ever got was with Theme from jlw, but this one has more complexity with layers of phase-interfering square waves and noise-shaped drums, etc.
It's over five minutes long! Maybe that's not weird for most music, but the vast majority of T7ES songs comprise a single idea in the 0:30–1:30 range. If you graph the length of the most recent T7ES tunes, being Theme from The Goog at 2:41, Conditional Independence Day at 3:21, and this rt2i at 5:25, it suggests a kind of disturbing trend. It's true that the song repeats once (important to demonstrate its incessancy and therefore qualify it as video game music), but that is weirdly long for me. I really like best the idea of short songs, but it is also an interesting challenge to try to make several ideas work in the same song, and to exercise some kind of compositional pace.
I learned some new tricks. One is the truncated measure. You can hear this at the very beginning of the song: It's like, surprise! I do this three times in the loop, where I suggest continuance but then abruptly change to some other big noise. Another trick: I copy a few lines from various places in the song into other parts even if the character is different, then manipulate them to make them fit. This is a good way to make the song feel like a single song, especially if there are abrupt surprise changes. Other trick: There's a natural tendency for really thick shit to just keep getting thicker; the only cure for this really is an abrupt sucking emptiness, where the raw lack of notes creates itself a kind of intensity.


Only time will tell what I really think, but for the time being I'm pretty happy with it. Times span 4/4, 25/4 10/4, and 15/4. Of course I know that 25/4 isn't really 25/4 in the music sense; that's just the macro-level periodicity. That phrase is really something like 4/4 4/4 4/4 3/4 6/4 4/4.

PS. My toenail finally fell off. Gross.
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Tadbot (c-76-98-20-178.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 08.15.08 03:50:59
OMG your link to the file is misnamed, so I had to do some 1337 hax0ring to download it.
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Tom 7 (h-67-100-131-229.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 08.15.08 08:59:43
Hacking my server?? I'm sending the cybercrime task force after you.

Usually I test this stuff after posting, sorry. I blame lack of sleep. It's fixed now, though my current QuickTime browser plugin installation plays for me only 1 second of the song if I just click? The song downloads and plays fine in iTunes or winamp or whatever, though. (I think this might be a misconfiguration of my web server. I'll look later.)
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Chris (c-76-99-55-118.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 08.15.08 09:02:36
I like it. I imagine it as the ending theme to some cheesy NES RPG, playing over a montage of your 8-bit characters visiting key points.

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Tom 7 (mobile-032-145-129-014.mycingular.net) – 08.15.08 09:15:17
Crap, there's also a real prominent pop at about 3:17. Grr. I'll fix tonight.
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Tom 7 (pokemon.wv.cc.cmu.edu) – 08.15.08 09:34:39
thanks Chris! Yes, this is definitely an RPG tune, huh...
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Chris (seasnet-38-086.seas.upenn.edu) – 08.15.08 13:42:07
Out of curiosity, what software do you use to write the t7es stuff?
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Tom 7 (mobile-032-145-137-232.mycingular.net) – 08.15.08 19:00:31
Various versions of Cakewalk, which is now called Sonar. For sound, the Roland SC-880. For a long time I've been flirting with the idea of writing my own sequencer, though. I doubt I'll get to it this summer, but maybe Q4...
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Mike Kenny (146-115-26-58.c3-0.abr-ubr1.sbo-abr.ma.cable.rcn.com) – 08.15.08 20:05:49
interesting post. hadn't thought of a melody/texture trade off, but that does makes sense!
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Tom 7 (h-67-100-131-229.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 08.15.08 21:41:13
I fixed my stupid pop noise in a new upload. Please, defunctinate the old file.
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Adhesion (92.50.74.144) – 08.16.08 18:04:39
Still solidly on the road towards prog-chip-epics, I see. This song is pretty sweet. It definitely feels a bit different than most other T7ES songs, with a lot of them seeming to frantically rush through melodic material (but usually in a good way). This is a lot more chill, and the texture focus and slower pace seem to mask the time signature foolery, at least on the first couple listens.
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Tom 7 (h-67-100-132-74.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 08.17.08 01:09:05
A: I basically agree with your assessment. Just wait for the prog-chip epic. It is inevitable. Will I be the first??
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Tom 7 (h-69-3-248-146.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 08.17.08 10:51:42
Although actually I think the real reason that the timesig foolery is not so jarring is that the song is really in fairly easy time signatures like 4/4 and 3/4, just grouped strangely. (For various reasons it is convenient to make the time signature in Cakewalk such that repeatable units don't switch back and forth. Better support for weird timing is a major reason for wanting to write my own sequencer.) Definitely different from something like Sensations or Goog, where the particles are not easily divisible.
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