how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

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mlynn1974
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how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

Postby mlynn1974 » Thu Sep 08, 2016 11:20 pm

... and why did they sound different?

I'm talking about: David Whittaker (Thundercats), Jas C Brooke (Outrun), Jonathan Dunn (Robocop), Tim Follin (LED Storm) et al.

Now I read that David Whittaker and Jas C Brooke worked in the same office and that Jas wrote the play routines but also did actually compose some tunes. I also read that David was the go to guy for a quick tune.

Tim Follin seemed to be the most consistent with tunes like LED Storm sounding brilliant on both machines.

I guess they would compose the tunes with synths and drum machines, and have predefined sound effects already coded, then put the notation down in some sort of chip-tracker and then their play routine would use the sound chip to play the right notes, adsr waveforms, loops etc. but despite having supposedly the same sound chip (AY-3-8910\YM2149) the Spectrum versions sometimes sounded better (e.g. Thundercats, Outrun, Joe Blade).

In Renegade the music was by Jonathan Dunn on the Speccy and Tim Follin on the ST so why didn't Ocean just save some cash and port Jonathan Dunn's version to the ST like they did with the Gameboy?

In another example, the "percussion" on the ST version of Joe Blade sounds too loud but it was perfect on the Spectrum. The ST version was by Mike Brown but the Speccy version was by Gary Biasillo. I wish Gary Biasillo did more ST Tunes. Target Renegade on the Spectrum was excellent.
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Re: how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

Postby charles » Fri Sep 09, 2016 12:10 am

probally much like the artists ,,,somebody "ripped" them
or wrote a application to convert data to the Atari sound chip

just a sneaky suspicion ,. maybe one can expand on this with a clearer picture

admirered your story nice thread!
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Re: how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

Postby farvardin » Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:57 am

Even if it is the same soundchip, the ST and the Spectrum haven't the same cpu speed (ST is faster), and the cpu logic is different too (z80 / 68000).

Also musicians back then didn't use sound trackers, but they generally directly programmed the chip in assembly. What a tough work!

Maybe developers were more used to the z80 chip of the Spectrum on those old games...

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Re: how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

Postby FedePede04 » Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:19 am

farvardin wrote:Even if it is the same soundchip, the ST and the Spectrum haven't the same cpu speed (ST is faster), and the cpu logic is different too (z80 / 68000).

Also musicians back then didn't use sound trackers, but they generally directly programmed the chip in assembly. What a tough work!

Maybe developers were more used to the z80 chip of the Spectrum on those old games...


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Re: how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

Postby farvardin » Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:05 pm

I've listened to Thundercats, Outrun, Joe Blade, on spectrum and atari st. First, for Thundercats I haven't played the game "back in the time", but I knew very well this music, which was probably used in some demo or cracktro on atari st. I can't say it's less good than the spectrum version, in fact I think I prefer this one (the same for the xenon music, I'm used to the atari st version). Just to know, did you hear thundercat first on Spectrum or on Atari? For Outrun, I can't really tell the difference, I think both are good too. I'd say because the Atari has more power, they probably added more "density" to the music, while the spectrum version is often clearer. For Joe Blade, I think too the spectrum version is more balanced and better in all aspect.

Btw, the Thundercat music was composed by Rob Hubbard, while Outrun was composed by Hiroshi Kawaguchi from Sega (some parts reminds me of Castlevania).

You can also compare between the ST and Amstrad CPC. Xenon on Amstrad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk8yM-dI4cA Not bad but I prefer the atari st version : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoFM66LW-SU which is more punchy. The Spectrum is good too : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_GW85FSbks (but it lacks the crazy high pitched vibrato at the beginning). Yet, the Amstrad CPC could output something more similar to the Atari ST version, someone converted the ST version, register by register, to the Amstrad : http://cpcrulez.fr/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5 (I don't know if you can load the .dsk for running it into an amstrad emulator, maybe you need to be registered on the forum). It sounds very close to the atari version.

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Re: how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

Postby mlynn1974 » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:45 pm

Thanks everyone. Yes I forgot that Thundercats was composed by Rob Hubbard. There was also an excellent conversion by Mad Max as used in the Union Demo. I also forgot that it was Robocop that was converted nicely to the Gameboy, not Renegade.

I read in Retro Gamer that US Gold didn't have an Outrun machine to work with so they had to play one at an arcade or something and take photos and record the audio to help during the conversion process.

I never had an Amstrad myself but I last used the Emulator many years ago in DOS. There were much more games available for the Speccy and that's why I know those games better.

Even if it is the same soundchip, the ST and the Spectrum haven't the same cpu speed (ST is faster), and the cpu logic is different too (z80 / 68000).

+1. That's a very good summary of the problems they faced when converting the play routines I would think.
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Re: how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

Postby Marakatti » Mon Sep 12, 2016 5:32 pm

I remember reading somewhere that YM2149 had double resolution compared to Speccy an CPC soundchips, whatever that means technically... Could that give ST a bit of advantage over the 8bit versions?
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Re: how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

Postby FedePede04 » Tue Sep 13, 2016 8:07 am

Marakatti wrote:I remember reading somewhere that YM2149 had double resolution compared to Speccy an CPC soundchips, whatever that means technically... Could that give ST a bit of advantage over the 8bit versions?


if you manual set the volume the both have a resolutions from 0-15
it is only when using the envelope that it has the double resolutions.

but the envelope of the ay/ym, is only one envelope that can be applied, to a,b,c and it is not real programmable, it have some fast pattens.

so for a YM/AY music program, you need to make your own envelope routine. and then there would be no different between the AY/YM

the only thing that you could use the internal envelope for is the buzzer sound, and i also doubt the are the big sound different between the two.
it also operating at a faster freq, so it could hit a higher freq.

but one thing that i remember was, (i had a MSX (SV-728) before the ST), that i thinked that the output of the ST, was more clear compared the the MSX.
don't know if it was the sound chip, or the output circuit.
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Re: how did composers port tunes from the spectrum?

Postby MiggyMog » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:04 pm

If you ever used Leonard's ST sound program it let you play YM files at the clock frequency used by each machine between spectrum, amstrad CPC or ST. This let you hear how the sound on each were affected. If the tunes were converted without compensating for the different input clock speed then they would sound quite a bit different. The ST version of rococop has a different tune (crap version of the film / arcade music) mad max covered the 8 bit in game music but it was a different arrangement.
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