Retrospective: Traverse #2 (Outer Rim)

Here is a mixdown of this traverse. Which is called “Outer Rim”. Have a listen! ๐Ÿ™‚

Artifacts

Outer Rim
A pixelated planet in dark space with two moons in orbit
Single cover for Outer Rim

Assumptions

During this traverse I assumed that because of the density of my commisions, I would not be able to put more than 5 hours in total on this process. It turned out to be a relatively close estimation on how much time I ended up spending on the production for Outer Rim.

I did one hour of research on how music was created in the Snes and found this amazing article which goes into the very interesting details that the limitations for the Snes (for instance, it turns out the Nintendo Snes and the Game Boy Advanced had very similar technical limitations which I found very fascinating. So basically the GBA is a portable Snes haha). Specifically the total amount of voices and memory that was dedicated for music and audio in general during playback. The Snes solved this by allowing for a total of 8 different voices that could be programmed, often dedicating two voices for SFX and the remaining six to musical instruments.

The instruments were also very short samples of waveforms which were limited for a maximum of almost one second of information, which doesn’t really allow for lush strings since they need to last longer. They solved it by looping the end of the waveform so that the sample could be used in an ADSR-function. This together with the limited bandwidth because of the systems bit-rate created the jagged yet smooth polyphonic sound that the Snes was able to produce.

Enough nerding out haha, get reading in on it! It’s super fascinating.

One final assumption that I want to mention is that I thought it would be a lot more tricky to create the right kind of sound. But with the help of the free VST-plugin C700 by picopicose.com and a very friendly 16-bit tracker forum I was able to focus instead on the composition to be right instead of spending time on tweaking the sound.

In the end I spent a total of six hours on Outer Rim so it was very much helpful!

What went well?

I really enjoy this type of sound! It feels great to know that it’s quite simple to produce when having access to the resources in the right places. I was able to produce all sounds using the C700, and I must say I almost enjoy the SFX the most in this one. That rocket rumble in the beginning and the middle of the track sounds genuinely real.

I especially love the “Interstellar” feel I managed to capture in the first movement, with the chugging arpeggio. To get that sound I used a technique called tintinnabuli which was created by minimalist composer Arvo Pรคrt, which plays around with the idea that each note played is related back to the tonic triad in some way. This system works really well for creating a feeling of elevated experience when applied correctly, and I think I did it justice here.

What can be improved?

The main thing I would love to improve on is to record and create the samples myself. I think it sounds like a fun challenge to dive into. It would be especially interesting to work within the limitations that programmers had to work with using that machine. If you are interested in doing that I recommend looking into this tracker that actually limits the amount of data that you program in so that you can’t overdraw the memory ๐Ÿ˜‰

I would also loooove to have more time for my studies. But my customers comes first ๐Ÿ™‚

PS

All my traverses will be found at Bandcamp and eventually on my Spotify profile. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Go check them out!

I also record retrospectives and material to my Youtube-channel, so go visit this link if you want to subscribe to get the latest stuff! ๐Ÿ™‚