This Day In History: 02/16
There are no major advances in game music technology on the immediate horizon. Since sound effects stole the spotlight, the major hardware improvements have been to achieve clearer sounds at higher sampling rates, and to standardize three dimensional sound positioning. In an interview with Blizzard composer, Andrea G. Pessino (see link below), he expressed his desire to make game music more interactive, and went on to describe, almost exactly, the imuse system abandoned by LucasArts in the early 90s.
In the meantime, game music is in a "more of the same" valley, where music comes second to flashier graphics and more realistic explosions. One reason for this could be the general decline in popularity of adventure games. This genre was one that really depended on a strong score to complement its slower pacing, where the popular 3D shooters rely mroe on keeping your adrenaline pumping.
When Doom II was released in 1995, I spent hours playing it online with a high school friend over our 14.4K modems. Following the release of several level-editing tools, I created a set of twenty multiplayer levels, all well-balanced for two player games. The editing tools I used had the option to embed original MIDI music in place of the music that came with the game, and allowed me to create my only major entry in game music since the BASIC days (MP3, 2.9MB).
This particular song was modelled after the original Doom soundtrack, and written in eleventh grade, before I was doing all this composing nonsense. The main goal of the tune was to be looping, unobtrusive, and exciting enough to play during a multiplayer game. it's painfully apparent from the Baroque-sounding guitar counterpoint at the end of the loop that I didn't have much experience in rock composing, but I think it came out well nonetheless.
This concludes Game Music Week, the first special feature of the URI! Domain. This summarized look at music history will always be available in the Archive under "Yesterdays' News", and I may turn it into a single-page essay on my Writings page at some point. I hope my recollections brought back old memories or new insights, even if you aren't a fan of video games. As always, feedback is welcomed.
Below are some links that you may find interesting for further reading on the subject.
History of Nintendo
Gamespot's Timeline of Video Game Music
A History of MIDI
mobygames.com: Indexed information on older games
Quest Studios: Reproducers of classic Sierra On-Line game soundtracks
Bard's Library: MIDI files of soundtracks from the Ultima series
Soundtrack from The Longest Journey
Andrea G. Pessino interview on game music and the Sibelius music notation program
Diablo II Soundtrack: MP3s by composer, Matt Uelmen with development notes
LucasArts composer, Michael Land
The Fat Man
I'm taking a break from my Fundamentals work while I brainstorm some solutions to an obstacle, so I dusted off some work I did last summer on a melodic pattern recognizer. The only parts I actually finished were the data structures for intervals and pitches, and enharmonic rules. With this code, the computer can create a variety of scales from any given note and determine enharmonic equivalents to any pitch. I've posted an applet that shows this off for the desperately bored (requires a Java plug-in, like the Monopulator, and will probably be slow to load).
After picking a scale type, you get a list of scales built on each of twelve starting pitches. Clicking on one of those scales brings up two more panels. The left panel shows the computer's thought process for deciding what to call some enharmonic pitch (if it ever saw a Dbb in C Major, it would replace it with a C). The right panel shows how the computer would interpret MIDI pitch numbers, based on the key signature (MIDI pitch #2 could be called Db or C# depending on the key, of course).
It looks pretty underwhelming when you just fiddle around with the applet. The part that's cool (in a geeky way) is that none of it is hard-coded: all the logic is based on an arbitrary set of rules that the computer follows each time it encounters a pitch or interval. So at some rudimentary level, the computer understands the difference and context of a minor third versus an augmented second.
This was as far as I got before the summer ended and I became a musician again.
Bonus points for anyone who can identify the Nintendo theme I remixed today:
Remix (MP3, 1.14MB)
ZIP of Remix Finale File (62 KB)
The VT music server is running pretty slowly today, so be patient.
Tomorrow, I have a company coming out to give an estimate on windows for the new house. I'm going to have to shift my buying paradigm to go from $20 for a movie at Best Buy to $400 for a framed piece of glass that looks like it's not there when it's clean.
Jim Barry says I should start a residency in my basement for starving composers.
I was listening to Maynard Ferguson's Chameleon album last night. The music would sound incredibly good if they would just remove one musician from the band -- Maynard, himself. He brings his band down.
Yesterday's notable search terms:
japanese olio minstrels, hindemith trumpet sonata nazi, fake treasure maps, zeke's newsletter, muomi, single roleplayers, are camels colorblind, chipmunk fun facts
I'm at the stage in my sickness-recovery where I feel fine but my throat is engaged in enharmonic phlegmaticism.
Don't forget to tune into ABC tonight to watch 78 minutes of good TV and 42 minutes of commercials.
Lost Episode 16 "Outlaws" Tonight: Kate and Sawyer divulge dark secrets to each other while tracking a renegade boar that Sawyer swears is purposely harassing him. Meanwhile, Hurley and Sayid worry that Charlie is losing it after his brush with death, and a shocking, prior connection between Sawyer and Jack is revealed.
Alias Episode 7 "Detente" Tonight: While Sydney and Nadia argue about Nadia's acceptance of Sloane's fatherly concerns, Sloane worries about Nadia's well-being when she and Sydney go undercover as wealthy, irresponsible young heiresses to uncover the whereabouts of a deadly chemical.
a doctor-recommended cure for sexually transmitted dizziness
♣ I finally finished cleaning out my file cabinet yesterday after work. I tried out a new system -- instead of carefully and meticulously filing anything and everything I've ever owned, I removed all the bills and receipts older than three years old (The old artwork and drawings I kept for slow days where I can write more in the "What's In My Messy Drawers Day" series). This weekend, I'm going to purchase a little shredder.
♣ I used to just take all my identity-theftable paperwork to the office to shred, but the ten-year-old shredder there can no longer slice up a voided check without a horrible jam which then requires you to squirt oily goop into the blades every five checks. Squeezing giant condiment bottles seems worthless to me unless the end result is a hot dog.
♣ The 250 checks I ordered four years ago have finally run out, which means that I no longer have to cross out my Centreville apartment address anymore. It'd be nice to do away with checks completely, but to me, some bills (like the mortgage) really shouldn't be left to automatic online payments.
♣ A group of multinational Arctic scientists crosses the tundra in search of two missing colleagues, a Czechoslovakian and a Turk. They find two polar bear mates raiding the mens' campsite and shoot them down. After cutting open the female bear and finding the body of the Turk, one scientist says to the other, "The Czech is in the male."
♣ Speaking of mail, I'm expecting a bundle of joy soon. It's not so much a baby as it is an Amazon.com package with two new Cardigans CDs, a single-bound volume containing all fifteen books from the Wizard of Oz series, a Gameboy DS game, am anthology with a new short story by Janny Wurts, and a reprint of Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Egypt Game, a children's book from my past.
♣ I reread Eyes in the Fishbowl by Snyder this week. I first mentioned this book in my Authors of Yesteryear featurette in 2002, and I still gravitate back to it every couple years to see if I can understand it any better. It's a great story, but the ending is either abrupt, just plain confusing, or was translated into Russian and back to English four times by Babelfish. Anna's reading it now to see if I'm just dense, which also gives her a chance to take a break from her insane "I will reread the entire Harry Potter series continuously until the 7th book comes out in July" cycle.
♣ I can't say that I never reread my favourite books, but restarting Book One immediately after finishing Book Six is an exorbitant amount of Harry Potterness. I honestly didn't realize it was possible to love Harry Potter more than Paige, who could easily be a member of the winning team on It's Harry Potter.
♣ I have no big plans this weekend -- I'll probably get a little shopping done on Saturday and then record a series of "Learn Sign Language" books on tape on Sunday. Have a great weekend!Study required to find out why kissing your sister is gross
As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.
I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it's a poorly constructed slum of a song supported by a foundation of droning double stops and abused tubas.
Saturnine: (adj.) Sluggish in temperament; gloomy; taciturn OR Suffering from lead poisoning, as a person.My Composition (0:30 MP3)
This Museday fragment is written for dulcimer, soprano sax, piccolo, horns, and bassoon, and is based on the idea that I, too, would be sluggish in temperament if I had lead poisoning, you know, as a person.
I seem to enjoy modifying the fifths of chords in recent compositions, probably because no one listens to that note anyhow (much like the 3rd trumpet part in marching band arrangements).Give the gift of a discharged firearm this Valentine's Day
in no particular order
Images from our most recent games of Scrabble. We are not proficient at getting seven-letter words.
in haiku form
to meet the newest Ahlbin,
and play some Hearthstone.
Brunch with the parents
at Le Pain Quotidien,
want more breakfast meats.
Took the Yellow Line,
Columbia Heights Metro,
Saw Mike and Annie
eating pancakes at The Coupe
then left before dark.
Mom's roast for dinner,
West side Alexandria.
Donley for Mayor.
Drove home through white-out,
which sounds like a dumb blonde joke,
but is wind and snow.
of a fairly new codebase.
Fried chicken for lunch.
Settlers of Catan
has too many syllables,
unless you're Kathy.
Ate pizza and saw
Guardians of the Galax-
Bored, turned it off.
Working at home for
frigid conditions and for
the dead presidents.
Expecting up to
eight inches of snow tonight.
How was your weekend?
The sequel to Questions Day
"When should I retire?" - Doobie
When the tread on your existing tires is down to 4/32" or less. You can cut it closer in Arizona because of the paucity of snow, unless it's an El Nino year.
"What's the funniest thing you've ever experienced, whether a comedian's joke or just something weird that happened that you found hilarious?" - Mike (and Ghost Chompy)
The funniest thing that has stuck with me through the years would probably be one of these:
There are probably many things far funnier that are just too ephemeral for me to pull out of memory on demand.
"Do you think we (NASA, America, people in general) should work toward sending an actual group of humans to Mars, or just stick to machines and robots? Would YOU go to Mars?" - Mom
We should focus on reprogrammable machines instead of fragile humans. I have no interest in going to Mars myself, unless we can terraform the planet into a nice, tropical climate and get there in under six months.
"Barf-b-cue chips, right? Blergh." - Doobie
Barbeque chips are the worst type of chip in the Lays sampler box and are as bad as any of the themed chips like "Salt n' Vinegar" or "Chicken n' Waffles". I would not be disappointed if they stopped making them completely and made more Sour Cream n' Onion chips instead.
"Is sending a staged photo (that hints at possible pregnancy) to a relative who keeps tapping their foot awaiting the day to hear some kind of news too much for an April Fool's prank? " - Evil Mike
I would say that it's the perfect level of prankiness, although I'd recommend doing it in a slightly more sophisticated way. On April 1, go on Facebook and "Like" dozens of pregancy and baby-related links and groups. Share one of those stupid advertisements that will save you $10 on diapers if only you'll "like and share our company page!". Your relative will see all of these actions in their stalker feed, and immediately get excited without any direct contact from you.
You can also take this to the next level by not responding to anyone's requests for more information on the first day. On day two, "Like" various adoption agencies and then "accidentally" post "how much can i sell a kid for" on your Timeline, followed by the comment, "oops meant to google. how do i erase?".
Maia is 7.36438 months old and 16.4 pounds wide. Mobility-wise, she is on a roll like Evan Jones, but rarely finds the reason or impetus to go anywhere. There's still no crawling or swim-like motions yet but she looks pleased when I make her stand up and lie to her face that she's standing all by herself. She also rolls in her crib, and took her first nap on her stomach on February 1, clearly not familiar with the modern guidelines on how babies should sleep.
Naps in general remain the sticking point in her otherwise pleasant routine. The typical day now looks something like this:
Seven-month-olds are supposed to get 13 - 15 hours of sleep and ours refuses to hit 12 because there's just too much amazing stuff in the world to remain sleeping.
As for interests, right now she enjoys eating solids in her high chair, holding her own bottle, visually tracking the cat around the room, observing the chaos of many people milling about, and kicking mom in the face. She is indifferent to the Winter Olympics, just like me.
As of February 13, I've now lived in this house for 18 years. Happy Housiversary to me!
Here's how it started:
Here's how things looked in 2012:
And here's how things look now, in 2022:
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