The Delicious Artist’s Statement
You are playing an NES game with a friend or family member. In this game, the item shops are themed as candy stores, and you are “Shopping for Candy”.
That’s right! DJ Tent Mode’s Delicious new track drops today! (I really need to pick a better name to release my music projects under.)
You can download an MP3 of “Shopping for Candy” here.
You can download an NSF of “Shopping for Candy” here. The NSF is a ROM that will execute on NES hardware, in an NES emulator, or in an NES music player. I like to use GaMBi on my phone.
This Month’s Song Process
This is probably the biggest song I’ve written from a number of distinct measures standpoint. I’m the least confident about the bridge. It’s the part of the song I spent the most time working on. The song needed some more breathing room before it looped, and I’m worried it seems like it’s from a different song entirely, but no art is perfect.
Here’s a screenshot of the final tracker structure.
The Delicious Prompt
For the mood of the song, I wanted something in a major key that sounded bubble-gummy and poppy. I have noticed I struggle writing in major keys so I took it as a challenge from the prompt. I’m quite happy with the final mood of the song.
The Delicious Process
Also, as an amateur music theorist, I don’t do a lot of transposition or intervals in my head so I ended up writing the initial few measures in C, and then hit the F2 5 times to just transpose the whole thing up 5 semitones into F. I’m a real music pro! I did this just because F is higher in pitch and the NES instruments sound more whistley and “fun” than they do in C in this context.
As far as composition process went, channel 2’s 8th-note shuffle (kinda sounds like an oboe) came together in minutes. It’s something I learned from Gruber (whom I mentioned in the March post) where you can make a quick rhythm built with scale patterns and then vary it to make it distinct. I really like this process. It works well for what I want to do and what I find pleasing to listen to. This month’s was built with arpeggios which go up twice, then go down twice. However, you may not notice this because I drop a few notes down an octave to syncopate and accent the notes. It makes it much more interesting to hear and gives structure to the song. You can also do this with different instrument voices to make accents rather than just changing volume.
Next I did the long glissandos. I got to learn how to do that effect this month. I wanted it to sound like a stretchy chewy bubble-gum taffy kind of thing. I’m happy with how the pickup notes connect the phrases.
Another technical note: the way DefleMask does timing is as a function of CPU divisions. So you can see in my screenshot that I’m in a multiple of NTSC timing and that the “A” speed lasts twice as long as the “B” speed. This lets you write music where your 8th notes can “swing” in jazz tradition without having to notate every single 8th-note pair as a dotted-8th/16th pair (like you do in beginning jazz band). This is something that I adjusted by ear until the swing sounded right.
This month, I also learned a few quirks about how DefleMask handles duty cycle macros. I suspect there is a bug that carries over an effect change from channel 1 into channel 2 and overrides the per-instrument setting. I ended up having to “hard code” the duty cycle (basically you get three distinct timbres for the square channels) at the beginning of each new pattern instead of having the instrument definition work. I learned about this because I happened to turn on the per-channel oscilloscope view because my son thinks it’s cool. And I happened to notice that the waveform in channel 2 looks the same as channel 1 which was not as intended.
Remember - even though I tease myself about this in this very post: if you try to make art, then you’re an artist.
Thanks again for listening (and I’m sure the interesting discussion to follow) and thanks again for organizing @穴 .