Atari XL, ST, Amiga, Commador 64 (C64) Chip Music



At A Glance:

Welcome to the new and exciting Chip Music Section! I love computer music. From modern Techno, Trance and Drum & Bass, through to the ancient Commadore, Atari and Amiga soundchips who have sung beautifully since their hay-day in the 80’s. It may surprise people to learn that there is still a big chip music scene, though it is much more underground than it used to be.

What is Chip Music?

Even many enthusiasts will argue over the exact definition… In a nutshell, I would say that chip music is music composed specifically for a particular computer soundchip, using functions on that chip to produce distinctive sounds that are native to the chip itself – without using any pre-recorded samples.

How Do I Download Chip Music?

There are some great archives that have been gradually compiled over the last decade or so, for the Atari XL Pokey soundchip the ASMA archive contains SAP format files (5Mb, 2875 tunes, 29-05-09), for the Commador 64 SID chip, the HVSC archive is what you want (72.5 Mb, 37,033 tunes, 22/08/09), for the Atari ST you want to follow the SNDH archive (22 Mb, 22/05/2009, total 6197 tunes) which contains tons of tunes for the Atari ST’s YM2149 sound chip. For the Amiga you are best either going to the Mod Archive which has a mix of tunes, but many are ones people have contributed over the 1990’s to the present day. For really decent Amiga sounds you need to visit the MOD section of Aminet.

How Do I Play Chip Music in Windows?

It really depends which chip you want to emulate and how you wish to do it. For the C64 Sid chip, I would recommend Sidplay/w, for the Atari XL Pokey chip, the best emulator has to be SAP Player and my all time favourite tracker for Amiga MOD files has to be modplug. The best Atari ST YM2149 chip player I use is called MicroST. DeliPlayer is a good all-round player that will recognise most of these formats, or you can look for good Winamp plugins. (most of these formats can be played from Winamp with the right plugins!)

So Many Chip Tunes, Which Are Best To Listen To?

Everyone’s taste is different. Growing up, some of atari_musicmy favourite Amiga soundchip artists include Daddy Freddy, Doh, Emax (from the early 90’s, all available from the Aminet Archive), then you have the classic computer music from cross-platform composers such as David Whittaker, Adam Gilmore, Rob Hubbard who’s great game music I remember listening to on the Atari XL in the 80’s.

Start with these names if you are unsure, and you won’t go far wrong. Like Marmite, I suppose you either love or hate chip tunes! I will add more to this section in time to help you cut through the crap and find the really awesome bits!

Stay tuned!