Commodore 64 Music in the real world & other related SID stories

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Beatles in the Commodore64

by Jeff from cacophony and coffee

I had a few SID tunes that were Beatles covers and researched them to death... Only to stumble upon Merman/Ozone's demo site. See, the beauty of an old system like Commodore 64 is the "ease" with which one can create their own games or music, often called 'demos.' I used to create little text-based games for my Commodore by copying in the Basic code from my monthly 3-2-1 Contact Magazine. But in the hands of a true musician/composer, the SID chip can astound you. Merman takes on the daunting task of recomposing some of the Beatles later work on his The Beatles Anthology v.II. I'm sorry to give you so many songs, but it was hard enough narrowing it down to these four.

One of my favorite things about chip music, SID tunes in particular, is the limitations of the technology. Like The Beatles were able to produce Sgt. Pepper... with 'simply' a four-track, SID composers face the challenge of composing using only three-voices. Breaking a song down into elemental units, down to the necessties, often allows the listener the ability to realize how truly intricate these compositions are.

Generally, Merman attempts to remain true to the original tunes note-for-note; it's the medium that's important. But his sped-up rendering of "Happiness is a Warm Gun," is my latest jam. I love it when those drums kick in. Of course, that's probably my gun-to-my-head favorite Beatles song... so it doesn't hurt to start with something I already love. (Though that could be dangerous too, as in his rendition of "Flying.")

And imagine trying to recreate the studio magic of "I Am the Walrus," yet somehow his SID version captures the spirit of the original in a completely new context.

Merman (Andrew Fisher) also has some Spice Girls and Blur demos and some Mr. Men and Pokemon slideshows for your C64 emulator. If you'd like to check them out...just follow the link below.

I've also posted "When I'm C64," by my entree into the remix/home-electronica forum, I Feel So Pixelated. I'm pretty sure the lyrics were inspired by Jan Lund Thomsen's podcast, The C64 Take-Away, but I could have totally dreamt that up too. I had a 30-second sample of "When I'm 64" and wanted to add something to it... so I added a drum track, bass line and some vocals. It may possibly be the geekiest thing I've ever done. (Even topping the Patrik Remix by A.M.)

Merman/Ozone - With a Little Help from my Friends

Merman/Ozone - I Am the Walrus
Merman/Ozone - The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
Merman/Ozone - Happiness is a Warm Gun
I Feel So Pixelated - When I'm C64

Download more from Merman


And to finish this up we thought we should add something to the post, so we selected a great tribute to the beatles "The Yellow Submarine" from PADUA .....sing along in this karaoke like demo..... "We all live in the sixty four scene...."

Splish Splash by Padua


oh... and what about Beatle Quest ??? ever heard of that ??? probably not....

It's an adventure game that is based on the Beatles music ...Watch out for Maxwell's silver hammer, visit Dr. Robert's surgery, and don't crack the glass-bottomed boat. Try typing in HELP ... and guess what it says! Some clues to the game may be in the lyrics of the Beatles' music. The parser in this game isn't too good. If you're having trouble entering doors, type "GO IN". If anyone can complete this game, please let me know! I've yet to find the glass onion, Mr. Kite, blue meanies, or the yellow submarine......

Beatle Quest... thanks to weird games...

alright.. enough is enough.


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