ProjectXG Revisitied

[This is a post I made to AmiBay back in 2011.  The domain on which I hosted the images and audio snippets is about to expire, so I’ve rescued the files and moved them here – so I may as well archive the post itself too, while I’m at it!]

Anyone remember CU Amiga Magazine’s ProjectXG feature many years ago? They published a parts list and instructions in the magazine for interfacing a Yamaha DB50XG WaveBlaster MIDI daughterboard, intended for use with a PC soundcard, to an Amiga.

Continue reading

Obscure obsolete media du jour

Having found that clip of the Pat Metheny Group on YouTube a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to get hold of the DVD from which it was ripped. Unfortunately it seems to be really hard to track down – I can find it easily enough on VHS, and also on Laserdisc, but not on DVD. So I acquired it by… ahem… “other means”. Since I’ve never actually handled a Laserdisc, though, I couldn’t resist the urge to buy a copy from a Stateside seller on EBay.

It arrived yesterday.


It was wrapped in newspaper, and I can honestly say this is a headline I never thought I’d see:


More Follin Fandom

It doesn’t seem to matter which platform’s sound chip Tim Follin composed for, he always seemed to find some way of squeezing more out of it than anyone previously thought possible. Here are just a few examples, found on YouTube…
Continue reading

Something Completely Different

This isn’t remotely tech-related, but it’s definitely Retro.  I found this on YouTube recently and have to say I love it!

Quite apart from the musicianship, look out for Pat Metheny displaying his usual facial contortions, and Lyle Mays looking for all the world like the carny from Despicable Me!

Sadly the DVD this was ripped from (More Travels) isn’t easy to get hold of now.

ProjectXG Redux

Anyone remember CU Amiga Magazine’s “ProjectXG”?  This was a DIY project they ran, based on a hack that was published on Aminet, to interface a Waveblaster MIDI daughterboard to the Amiga’s serial port, to provide a pretty good quality MIDI tone module.

The daughterboard most commonly used for this project was Yamaha’s DB50XG, though any card which attached to a “Waveblaster” header could be used.  (Googling Waveblaster now, however, will find you a Yamaha product of quite a different nature.)

The DB50XG’s successor, the DB60XG was manufactured under license by NEC as the XR385, and this seems to be the easiest such card to find these days.  It’s very similar to the DB50XG, it just has some very subtly different voicing, and can apply its DSP effects to incoming audio as well as its own sounds.

Having built a ProjectXG many years ago, then selling it a year or so back and promptly building another one, I naturally wanted to interface a Waveblaster card to one of my Minimig variants, and listen to some old MIDI files again.
Continue reading

References in videogame music

My post about the Agent X II theme reminded me of something else that’s interested me for a while. The music in computer games back in the 80s and 90s clearly contained some major pop culture influences, but I wonder how often it was completely subconscious, and how often the composer set out to copy the feel (or even the notes!) of an existing piece of music? We had a much more relaxed attitude to copyright back then!

Anyhow, the influences ranged from the utterly blatant:


Or the stunning (for 1990) game over music from Shadow of the Beast II on the Amiga, and a piece of incidental music from Miami Vice:

But sometimes it was a little more subtle.
Take for example, Rob Hubbard’s C64 music for One Man and His Droid: Listen to the section 3:05 into this:

and compare with the passage 2 minutes 40 seconds into this:

Of course, sometimes it works in the opposite direction!

So how many more examples are there?

An old favourite

After such a dry, technical post, here’s something a bit lighter: more videogame music from my childhood!

This was Tim Follin’s masterpiece from the Commodore 64 version of Agent X II. I’ve always loved the eccentric rhythms in this. (Also, listen out for a reference – perhaps accidental? – to Rutter’s ‘Shepherd’s Pipe Carol’ towards the end.)

An arcade classic revisited…

If like me you grew up in awe of the high-end Sega arcade machines with their moving cabinets – Space Harrier, Outrun, Afterburner and Galaxy Force – then you no doubt have fond memories of the music from these games.
I just stumbled across this excellent remix of one of the most memorable tunes from Afterburner II – hope you enjoy it as much as I did: