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herr_professor on 02/15/2011 at 10:55AM

Freaky Modulations

The YM2612, aka OPN2, is a six-channel sound chip developed by Yamaha. It was most notably used in the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis game console and Fujitsu's FM Towns computer series. As the YM3438, it was used by Sega in various arcade game systems, including the Mega-Play, System 18, and System 32. This is taken from the wikipedia, as you can see the chip is plainly kicking it.

A niche within a niche, FM synthesis has played a huge part in game music, especially those machines that came from japan. Most of these machines were powered by Yamaha sound chips, similar in architecture to the DX-7 synthesizer which ruled the music world in the 80's (Think electric piano ballads and the bassline from Technotronic songs). The main appeal of this chip to developers is the advanced synthesis capabilties versus regular sound chips like Nintendo's 2a03 or even the C64's SID chip.

With power came a price, however, as these sounds were very hard to design. Since the majority of popular music used FM presets for their sounds, the public quickly grew fatigued of these sounds and their use in game consoles waned in favor of sample synthesis. During its golden age, however, FM game sound tracks were arguably the top of their genre and the best soundtracks from games like the Streets of Rage Series and the Sonic series have had a huge influence on the modern FM composers of the onlne Community Soundshock. To this end, they have put together a compilation of the best artists in their commmunity, appropriately titled FM FUNK MADDNESS.

18 tracks reveal a scene that at times is both traditionalist and visionary. Sample some of my favorite tracks below, then give the rest of the compilation a listen, and check us back here in seven for more chip music favorites.




jason on 02/15/11 at 05:07PM
thanks TCTD, for helping me realize that I have a serious soft spot for the era of FM Synthesis game soundtracks...and it lives on thanks to this Ubiktune comp!
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