Michael Philip Bridgewater (Newcastle University)
Keeping Up with the Commodore: SID Music in the Demoscene and Contemporary Commodore 64 Game Development
The Commodore 64 home computer, originally released in 1982, is well-known for its powerful and versatile sound chip, the SID (Sound Interface Device). The sound of the SID, with its range of waveform types, filtering capabilities, ring modulation function, and hard sync function, facilitated a remarkable degree of artistry on otherwise unexceptional games for the platform, and made 8-bit legends out of composers like Rob Hubbard.
As a steady stream of software was released for the Commodore 64 throughout the 1980s, groups of pirates known as crackers competed to be the first to remove the copy protections of new titles and distribute their own versions that included intro screens featuring their logos and coded effects while playing SID tunes ripped from previously-released games. Over time, these intros evolved into standalone creative productions known as demo, combining complex effects and striking graphics with original SID tunes by the cracking groups’ music specialists.
Although the Commodore 64’s commercial life expired in the early 1990s, the demoscene built around it continues to thrive, and many coders, artists, and musicians who make demos for the platform are now also using their skills to develop new games. My presentation will explore how this development constitutes a coexistence of ‘technostalgia’ with contemporary creative sensibilities, with a focus on the practice of SID music composition.
Source: Bardic Knowledge