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Open-Source MP3 Construction Kit

The idea of community is a thread that runs through Lawrence Lessig’s book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, which I’m in the process of discussing as part of a group at the “Mind the Gap” blog at ArtsJournal.com.

As of this writing, my most recent post (artsjournal.com/gap) is partially concerned with what Bach, Bartók, and Tallis would do with the technology — software and hardware — that we take for granted today. In Remix, Lessig singles out, as examples of “community,” various open-source software projects, sometimes known as “freeware,” and there are many such examples in the world of electronic music.

I’m using each daily Downstream entry this week as an opportunity to touch on a different aspect of Remix. Today’s is a netlabel (also a subject on Monday) dedicated to a particular piece of freeware:

The latest track from the Hexawe netlabel (at hexawe.net) has a messy, grab-bag, hodgepodge feel that so much vibrant, seat-of-your-pants, web-based electro-pop revels in. It’s equal parts bad Russian disco (is there any other kind?), video-game score, pachinko madness, regional-TV-advert jingle, culture jamming, and overall syncretic joyride (MP3). Titled “Thank You Mr. Clap” and credited to Frostedtreeandsnowyfloor, the track was made on a piece of freeware called LittleGPTracker (littlegptracker.com), which is related to a bit of music-making freeware developed for the Gameboy (activity not condoned by Gameboy manufacturer Nintendo, and a strong example of the unintended aftermarket garage ingenuity brought to bear on common household goods).

[audio:http://www.hexawe.net/hex0026_thx_u_mr_clap_rmx_by_TWR.mp3|titles=”Thank You Mr. Clap”|artists=Frostedtreeandsnowyfloor]

As I’ve mentioned in coverage of Hexawe in the past, part of what makes releases on the netlabel special is that along with each MP3 comes the code and samples that made the related song possible, so you can also listen to the 28 parts that make up “Thank You Mr. Clap,” and, if you’re up for it, install the software and drop in your own replacement tracks.

More on the musician at 8bitcollective.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , , , , , / Comments: 3 ]

3 Comments

  1. FTASF
    [ Posted June 14, 2014, at 7:24 am ]

    Hello, if there is still someone in there, this is Frostedtreeandsnowyfloor.

    I’ve been looking for the remains of the tracks I put once on the interwebz, and this one (Thank you Mr. Clap) is the only valid link. Actually since 8bitcollective was shut down, nearly every track I composed disappeared except for a couple in the 18GB torrent “Best of 8bitcollective”.

    Actually this track was originally my composition, but the version shown here is a remix by “The Wizard Rises”. The original wasn’t released on Hexawe, as I did not feel like it then, and accepted TWR to make this remix. The original one is maybe even cheesier.

    If I can correct something, this track was made on LGPT, but this is not a GameBoy program, but a GP32 program, a Linux based emulation console, and LGPT can be run on a PC, and on a custom firmware PSP. It is true that it is linked to the GameBoy scene, as LGPT, is inspired by LSDJ (a GB tracking program), but when LSDJ does synthesis with the GameBoy chip, LGPT uses samples, and the sound is drastically different, as the communities are. Some of the chiptuners, some years ago, did both – I myself came from GameBoy to LGPT sample tracking, and I still use both today- but most of the time they chose their side. GB, LGPT, Amiga, Atari ST, or PC generated chiptunes (usually on Fruity Loops and Renoise), we (on 8bc) had (it seems) prefered techniques, and some of us used a wider range of techniques (I used for instance LSDJ, LGPT, but also TFM tracker that emulates Master System and Mega Drive FM synthesis), or Open Modplug Tracker (also base on samples but not as compact as LGPT).

    Thank you for this review on Freeware composing, you can’t even imagine how much I miss the 8bitcollective days, and its daily dose of chiptunes. Some of them were really impressive high quality music. Due to a data loss, I lost most of the music I downloaded there, as well as a place that suits my music. Maybe someday I will re-upload them somewhere, but it will not be the same as this community, with its own codes, renown musicians, partly ultra-nerdy and partly 2nd degree dialog between real chiptuners that refused the trendy appropriation by major labels of the “chipster” sound. Nothing can be compared today (except maybe chip music forums) to the experience of 8bitcollective, which was both underground and accessible. Hexawe for example still exists but its community is I think a bit more private and closed.

    A shame that I only read your article 5 years later and now that a major part of chiptune music has been shut down, its people disseminated around the web.

    Greetings!

    • Marc Weidenbaum
      [ Posted June 14, 2014, at 8:21 am ]

      Thanks so much for the background. Is there a place you’re currently posting your music?

      • FTASF
        [ Posted June 15, 2014, at 8:14 am ]

        Not for the moment, sadly, but I hope to do so in a near future for chiptunes but also other projects I made in these recent years :) . I just need to find the time for this and as I can’t live from my music, I have often to postpone this task, but it is something I intend to do!

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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