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An Introduction To Chiptune

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Nerd influenced music has seen a substantial rise in popularity over the past decade, mostly due to the ever expanding community surrounding it. Nerdcore hip-hop has dominated for years as the most well-known of the “nerd genres”, but in recent years the focus has started to shift to a new genre of music, which is largely homemade. Chiptune music is the art of taking beeps and clicks from various retro gaming systems (such as the Atari 2600, NES, Gameboy, etc.), and manipulating the sound output methods to create music. Utilizing such familiar sounds often leads people who are not overly familiar with video game music to think they’re hearing classic old school game soundtracks, but to the trained ear it is obvious that the compositions are entirely new. Having been featured in games such as Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Chiptune has been brought to many people's awareness, though most of them still don't know it by name.

Having a large community of artists that operate by allowing their generated content to be distributed digitally through web forums, such as the 8 bit community (www.8bc.org), has been in the favor of many Chiptune artists. Anyone with the knowhow can really get into the genre and make a name for themselves, although the money isn’t really there yet. Chiptune has become a genre which is now being recognized as a real form of music, rather than being only a series of bleeps from old video games which people brush off as noise. Only few acts have made a real name for themselves, but among the top are artists such as Anamanaguchi, Bit Shifter, and Trash80, who have all released albums through digital sales, and even done multiple shows across North America. Anamanaguchi has even received international fame, partially due to their success with the Scott Pilgrim game soundtrack. Though Chiptune has its purists, Anamanaguchi is slightly different: they are a band which backs up their Chiptunes using real instruments. Making a rock hybrid with Chiptune seems to have paid off fairly well for them, and there are a few other groups who have been able to attain the same success using an instrumental format.

Chiptune has expanded outside of normal music boundaries, offering up countless options from rock music to electro/ techno style Chiptunes; it's recently even been used in various Nerdcore Hip Hop tracks. The genre's potential is seemingly endless, especially considering the huge interest that it can invoke in people, most likely due to the nostalgia inherent in the sounds making up Chiptunes. Though it is still in its infancy, the movement has definitely gained some steam, and is currently on a steady roll. With a hardcore fan base of gamers and the potential to attract others to its sound, Chiptune may possibly live on for a good while… at the very least, until Chiptune artists' retro consoles die. This is definitely one musical revolution to keep your eye on; check it out and give it a listen!

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