Published Tuesday 12. April 2011

I became interested in making music back in the good old days of the Commodore 64 home computer. I listened to the wonderful music of Rob Hubbard, David Whittaker, Ben Daglish, Martin Galway, Fred Gray and all the other musicians who composed for the C64 (I still sometimes find myself whistling the tunes from Spellbound, Master of Magic, Street Surfer, Krakout, Parallax, Shadowfire and other games that I haven't played for at least 20 years).

I wrote my own music software for the C64 and composed some simple tunes myself — these were unfortunately lost when my C64 mysteriously disappeared during a move. Later I got an Amiga 500, and I used several different tools to make music, in particular a program called Oktalyzer which would let you make music in eight voices — instead of only the four voices supported by the sound chip — by mixing the voices two by two in real time.

Then I bought my keyboard, the Roland JW-50, and it took my composing to a new level.

Here are some of my songs, all of them made using the JW-50 (I haven't named most of them yet, even though all of them were made more than 10 years ago):

Now playing: Nothing

Song 1 [play] [download (5.2MB)]

This is probably the song that I consider the closest to being finished. It's not completely there yet; I'd like to tweak a few things and perhaps add a little variation to some of the parts. Also, the JW-50 has a tendency to drop notes when many voices are playing at the same time (it has a maximum of only 24 voices) — and that happened at least once when I recorded this song, but I was too lazy to re-record it. By the way: The first version of the song was made on the Amiga. If I can get my Amiga up and running (yes, I still have it!), and if I can find my old disks, I will try to record the original version of the song and post it here for comparison.

Song 2 [play] [download (5.0MB)]

This song was also initially made on the Amiga, in a much simpler version. It suffers from a severe lack of variation. For example, the bassline is just the same 4 bars repeated over and over throughout the entire song. This is something that I often do; when I add a new part to the song, I just copy the last few bars of the other parts and add the new part on top of those — always with the intention to go back and change things later, but that is just not as interesting as adding new parts.

Song 7 [play] [download (2.8MB)]

I liked the sound of the slap bass on the JW-50. This song grew out of playing around with it. The "variation thing" applies here as well. I always thought this song sounded a bit like a tv sports jingle or something.

Manderley [play] [download (2.2MB)]

When I searched for a good name for this song, the name "Manderley" popped up out of nowhere. I thought: "Manderley, that sounds like a cool name." Only years later did I realize that I had heard the name in the Hitchcock movie "Rebecca", which I had seen a few months before making the song. I can't remember much about the movie, so I don't really know if the name fits the song, but I seem to remember that the ending was sad, which at least fits with the minor key of the song.

Song 1 – Amiga version (Added 23/7/2011) [play] [download (1.3MB)]

This is the Amiga version of Song 1; yes, I managed to get my Amiga to work, and I found the old 3,5" disks including the one that contained "Song 1". It's very strange to hear it again.