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[VGM Pack] Spirou (GG)
Post Posted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:31 pm
Last edited by sherpa on Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
http://www.smspower.org/Music/Spirou-GG

Pack made by request.

I have yet to figure out the music engine for this game, but it seems to be somewhat similar to other games by the author. (Smurfs/Tintin)

Tracks come courtesy of a music rom provided by Jacko. Everything logged using save states and ram manipulation. The music likely matches that found in the game. Another rom supplied alongside it (Tintin) revealed an unused song in that game, which is also accessible in the original game. The composer claims that he never entered the infogrames office, but that he would send the music. It seems that Alberto Jose Gonzalez is another composer where the song use is chosen by the programmer and sometimes tracks remain unused necessarily.

Track titles were supplied by the author. All tracks have perfect loops.
Easy work. This game (and music rom) set the GG Stereo bit to FF and keep setting it throughout while the music plays.

GG Stereo: NO

Enjoy. Now at 1.00
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 8:13 pm
Cool thanks for this Sherpa! Glad to finally see this pack released after all these... years... :S :P
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:37 am
Yes, it's especially nice since Alberto José González is a skilled and dedicated composer. He's the kind I like: good at what he does, focused on music almost exclusively, but still tailoring it to the game. He also seems friendly, knowledgeable, and apparently easy to talk to.

He previously only had one of his packs available on the site, and now he has a couple more :)

Thanks for helping this happen. The VGM scene isn't as active as it was years back, so it's nice to get a request from time to time.
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:24 am
The boss theme I think is one of the, if not the best track from Master System / Game Gear. I'm not a fan of how basic most PSG music sounds, but this is one of the rare times where I want to crank the volume louder. Great composition, great instrumentation. Thank you for this pack!
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:25 pm
Alberto José González is truly a master when it comes to 8-bit music, be it on the SMS, NES or GameBoy.
He's one of my favourite 8-bit composers. (along with Jeroen Tel, Matt Furniss and Tim Follin)
His music is also notable for doing arpeggios the right way, so it doesn't get annoying.

And yes, the boss theme is awesome.
I'm so tempted to reverse-engineer the sound engine now.
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:42 am
It's nice to hear people like you guys appreciate the work of this composer. I thought I found a hidden gem with the composer since I had never heard of him. The music was excellent considering the quality treatment most franchise games get.

I also gave a few listens to this album, especially repeating the Boss and Credits themes, which are really well done. It's hard for my ear to tell what he's doing, it almost sounds like there might be panning but it is a completely mono album.

@VB If you reverse engineer the sound engine, fill us in! He was relatively young when he worked on this. Supposedly he worked on a ZX Spectrum based tracker (he's posted it online) and gradually built up sets of tools and scripts to allow him a high level of control with the music. It seems most of the musicians I like build their own tools, probably inevitable during that era.

@TomyS You mentioned that you thought a lot of PSG music sounded basic. Do you mean that a lot of games don't use the psg very skillfully, or the tone in general? I'm curious considering you're a prolific composer. I don't know what other formats you work with, or if you work with your own tools? I always wonder what modern day chiptune composers use in their work.
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2015 9:07 am
@sherpa, I mean using skillfully. Most of the times the PSG, of course because of the limitations, is too high pitched. The worst for me though is the basic use of noise channel, I don't like when it uses just the bare 3 preset noises with nothing done to them or nothing to back them up.

I can tell about the boss theme here. What sets it apart from most is that the noise channel drums are not just one preset static bursts, but he did what I learned pretty quickly too, to combine the presets together for a much more expressive sound. For example the snare first starts with the low noise sound and then instantly changes for the high noise sound. It gives the sound a little of that "oomph". Hitoshi Sakimoto also used this technique.

On the tone channels the noise is also backed up with a tone drum. The arpeggios are done nice as mentioned, adding a cool rhythmic part to the music. There is also something cool done to the lead melody, the lead first starts with an octave higher note and then quickly goes down one octave.

---

I'm personally no programmer, so I have to get along with the available trackers and tools for playing and recording from real hardware. I also do FM, and for example for PSG I use VGM Music Maker tracker and Maxim's VGM Player now.
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2015 10:19 am
Note that a lot of original music had to use very little CPU time, and had extreme space restrictions. That didn't preclude cleverness, it just meant that you couldn't necessarily afford to update all the channels at every frame, or to have a wide range of tracked effects available. It's also a factor of the music engine - you can hear the similarities when engines are reused, with the same set of capabilities. Only the later, mature engines offer anything close to what you would expect now (advanced drums, envelopes, arpeggiation, 1/16 tones mixed with noise, etc).
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:32 pm
@TomyS Thank you for that informative response. There's enough there to whet my appetite and curiousity :) It's great you have such interest and skill to work and produce so much. It's a shame you're not a programmer. The benefit of being one is you can create tools to suit your purpose if they don't exist. I'm not mush of a programmer myself, but I do use scripting languages a bit for my work when necessary. If I composed, I would probably eventually move to designing my own tools. That is, if I really understood the music format (I know a little), I'd probably want to graduate to using my own tools after exploring the limits of what my chosen software could do. I think the composer also had some hardware that allowed him to hear changes he'd make to his compositions in real time as well.

The composer mentions in his interview here http://good-evil.net/features/interview-with-alberto-gonzalez-part-1 (is that the same bucky that submitted Tintin?) that his music on the Game Gear was limited because it wouldn't go below a certain note. (I recall GB can go a bit lower...a 6th?).

He mentions he later learned a trick to go lower..I haven't used his original software, but I imagined he meant something other than tuning low or bending a note. I wonder what the secret was. He mentions gradually developing new tools, skills, and levels of control, that were surpassed by later tools that became available. Does sound like fun.
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:25 pm
@Maxim, yeah that is very true. I understand they did the best they could at the time. It's a shame the more advanced stuff came so late.

@sherpa, I can be happy that the tracker I use happens to be very well done. There are couple of things I'd add/change if I could, but I've came up with workarounds for different things, so it's not too bad.

SMS/GG can't go below an A2 note, 109hz/110hz I think. It's very limiting, that's hardly any bass. The trick is in the noise channel, it can go very low, but you must sacrifice the third tone channel to control the noise channel frequency. In this "advanced mode" you can change from white noise to periodic noise, the latter which features a kind of "raspy" sounding bass.
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2015 3:52 pm
Jacko, were the music roms released?
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Post Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:11 pm
Those tracks sound pretty nice if you transpose the bass 1 octave down
I can make hardware recordings of this, btw. (My hardware setup has a PSG clock of 1.75 MHz, those VGMs use 1.79 MHz.)

(Conversion process: I halved the SN clock, kept the frequencies of channel 1 and halved them for channels 2-4 to make up for the lower clock.
I also reduced the volume of all tone channels by 1, because the lower noise isn't as audible.)
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 12:58 am
Bock wrote
Jacko, were the music roms released?


They are in my email inbox. I thought I emailed them to you a number of years ago? Can you PM me your email address and i'll send them through? But no they weren't released to the general public.

ValleyBell wrote
And yes, the boss theme is awesome.
I'm so tempted to reverse-engineer the sound engine now.


Same for yourself as well VB. Shoot me your email in a PM and i'll pop the ROMs over to you :)
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:56 am
Jacko wrote
Bock wrote
Jacko, were the music roms released?


They are in my email inbox. I thought I emailed them to you a number of years ago? Can you PM me your email address and i'll send them through? But no they weren't released to the general public.


Could they just be uploaded here?
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 9:32 pm
Bock wrote
Jacko wrote
Bock wrote
Jacko, were the music roms released?


They are in my email inbox. I thought I emailed them to you a number of years ago? Can you PM me your email address and i'll send them through? But no they weren't released to the general public.


Could they just be uploaded here?


Alberto asked for them to be released in a 'controlled' fashion hence why I suggested email. However, what you do with them is up to you :) They need to be shared with the community. Email has been sent Bock :)
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:10 am
There's a reasonable chance they contain the same music engine and data as the released ROM, although it would be good to check. I assume it's a demo ROM like the ones we released from Jeroen Tel.
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:34 pm
It seems to be the same sound engine, but it doesn't match at the byte level if that's what you mean. I assume they just used a subset of the original game code, and the compiler took care of the rest
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:37 am
Last edited by sherpa on Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
New Version. Played through the game, which actually has names for the levels. The proper names for most of these tracks are in Spanish, but I left it as it was for the most part since we got the titles from the composer himself. One track, credits, is unused. Instead of hearing a pleasant theme on your way out, you're treated to the same music that plays right before it, and right after.

Uses pretty much the same engine as Tintin and ids, except that it has one less track, so the last id is 74 rather than 77.

Trigger ids:
C1E8 (id) C1E9 (trigger)

Control: 0x47 (stop), 4A (fade in), 4D (fade out)
Music ids: 0x50, 53, 56, 59, 5C, 5F, 62, 65, 68, 6B, 6E, 71 (unused), 74

00 - Calles id: 0x74 City (New York)
01 - Juguetes id: 0x65 Toy Shop
02 - Metro id: 0x62 Metro
03 - Fabrica id: 0x5F Base
04 - Tejados id: 0x74 City 2
05 - Tejados B id: 0x74 City 3
06 - EndTejad id: 0x6B Boss (machine)
07 - Aereo id: 0x62 Skyplane Level (Metro)
08 - Monte id: 0x53 Mountain
09 - Catacumb id: 0x68 Mountain Trap (River)
10 - Pantano id: 0x59 Swamp
11 - Jungla id: 0x5C Jungle
12 - Rio id: 0x68 River
13 - Cueva id: 0x56 Cave
14 - Base A id: 0x5F Base 2
15 - Base B id: 0x5F Base 2 (escape)
16 - Base C id: 0x6B Boss 2 (Cyanidia)


Other:
id: 0x50 Menu, Intermission, Credits
id: 0x6E Game Over

Unused:
id: 0x71 Credits (Unused)

I'm leaving the old archive up for now, as some might prefer the machine order. This version has been substantially reordered and tags have been fleshed out more according to available information. Also the composers name has the proper accents in the tags. I overlooked them earlier.

Now at 1.01
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:25 am
Last edited by sherpa on Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
Not sure whether this is really the place for it, but I don't have any of the other games in the collection ready atm. The sound engine is actually easier than I thought. The song value is actually the address where the function that loads it begins (unless it's actually song code). Each song gets its section. Not sure how easy it would be to trim. I may take a gander later as well as combining versions. though I don't actually think anyone wants that.

I've created one that focuses on Music and one that focuses on sfx. I made a playlist for each, though for me it only works in foobar. SGCs tested in foobar and winamp.

Combining them might require a bit of thinking for me since I'm more used to interpreting z80 code rather than trying to apply it. Sfx ids are 01-1F (30) and uses a different function than the music for all sfx. The engine allows triggering sfx in two different memory locations. Not sure what 803E does, it seems to load after each sfx, but loading 8044 seems to allow you to play the sfx id at C1EA if you trigger at C1E9.

Song ids start at 0x50 so there's probably a way for me to set some code that calls the playSFX function if the value is less than 30. Currently this sgc doesn't load ids due to the fact the playBGM value is different for each song. Trying to think if it would be possible to load the sfx values after all songs have been loaded so that it becomes a matter of changing the #of songs value.

Not sure if allowing for a separate playSFX value in the header would have made the SGC format easier to work with. Currently, the two bytes related to the sfx values aren't even used in players. That would have been a better use for it.

But either way, it's better than what I would have come up with.

I might take this down someday, but for now I thought you guys might enjoy it.

update: added the combined version. I was going to set the total song value to 0D, but since I included a playlist, you'll get errors if you use it and the total song value isn't 2C. Foobar is a bit buggy, and winamp doesn't seem to support playlist for sgcs (only kss).

Solving it was easy peasy. It checks if the value of a (which starts at 00 by default) is less than 0D, then it jumps 4 bytes ahead to the playBGM code. Otherwise it continues and jumps to the playSFX code which subtracts 0C (first sfx id is 01) and calls the actual playSFX function. The logic of the cp function works the opposite of what i thought. I thought the conditional jump would trigger if the value were greater or equal to 0D. I need to find a better resource for the code use. What I've found is a bit too generic.

Also, I may not have explained it well before but the playBGM code basically just multiplies a by 3 and then adds it to hl (8050) and jumps to the address. If you look at the previous posts it should be clear why.

It was my first time trying to do the math. I usually rely on other tools to tell me what's going on, so I had to muddle for a bit.

Enjoy

update: New version here
http://www.smspower.org/forums/15779-BitManagersMegaSGCPackThreadComplete
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:36 am
Nice effort here Sherpa. It's certainly interesting information.
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Post Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 7:03 pm
I made a few hardware recordings of "bassy" Spirou songs.
The recordings are FLACs, 16-bit 48 KHz. (The original recordings were 24-bit, but that makes the files 70% larger.)

Boss Theme (13.44 MB)
Mountain (23.32 MB)
The hardware setup I have is 2 SN76489A chips clocked at 1.75 MHz, one for the left and right speaker each.
And because I have to send the commands separately to each chip, the left and right channels sometimes cancel each other out if you listen to it with speakers. So I recommend headphones.
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Post Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:44 am
ValleyBell wrote
I made a few hardware recordings of "bassy" Spirou songs.
The recordings are FLACs, 16-bit 48 KHz. (The original recordings were 24-bit, but that makes the files 70% larger.)

Boss Theme (13.44 MB)
Mountain (23.32 MB)
The hardware setup I have is 2 SN76489A chips clocked at 1.75 MHz, one for the left and right speaker each.
And because I have to send the commands separately to each chip, the left and right channels sometimes cancel each other out if you listen to it with speakers. So I recommend headphones.


Nice work as usual :) It's funny that a vgm got converted to FLAC format. Those are probably two of my favorite themes in this pack (How about credits?) . I liked Alberto Gonzales when I first heard the smurfs, but I love this composer now that I heard spirou (especially the boss theme). It's unfortunate this game was never released. I probably would have never played it if not for this pack. The game didn't look too interesting at first glance. I wouldn't call it great, but I think the music helps carry it.

Interesting fact about the noise cancellation effect. Isn't there a way for you to offset the values so that they never match? Not sure how difficult that would be, especially the boss theme, which has a lot of movement. Reminds me of some issues I had working with vgms when the playback speed was changed, you would have some of these effects. Haven't looked too much into a remedy though, it hasn't been a common problem.

What about writing to two chips specifically creates this issue? (Just wondering...might be over my head how the two chips interact)
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Post Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:48 pm
ValleyBell wrote
And because I have to send the commands separately to each chip, the left and right channels sometimes cancel each other out if you listen to it with speakers. So I recommend headphones.


You mean it happens with MONO out, right? With stereo you shouldn't cancel anything, even in case of opposite phase (NIN' Trent Reznor uses this quite a bit ;) )
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Post Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:08 pm
Hmm. Good call. It didn't occur to me even though it is a game gear game. But yes the music is in mono. The game itself only sets the stereo to FF which is basically mono.

I was imagining something to do with the fast arpeggiations and effects he uses and the timing of the chips and hardware.
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Post Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:51 pm
It might depend on the speaker setup, but the left and right speaker can cancel each other out partly. This happened to me quite a few times with a SNES songs that invert the waveform on one of the speakers. It seemed to happen mostly with lower frequencies.

(Also, sherpa gets it totally wrong as usual, as this has nothing to do with GG stereo support OR arpeggios OR the game. I have two separate PSG chips that are controlled by a VGM player that runs on an old computer. And because there is a small delay between the instructions for PSG #1 and PSG #2 one of them ends up with an inverted phase sometimes.
In fact, my VGM player doesn't even handle GG stereo commands.)
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