Chiptunes: Beauty in Simplicity


I love chiptunes.  I have met few other people who love chiptunes as much as me.  Hell, I have met few other people who can even sit down and listen to chiptunes without getting annoyed.  It is arguable that my love for chiptunes comes from nostalgia.  It is true that some of my favorite games are old enough that their soundtracks are chiptunes (and I do listen to them recreationally).  But I would argue that my love of the genre is more than just a fond looking back at simpler times.

Chiptunes have changed a lot as well as very little over the years.  What truly intrigues me about the style is the limit it imposes on artists.  There are only so many tones, and only so many mutual tones which can be played.  This is due to the technological limitations of computing/hardware back when chiptunes were first created, but now following those rules has turned into a choice.  Sort of like a painter refusing to work with anything but red and blue, chiptunes artists are forced to work within harsh parameters, yet they have created some amazing works.

Of course my first introduction to chiptunes was via my old game systems, but later in life I came across the Makeup and Vanity set by The Protomen, which was a chiptunes cover of their first album.  Later I came across a Bittorrent download, titled 8-Bit Peoples, which was a collection of many different chiptunes artists of various styles (including both Anamanaguchi and Rushjet1).

I think one of the things that appeals to me about chiptunes is the beauty of simplicity.  Chiptunes are in a way an expression of the core ideals of music.  The classics are simple enough that everyone remembers them, as opposed to modern game music which is often forgettable (not because it is bad, but because you just can’t hum the theme to Civilization V).

But if you’re listening to any of the links which I’m providing, you’ll notice that chiptunes have actually gotten more complicated over the years.  Mega Man, Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon, are all extremely simplistic in comparison to the stylings of Xinon, nullsleep, and Dr Octoroc.

Despite the simplistic nature of chiptunes, they can still create amazingly complex works.  That is what I find extremely interesting about art really.  No matter the constraint something amazing can still be created.  It’s why Tetris is such an amazing game.  It is truly one of the most simplistic gameplay premises ever created, and despite that it provides audiences with some of the most fun which any game has ever provided.  K.I.S.S. is honestly my favorite rule in life, and if used as a restriction it can become one of the most interesting rules for anyone to follow.

In all honesty I am sort of just writing filler paragraphs to loosely link together links to various chiptunes tracks because I had an exam yesterday which stole away my attention and motivation.  So I’ll just leave a few more song links for you guys to rock out to.  I’m a tad drunk and lazy, so just be happy that anything is being published and I’m providing you with some sweet [chip]tunes!


2 responses to “Chiptunes: Beauty in Simplicity

  1. Minor correction: “Makeup and Vanity Set” is the artist who created “Presents: The Protomen”, which is the chiptunes cover of the self-titled album by The Protomen.

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