Chiptune music is one of the most distinctive and nostalgia-inducing genres of music around. It hearkens back to the sound of 8-bit arcade games and computers, conjuring up feelings of childlike wonder and fun. For example, the iconic Super Mario Bros. theme song is a chiptune track.
But what people may not know is that chiptune music doesn’t just belong in video games — it can be used in a variety of contexts to create an interesting and engaging soundtrack. Imagine how the opening scene of your favorite TV show could be transformed with a chiptune track.
Chiptune music may sound simple at first, but making it is not just a straightforward series of beeps. There are a variety of ways to create it. You can use synthesizers and other instruments to recreate the classic 8-bit sounds associated with chiptune. What was once deemed "video game music" is now being used in movies, commercials, and other media.
So, how can you use chiptune music in your project? Let's take a closer look at the use cases for chiptune music and how to find royalty-free chiptune tracks for your project.
Why Is Chiptune Music So Appealing?
Chiptune music is incredibly appealing due to its unique sound and nostalgia factor. Its upbeat, 8-bit tones evoke — for people in the right age range, at least — childhood memories of playing video games and the joys of exploring a virtual world.
What Makes Chiptune Different
Chiptune music is different from conventional music because it is produced using the sound chips found in computers and game consoles. This means that chiptune music can be created to have a distinctive sound that can’t be replicated by other types of music.
The anatomy of chiptune music is also unique. It typically consists of square and triangle waves, along with a variety of other sounds. This sound palette lends itself to 8-bit and 16-bit games, but it can also be used in films, commercials, and other media.
Although not everyone is a fan of chiptune tracks, some people like this form of electronic music because of its retro feel. Its lo-fi sound and quirky beats can give projects an interesting edge.
So, does chiptune music have a place in the world of mainstream electronic music? It might one day! Although it still has an underground following, chiptune music is becoming more popular and accessible.
Subcultures within chiptune music are also growing, with fans of genres such as 8-bit jazz and chiptune hip hop. In this way, chiptune music is always evolving and becoming more diverse. Eventually, it may become a well-established genre of its own.
Benefits of Chiptune Music
Using chiptune tracks in your project can be beneficial for many reasons, but here are a few noteworthy ones:
Chiptune tracks can be found royalty-free, meaning that you don’t have to pay a licensing fee to use the music in your project. This can save you time and money when creating a soundtrack for your video or other creative projects.
Chiptune music is unlike other sounds and can add a special touch to your project. Its 8-bit sound provides a nostalgic feel, and its quirky beats and melodies can be just the thing to make your project stand out from the crowd. Whether you're making a movie or designing a video game, chiptune music can add an original soundtrack to the mix.
Easy To Find
Chiptune tracks are easy to find online, thanks to sites like StockMusic.net. Here, you can browse a library of royalty-free chiptune music and find the perfect track for your project.
Especially among millennials and Gen Zers, chiptune music has a powerful nostalgic pull. Its 8-bit sound is reminiscent of childhood video game memories, making it instantly recognizable and evocative.
Limitations of Chiptune Tracks
Critics of the genre cite its repetitive sound as a downfall, but to chiptune music fans, this is a feature rather than a bug. As a bonus, chiptune tracks are often short and sweet, making them a great option for smaller projects. Like any genre, however, chiptune music comes with its limitations. Here are some examples:
Since the tracks are often repetitive, it can be difficult to create something that stands out from the rest.
Chiptune music is produced using sound chips. The available instruments are limited. This can make it tricky to create something new.
Lack of Creative Control
Instead of conventional instruments, chiptune music is created using sound chips. This limits how much control you can have over the final product. It can be tough to create something that sounds how you want if you're going for a specific vibe.
Fortunately, there are some ways to make chiptune music sound different from traditional 8-bit music.
What Are the Different Types of Music for Video Games?
Over the years, chiptune music has been used in various video games. Depending on the type of game, the soundtrack may fall into one of several categories. Here are some of the most common types of game music:
This type of music is often associated with old-school arcade games and platformers. Wonky chiptune sounds are meant to be chaotic, fun, and quirky. For example, the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games feature a wonky chiptune soundtrack. Its cadence and sound effects add to the nostalgia factor associated with these games.
This type of chiptune music is meant to create a sense of atmosphere and mood in the game. It is often slower than wonky chiptune music and can be used to create tension or excitement. Atmospheric chiptune is common in horror games, as it can create an eerie and suspenseful atmosphere. One example of atmospheric chiptune music is the iconic “X-Files” theme song.
Hyperpop, or action-packed chiptune music, is best suited for action games like racing, fighting, and platformers. Although it has a more upbeat sound than wonky chiptune music, it still has the 8-bit sound associated with chiptune. Hyperpop chiptune music is often used to create a feeling of excitement and intensity in video games. Boss battle themes are often written in this genre.
Kawaii Future Bass
Kawaii future bass is a new type of chiptune music that combines elements of future bass, trance, and 8-bit sounds. In general, future bass is characterized by its heavy use of synths, drum machines, and various effects. Kawaii future bass has a distinct soft, cutesy sound that can be used in games with more of a fantasy or lighthearted theme. Think of the music from games like Pokemon or Animal Crossing.
Bitpop chiptune music is similar to wonky chiptune, but it has a more upbeat tempo and a danceable beat. It’s perfect for rhythm-based games or sports-related titles. Additionally, bitpop chiptune music has a more modern feel than traditional 8-bit sounds, as it often features bass lines and vocoded vocals.
Retro-futurism chiptune is a type of chiptune music that combines classic 8-bit sounds with futuristic elements. These elements may include distorted synth basslines and complex sound design. This type of chiptune is best suited for sci-fi games, as its futuristic sounds evoke a sense of exploration and surrealism. Its sound sparks nostalgia while also providing an edgy and modern twist.
Retrowave chiptune is a style of chiptune music that takes inspiration from classic video game soundtracks as well as the '80s synthwave genre. It features bright and uplifting melodies combined with heavily distorted basslines and complex sound design. Retrowave chiptune often has a dreamy and nostalgic sound, perfect for games with a retro-futuristic theme.
Epic chiptune is a type of chiptune music that combines classic 8-bit sounds with modern sound design techniques. It features a driving, powerful beat and soaring melodies. Epic chiptune is used in games with a heroic or epic theme, such as RPGs and action-adventure games. The music is designed to evoke a feeling of adventure and excitement in the player.
Types of Chiptune Music in Notable Video Games
Chiptune music has been used in many popular video games over the years. Here are some of the most recognizable examples:
- Final Fantasy: This classic game features a wide range of chiptune tracks, most notably the dreamy “Aerith’s Theme.”
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening includes a variety of chiptune tracks, such as the iconic “Overworld Theme.”
- Super Mario Bros.: The Super Mario Bros. soundtrack is one of the most recognizable chiptune soundtracks of all time, with its catchy “Mario Theme” track.
Helpful Tips for Making Music for Video Games
Why would you want to make a chiptune track? Well, it's an opportunity to create something fun and retro that stands out from the rest.
The Elements of a Hit Chiptune Track
What makes a good game soundtrack anyway? Here are a few elements to keep in mind:
- A catchy melody: The best game soundtracks have a melody that lingers in the player’s memory.
- Evolution: A great chiptune track should constantly evolve throughout the game. This can be done through dynamic changes in tempo and melody.
- Depth: A good chiptune track should have enough layers of sound to make it sound interesting and complex.
How To Produce Chiptune Music Like a Pro
Whether you're creating a track for your own video game or just want to experiment, here are some helpful tips for beginners on how to make chiptune music:
Know the Ropes of Sound Synthesis
Learn how to use chiptune sound synthesis, or how computers create sound. It’s important to understand how different waveforms and frequencies interact with one another to create a compelling chiptune track.
Expand Your Musical Palette
Chiptune tracks don’t have to be limited to just 8-bit sounds. Explore different genres, instruments, and effects to put your own unique spin on a chiptune track.
Explore Chiptune Libraries
Look into chiptune libraries for royalty-free tracks that you can use in your projects. There are plenty of great resources out there with high-quality chiptune music to choose from.
Experiment With Different Tempos
Chiptune music has traditionally been associated with fast-paced and upbeat tempos, but don’t be afraid to explore different speeds for your tracks. Slower-tempo chiptune songs can add an interesting touch to your project and can help create an atmosphere that’s both engaging and calming.
Keep It Simple and Fun
Chiptune music is all about fun and simplicity, so don’t get bogged down in overly complicated tracks. Remember that the best chiptune tracks are simple and catchy, inspiring joy and nostalgia for listeners.
Making chiptune music can be an enjoyable experience, but it does take some practice. With the right tools and techniques, you can create something special that will stand out from the crowd.
Where Can You Make Music for Games?
Making chiptune music for video games is a great way to flex your creative muscles and make something that's truly yours.
Many platforms allow you to create, share, and sell your chiptune tracks. Services like Bandcamp and Soundcloud are great places to start if you’re looking for more exposure for your work.
Additionally, sites like StockMusic.net have royalty-free chiptune tracks available for purchase. If you're looking to make more sophisticated music for video games, there are plenty of great DAWs (digital audio workstations) such as Ableton Live and FL Studio that will help you on your journey.
Where To Find the Best Chiptune Music
If you’re looking for inspiration, there are plenty of resources to explore. Platforms like YouTube and Spotify have countless chiptune albums and compilations that will help you find the best chiptune music out there.
You can also check out forums like Chipmusic.org or 8bitcollective, which are great places to find other chiptune producers and share your work.
And don't forget to check out sites like StockMusic.net for royalty-free chiptune tracks that you can use in your projects.
Chiptune music is an exciting and intriguing way to create music for video games. By understanding how sound synthesis works and exploring chiptune libraries, you can make something special that stands out from the crowd. Experiment with different sounds, tempos, and genres to create music that's unique.
StockMusic.net offers royalty-free stock music and sound effects for media creators. You can purchase chiptune music and other stock music to use in your projects. Subscribe today for more resources to help you create your next video game soundtrack.