Saturday, August 8, 2009

Muzax 8, part 1 – Chris Huelsbeck’s music

The eighth broadcast of Muzax is part of the mini-series « Presentation of a famous videogame music composer ».

The pieces you will hear are composed or adapted by Chris Huelsbeck, a major composer in the videogame world.

In the first part of this broadcast, you will hear music from the demo of Shades and the games Bad Cat, The Great Giana Sisters, R-type, Grand Monster Slam and X-out on the Commodore 64 and the Amiga with a version by Machinae Supremacy.

Listen to this podcast : (comments in French)

Download this podcast in MP3 format by clicking on this link. (comments in French)

Content of broadcast:
Welcome to Muzax, the video games music broadcast.

Today we are going to discover the music of Chris Huelsbeck, a major composer in the videogame world.
“Shades”, his first composition on the Commodore 64, was the music which won him the competition organised in1986 by the German magazine “64’er” read by Commodore 64 fans. This was the beginning of a long career.

One year later, Chris has already composed music for 9 games. We are listening to “Bad Cat”.
Most of the sounds he uses are digitalized. These sound completely compared to the existing music on the Commodore 64 and provide a better sound quality.

One of his first big hits - the music for the game “The Great Giana Sisters” was released in 1987.
This game is very similar to the famous “Super Mario Bros game”. Too similar according to Nintendo who sued the game publisher Rainbow Arts and succeeded in banning its distribution outside Germany.
This tune/melody is used over and over. This is a cover version by the Swedish group “Machinae Supremacy”.
Despite being illegal, “The Great Giana Sisters” remains a reference in micro-computer games.

“R-type” is one of the most famous shoot’em up games and has been adapted for several consoles.
The arcade version has no music before the beginning of the game, that is to say when the title of the game appears and the player is asked to insert coins.
Chris is in charge of writing the intro music. We are listening to the Commodore 64 version.
He wrote another version for the Commodore Amiga in a completely different style.
The quality of the sounds he uses gives a real depth to the music. We can note through this composer’s various musical creations how important digitizing is to his creations.

Still in 1989, Chris writes the “Grand Monster Slam”.
This game is published by Rainbow Arts, one of the main companies he works for.

From the late 80’s, more and more video games have an animated sequence as an introduction to the game. Here is the intro music of “X-out”.
Progress made in micro-computer programming allows games to be more advanced in terms of the level of animation level but also terms of their graphics and music.
This requires a higher level of data storage and consequently it takes longer to load the game.
As a result some music is specially written to entertain the player while he is waiting.

Let’s listen to the X-out loader.
Used for short instants, this music is generally pretty repetitive.
As we listen to music from the 2nd level of this game, this first part dedicated to Chris Huelsbeck is coming to a close. Tune in soon for the next episode of Muzax!

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