Chiptune music: An exploration of compositional techniques as found in Sunsoft games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Famicom from 1988-1992

by Hopkins, Christopher J., D.M.A., FIVE TOWNS COLLEGE, 2015, 822 pages; 3712434


This study explores the compositional techniques of eight selected Sunsoft games in detail. Included are complete transcriptions from those games which incorporate common and novel techniques.

The developments that established the chiptune style during the late 1980s lie in three primary areas: technology, the era of its popularity in video games, and the composers. This dissertation examines each area as it relates to chiptune music. First, it explores technology in the sound chips and sound programming techniques used by the Nintendo Entertainment System and Famicom. Next, it provides background information on prominent Sunsoft composers and other notable chiptune composers of the past and present. Lastly, it examines musical excerpts from Sunsoft games, other NES and Famicom games, and more recent games with chiptune soundtracks to identify and codify compositional techniques first as sounds and effects and later as larger musical elements. The findings provide the historical context to examine the direction of chiptune music and video game music in general.

AdviserSteve Briody
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsMusic; Multimedia communications
Publication Number3712434

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