Although 24-bit audio is now the standard procedure on most DAWs, and many of us have experience with 32-bit floating point audio, there’s been a growing legion of music producers who have had remarkable success with 8-bit music.
Whilst this seemingly simple music had its origins in the early days of video gaming, it’s rapidly become featured in everything from modern dancefloor hits to mobile casino games.
8-bit or ‘chiptune’ music first became commonplace in the 1980s where the soundchips in early gaming systems allowed programmers to make primitive, but highly catchy soundtracks to iconic titles on the Commodore 64 and Nintendo Gameboy devices.
Whilst improvements in computer hardware meant that 8-bit music fell out of favour during the 1990s, a few nostalgic musicians couldn’t resist seeing how chiptune music would work on the dancefloor.
And much like Kraftwerk found that simple melodies and metronomic beats sounded appealing, visionary artists like Yuzo Koshiro realised that games like Streets of Rage could be made all the more exciting with some retro-themed 8-bit soundtracks that sounded as good in a nightclub as on a console.
So inspiring was Koshiro’s work that musicians like Beck and The Killers started to use old-school video game audio in their songs. And as well as a passing trend for chiptone music nights, and it’s hard to imagine how Deadmau5 would have gotten started without the spark of inspiration from 8-bit soundtracks.
Whilst 8-bit music has found a natural home amongst some of the retro slots games that make up the online casino scene, it’s going to be fascinating to see where it will end up next. With the blog at Lucky Nugget Casino suggesting that virtual reality casino gaming could be here soon, it remains to be seen how such lo-fi sounds will sit with such futuristic technology.
But as 8-bit music has made a home for itself amongst the highly produced pop hits of Kesha and Robyn, it seems as though the future is limitless for such seemingly primitive sounds. Forward-thinking stars like Four Tet and Dizzee Rascal have cleverly used 8-bit audio to help their music gain an aggressive and distinctive edge.
And with a new wave of dubstep producers showing how even ancient games like Frogger and Donkey Kong can provide some startlingly modern sounds, it seems as though it isn’t just mobile casino games that aren’t enjoying the benefits of 8-bit music.