What Is 8 Bit Music?

What Is 8 Bit Music?

There is somewhat of a genre that has been on the internet for quite sometime now, mostly as versions of other songs transforming them into a “videogame” like soundtrack. Older videogames such as the ones on Supernintendo and the Sega Genesis had everything recorded through a synthesizer, so music was all made with one instrument as well as sound effects.

When it comes to 8-bit music, probably the first thought that comes to mind is the soundtrack of old videogames such as Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario Bros., and actually these days it’s very easy to search on Youtube to find many versions of songs recreated with the sound of these old consoles in versions calleda “8 bit”.

After many years of study in acoustics, sound and audio, there is some confusion around this specific subject of 8 bit, in environments related to people that work with music and games. The big question is: does 8 bit music means that it’s made in 8 bit resolution? and if we were to record a real 8-bit instrument will it sound like the ones we hear in old video game soundtracks. Well according to medium.com: “In order to have an answer, firstly, we have to understand the concept of digital audio, the meaning of bits and audio resolution”.

8 bit music is actually a technical misconception, due to the fact that the music itself is not in 8 bit, the name of this type of music actually comes from the format of the videogames themselves at the time when they were 8 bit games. However the music is not. according to medium.com there was a test made so that we could listen the difference of audio by decreasing bits from 16 to 8, then to 4, to 2 and ultimately 1.

As we can listen, from 16 bit to 8 bit, there is really no difference so already we can tell that the type of music we were talking about is not 8 bit, however if the audio is pushed to less, a difference start to become more and more obvious, but not in the way we’d think, there is actually just a lot of distortion in the sound.

The reason behind this is that the misconception of 8 bit music is that is not about the resolution of the sound, it’s about the sound wave form, meaning that the way to get the classic game sound, the wave has to be triangle or square shaped which is how it was in the old consoles synths.

Master 8 bit Musician

Cristina Fuentes a musician that is actually a master at Game Boy beats plays “8-bit” music, also known as “chip” music or “chiptunes,” whose name references the computer chips.

For Fuentes and other musicians, what makes this genre so appealing is the way they make the music, the technology they use to make it; classic video games and computer equipment are all part of the instrument rack for these musicians

Fuentes also managed to bring together a small community of people who share the same passion as hers, and now hosts and event where the have awesome 8 bit shows.

“It’s basically a group of 20 of us who have been doing individual shows all based on 8-bit,” says Fuentes, an L.A.-based artist who is one half of the raucous duo Sonic Death Rabbit — with Derrick Estrada, a.k.a. Baseck — and performs solo as Wet Mango. “As of this year, I kind of hit up everybody who was doing similar things and decided to see if everyone wanted to work together to make one big party every month.”

And it’s interesting that people who make this kind of music is not always into gaming, it can be how Fuentes says: “I got into it because it was convenient for me creatively,” or maybe just because there is something appealing about that sound.

It’s electronic music with nostalgia and a simple sound.

Arturo Riera
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