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Chiptunes, also referred to as “chip music”, is a style of synthesized electronic music often made using sound hardware from old video game consoles or computer systems. Gameboys have become popular for live chip performers as they are very portable and can be played with ease on stage.
“8-bit art” can refer to both chiptunes and a form of digital art called pixel art. Both chiptunes and Pixel Art can be more than 8-bits.
According to Wikipedia, the earliest computer music dates back to 1951:
In 1951, the computers CSIRAC and Ferranti Mark 1 were used to perform real-time synthesized digital music in public. In the late 1970s, video game consoles and microcomputers started to have integrated circuits with dedicated sound logic. A notable early example is the TIA chip of the Atari VCS (1977) featuring two voices with separate volume and waveform setting.
Much of the inspiration for chiptunes music comes from the third generation video game consoles, the most notable being the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) released in the US on October 18th, 1985. An iconic chiptune song from this era was the “Overworld” theme from the game Super Mario Bros.
One of the pioneers of the chiptune movement was the artist Trash80. He starting publishing several independent chiptune style songs in 2000, and developed a device that allows midi-making on the Gameboy. In 2003, the Japanese chiptune band YMCK was formed. They ended up recording the music for a Nintendo DS game, PiCOPiCT. In 2004, the NYC based chiptune indie rock band Anamanaguchi was formed that use a hacked original NES and Gameboy. In 2005, an American Grammy nominated musical group named MGMR was formed that has been known to fuse pop and chiptunes. In 2008, a NES-rock band I Fight Dragons was formed that perform original works and covers of other songs in chiptune style.
Youtube has become a popular place to post covers of songs done in completely chiptune formats.
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