Back to the 8-Bit: A study of electronic music counter-culture

by Alex Yabsley



This paper examines technologies effect on musical cultures. Specifically focussing on two musical genres that rely on the use of old electronic gear to make music, Chiptunes and Circuit Bending. Through Internet field research within these cultures, based on ethnographic principles of ‘participant observation’ an in-depth analysis of all parts of these genres is made. This project also aims to test the validity and accessibility of these musical styles, and discusses this, revealing that many aspects of the genres lend them to be more accessible than other electronic art music forms. The paper concludes with the author’s own thoughts from the results of field research, on why these genres are in fact valid art forms, and that they are needed to progress the world of electronic music.

Topic Overview

Production techniques within music are more often than not linked to specific pieces of technology. This paper intends to explore how specific technology or access to it defines musical genres and sub-cultures. Specifically the paper will focus on the lo-fi electronica movement and its use of out-dated, cheap or unconventional technology to create music. The research will explore the validity of such genres, in terms of audience accessibility in comparison to other experimental musical forms. It will also cover a historical overview and an ethnomusicological analysis of the various genres involved.

            This study will hopefully provide readers with an insight into electronic music counter cultures as well as some thoughts on experimental music and the nature of modern technological consumerism. The main genres examined are Chiptunes and Circuit Bent music.  Chiptunes is an ambiguous term that originally was used to describe the music made for early digital processors, therefore consisting of only simple waveforms (Wikipedia, 2006a). This definition has been broadened to incorporate music both made on the original processors, or on technology that attempts to emulate those processors. As Jakobsson (2005) wrote, “the most important element of Chiptunes…is the sound”(para.16), the sound being the familiar beeps and blips from early video and arcade games. Circuit Bending is in a similar vein, however instead of being interested in just old computer and video console sound chips, it involves physically changing a basic sound chip to create a new instrument. Reed Ghazala (2005) is the man that coined the phrase ‘circuit bending’ to describe the art of creating various alterations to a cheap circuit, generally electronic toys, to turn them into musical performance tools. Collins (2006) provides this definition,


Circuit Bending is freestyle sound design with a post-modern twang-the perfect escape for artists bored by the powerful and often stultifyiningly rational, software tools that increasingly dominate music production, but still hooked on the digitally inspired cut and paste aesthetic of scavenging, sampling and reworking found material (pg.91).


            Both of these genres exemplify the main topic of the paper, which is technologies effect on defining musical cultures, they also provide a foundation to discuss the papers argument of whether these genres are valid artistic pursuits. In regards to the validity of these genres a methodology has been devised in which an ethnographic approach of qualitative research is used (Becker & Geer, 1960). This will provide credibility to the arguments presented, as well as revealing its flaws. Both points of view are presented from various forms of literature and then discussed from an informed viewpoint.

            Firstly the methodology and approach to research will be explained. Historical background and a musical and cultural discussion will be provided, examining both Chiptunes and Circuit Bending respectively. Finally the paper will discuss the validity and accessibility of these genres in relation to the results of the method and opinions from various literatures. The paper does not aim to find definitive answers, but provide insight into this field.


As previously mentioned the main aims of this paper are to reveal the phenomenon of technology forming musical cultures, and to examine whether these genres are valid art forms. The study of musical cultures is described as ethnomusicology, which is a field of ethnography. Research within this field generally requires a technique referred to as  ‘participant observation’, which involves becoming a part of a culture over a period of time and observing by taking part (Becker & Geer, 1960). In relation to ethnomusicology, Merriam’s (1964) ‘simple model’ describes cultural musical study to take place on three analytical levels “conceptualisation about music, behaviour about music and sound music itself” (pg.32). So ‘participant observation’ and Merriam’s ‘simple model’ can work in combination to provide a solid background for a methodology, however the cultures that are to be studied are far from traditional anthropological study.

            The essence of these counter-cultures, especially Chiptunes exist primarily on the Internet, so to conduct the research I must observe and participate in the cyber culture. This may seem bizarre, however many ethnomusicological studies have taken place through ‘participant observation’ on the Internet. Lysloff (2004), in the essay Musical life in softcity: an internet ethnography, explains some of the processes in internet field research and explains most of the doubts about this research is due to the lack of contact with physical beings, “I often asked myself whether what I was doing was actually fieldwork, since I never had to go anywhere physically” (pg. 25). This research involved collecting song files, participating in forums and collecting various texts, which are all forms of ethnographic research. Lange (2001) writes about the use of hypermedia, meaning any digital media source, within ethnomusicology and raises the issue of “comprehending live performance” (pg.132) within this research.

             In the case my paper, the study involved observing the cultures through a variety of digital mediums as well as participating via cyber space. To participate in the culture I decided to create a musical work parallel to the paper. My background is in the area of experimental electronic composition, so the work is approached from a purely artistic point of view. The piece to be created is a performance for Nintendo DS with Nanoloop 2.0[1], other video game samples and a Playstation controller for MIDI control. The piece is informed by my research and in turn I can personally reflect on the genre from a compositional view to inform my research. I also created songs to submit to online Chiptune databases. These elements of participation helped myself form an opinion on this topic and also become close to it, which has created a bias. Therefore within the observational material many different opinions are purposefully selected to attempt to counter any bias present.

            To address the use of Merriam’s (1964) ‘simple model’ with ‘participant observation’ on the Internet, the conceptual view of music within these cultures is gathered from online, forums discussion boards and video and audio Podcasts, which contain interviews. The behaviour is observed through videos of concerts, artist profiles and design layout of various WebPages. The musicality is observed through audio files, software and my participation. This data is arranged in the following way, the conceptual view of music is covered in the Historical Overview and the behaviour and musicality in the Musical/Cultural Analysis. So this papers methodology is to use ‘participant observation’ on the Internet, with Merriam’s (1964) ‘Simple model’ as a guide to categorise the observations with the results to provide an informed opinion to discuss the argument of whether Chiptunes and Circuit Bending are valid and accessible art forms.


Historical Overview

Everybody is familiar with the blips and bloops of Pac-Man and Super Mario Brothers, but how many people actually put that music on their stereo or in their car. Surprisingly it is quite a few, the number of video game music websites, remixes and cover bands is growing exponentially and in amongst all this is a culture and scene that is beginning to make waves in the musical world. Chiptunes, which in this paper is defined as any original music that is either created with or trying to emulate the sound of retro sound chips. The reason that original music is specified is because the remix and cover band scene is quite different, whilst not completely separate, from the original music scene. This definition is far from its pure form, as stated on VORC (n.d.) “the term… [lost]… some of its traditional purity and started to mean something like anything bleepy…[and that] using just phrase-sampled chip loops or music partially featuring chip tones are not considered as Chiptunes or chip music” (para.6). This purity and authenticity debate happens within every musical genre, however this paper is interested in just the music and culture that was born from the original Chiptunes, which includes songs that emulate the original sounds using samples and modern software.[2]

            The Amiga, Atari and Commodore 64 were some of the first commercially available computer systems. These machines had sound chips that began to be used as sound effects, and as technology advanced 8-bit audio with 4 mono-channels became possible and this meant music could be made (Barton, 2003).  It is these early computers along with the first generation Nintendo consoles that form the basis of the Chiptune sound and because of this it is often referred to as 8-bit music and many artists use the term 8-bit within their name.[3] This 8-bit technology came about in the late 1970’s and remained dominant until the introduction of 16 bit machines (McDonald, n.d). During that period in Europe and eventually most of the northern hemisphere a culture emerged known as the ‘demo’ or ‘mod’ scene. This was a group of teenage programmers who ‘cracked’ Amiga and Atari games and programmed their own intro on the front. This initially was just some graphics trickery, but soon music programs such as SidMon and Ultimate Soundtracker were released for the general public (VORC, n.d). The music editors created for these systems are known as ‘Trackers’, which in most cases have a timeline which scrolls vertically in which notes and instruments can be inserted. Trackers output very small files that can then be used in programming, or today for Internet sharing many plug-ins have been created to allow people to listen to ‘tracker’ files on modern PC’s. This built up a community parallel to the mod scene which focussed primarily on music, this culture was all about pushing the boundaries of the technology and getting as much as possible out of single sound chips (Lysloff, 2004). This is believed to be the birth of Chiptunes, however at some point it became quite separate from the demo and tracker scene, possibly in 1999 with the release of, because in 2000 the Chiptune scene began being influenced by people other than programmers. Some of these new Chiptune’s were created by 8-bit Construction Set, made entirely from Atari and Commodore 64s and released on vinyl with recorded binary data that could be dubbed onto cassette for use with the Atari or Commodore (Flat Four Radio, ep.2, 2005). This record had outside impact on the musical world, with artists such as Mixmaster Mike and Mathew Herbert praising it (Beige Records, n.d).

This culture expanded beyond owners of old computers and people using trackers on modern computers when an artist who goes by the name of Rolemodel released Little Sound DJ, a software cartridge for the original Gameboy that allowed tracking on a hand held console (McClaren, 2003). The resulting Gameboy music scene is probably one of the biggest within the Chiptune culture. Nanoloop was released soon after by Oliver Wittchow, this is another piece of software that allows music to be made on the Gameboy (Nanoloop, n.d). Gameboy music has been noticed by the infamous ex-sex pistols manager Malcolm McClaren (2003), who said, “It's the Nintendo generation sampling its youth. The essence of chip music is in reverse engineering an electronic interface - whether it's a Game Boy or a computer's sound chip - and subverting its original design.”(para.2.3). Gameboy music has had a brush with fame with Beck’s “Gameboy Variations” EP released exclusively online in 2005 on Interscope, (Apple, 2006). The sound chip in the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), called the 2A03 has been emulated in many ‘trackers’ such as the popular Famitracker, these programs output NSF, Nintendo sound format, files which have very small file size which can either be uploaded onto NES cartridges or shared on various online communities such as (Allen, Ep.11, 2006). The NES has had even more of a musical revival when recently MIDI-NES was released by Wayfar. MIDI-NES is a cartridge that allows MIDI input into a NES console for control of the internal sound chip (Wayfar, n.d). Enthusiasts, hackers, students and hobbyists, not official designers are constantly creating new technology for use in conjunction with old hardware. This retrospective design or ‘reverse engineering’ is at the heart of Chiptune music.

It is clear to see how this musical genre is solely influenced by and dependent on certain technologies and their misuse. Be it from the early ‘demo’ scene trackers, to people using Gameboy’s with a music cartridge they bought off the ‘net’, all Chiptunes come back to the sounds created by small chips within early computers and consoles.

Musical/Cultural Analysis

Chiptunes culture as with its music is very much about the retrospective, as well as computer games. The distinctive sound of early computers is due to the lack of processing power, modern computers can emulate real sound by sampling it in thousands of separate parts, early computers only had to synthesise sounds from scratch. Because these computers operate in binary, ‘on’ and ‘off’ (1 and 0), the easiest thing to synthesise therefore is a square wave which is just an ‘on’ followed by ‘off’. The most common combination is 4 or 5 monophonic channels that consist of various combinations of square wave, triangle wave, noise and a sample channel (Allen, ep.3, 2006). These are more often than not arranged in classic rock band format, squares are melody, triangle is bass and noise is drums. The sample channel can be used for various things such as speech emulation or actual drum samples. Various filters can be applied to vary these waveforms such as vibrato, which gets the ‘classic’ electronic phone sound or pitch bends and slides.

Creating drums from the noise channel is one of the most distinctive features of Chiptunes, as Paul Davis, from 8-bit construction set puts it “it just has a totally crap crunchy sound” (Flat Four Radio ep.2, 2005). The noise is controlled via pitch and envelopes, a low pitched blast of noise with fast attack and release makes a good kick, a very high blast of noise with the same envelope makes a good hi hat and a midrange noise with medium release makes a snare.

As previously mentioned the sound is what defines Chiptunes so all the other musical considerations change from artist to artist. There are a large number of artists that are inspired by other musical styles and incorporate that into the Chiptune sound, for example NESmetal makes metal songs using Nintendo sounds and Japan’s YMCK incorporate 50’s style jazz within Chiptunes (Wikipedia, 2006a). Some key musical features that are present within the majority of Chiptunes are defined by the technology. Because of the lack of channels chords above 3 notes were impossible, this means more often than not long bass notes with a melody channel playing fast arpeggios provides the harmonic progression. Fast-synchronised passages are also common; this may be borrowed from video game compositions as many game composers often “went out of their way to compose complex rapid sequences of notes” (Wikipedia, para.2.3, 2006b). Obviously with all these limitations all that is left is the melody, and on almost all forums the melody is discussed as the most important aspect of a good Chiptune (Jakobsson, 2005). So musically Chiptunes always use similar sounds and the technology dictates some stylistic features, what changes from song to song are most notably its outside genre influences and its melody.

The subculture that exists around Chiptunes is also a product of the technology. Almost all people within the Chiptune subculture have a keen interest in video games and geek culture. This extends to things such as many Chiptune artists use the gamer language ‘leet’ to name tracks, for example ‘w34k & sm411’ translates as ‘weak and small’ (Burke, 2005). Retro video game imagery surrounds the culture, often with particular reference to Nintendo, for example Nullsleep, a Gameboy artist, performs wearing a shirt that say’s “Classically Trained” around an image of a NES (8bit Masters NY, 2005). The counter cultural element of the Chiptune community is emphasised by Malcolm McClaren (2003), for example,                   


Chip musicians plunder corporate technology and find unlikely uses for it. They make old sounds new again - without frills, a recording studio, or a major record label. It would be facile to describe the result as amateurish; it's underproduced because it feels better that way. The nature of the sound, and the equipment used to create it, is cheap. This is not music as a commodity but music as an idea (para.2.3).


The anti-corporate nature of the culture is basically unspoken, but quite clear.  The majority of Chiptunes are available on the Internet for free download. The website VORC collates a lot of these free downloads from various database sites like and puts them into a Podcast. (VORC, n.d). 8bitcollective allows anybody to upload songs, videos or images in Chiptune style and stores them in a database where they can be commented on and rated. Within the Chip community people are very keen to hear what other people are doing and constantly share techniques and song files. One of the largest Chiptune net label’s ‘8bit Peoples’ places most of its releases online under a creative commons licence[4] (8bitpeoples, n.d).  These are all examples of how the Chip community avoids the mainstream music industry, whilst still not pointing the finger and stating their dislike of the mainstream. This is the main element of counter culture present that seems to encapsulate the entire scene.

            McClaren (2003) also likes to emphasise the scene’s dislike for Hi-Fi music, quoting an example of a Gameboy musician wearing a t-shirt that says “F*&K ProTools” (para.1.4). This however may be an element of the counter culture that McClaren is over emphasising, as VORC (n.d) says about McClaren “ casual people focus on just punky gadget aspect of Chiptunes, not musical appeal” (para.4). Most Chip musicians are more interested in the music than promoting a cause or message; interestingly a majority of the musicians also listen to and are involved with either experimental art music or intelligent dance music. So I believe the interest is not so much the punk nature of using cheap gear but the skill of using limited resources to create good music.

            Chiptune culture in general is far more diverse and complex than the simplicity of the sound chips that inspire it. The music is restricted by the technology, however these limitations are pushed to their extremes in the name of creativity. The culture is very friendly and community based, with ideals opposing the mainstream corporate world, without being ‘preachy’. The use of limited technology is more about creating good melodic music than attacking the world of over produced pop. Overall the music and culture stay true to the ideals of early video games, having fun.

Circuit Bending

Historical Overview

The background concept of Circuit Bending goes back to early avant-garde composers such as John Cage and David Tudor. These composers pulled apart electronic devices and used them as musical instruments, even before them in 1915 Lee de Forest the inventor the vacuum-tube-based audion piano “wrote of the very weird and beautiful effects that could be obtained by touching parts of the circuitry” (Mirapaul, para.10, 2004). However it is Reed Ghazala (2005) who famously short-circuited a mini amp in his draw in 1967 that created a “flanged pitch…sweeping upward to a higher frequency, over and over again” (pg.8). From that moment he has been creating new instruments from old electronics and teaching people the world over, making him the titled ‘father’ of Circuit Bending.

            Ghazala only began to come into public attention in the last few years, in that time he has built up enough followers to create a new musical genre and culture. Ghazala’s fascination began in the 1970’s, as a 15 year old he could not afford a synthesizer, so he began making his own from cheap circuits (Ghazala, 2005). Many musicians, whether inspired by Ghazala or on their own path of discovery, began similar projects to make electronic music without expensive synthesisers. As Collins (2006) puts it, “Britains vibrant Bending scene has roots in the prevalence of toys as affordable, alternative noise makers among improvisers in the 1970’s” (pg.92). This excitement died down with the introduction if the integrated circuit and the computer in the 80’s until the re-emphasis of circuit bending as a anti-computer backlash in the late 90’s (Collins, 2006).

            This backlash was most probably led by the launch of Ghazala’s website in which the process of circuit bending was described alongside many examples of Ghazala’s own work. This was picked up by many of the indie, anti-mainstream artists of the time, and they adapted ‘Circuit Bending’ to be used in a new context, as a compliment to dance or pop music. Many different artists have used Circuit Bent instruments; Nine Inch Nails, Autechre, Aphex Twin, Damon Albarn and the Flaming Lips (Circuitbenders, n.d). In recent years this has expanded to a festival in New York exclusively for Circuit Bent music entitled BENT. This festival started in 2004 to allow Circuit Benders to meet perform and attend workshops and try and further spread knowledge of this art form, Reed Ghazala is a regular guest speaker (BENT, 2006). This festival is helping promote this music to the world, however ‘pure’ Circuit Bent music has not had any major CD releases and seems destined to remain a live participatory art form.


Musical/Cultural Analysis

The musicality and culture of Circuit Bending is almost completely of its own. Firstly this analysis is of the pure form of Circuit Bending music and culture, and not its use within other genres. Bent instruments create electronic sounds, often randomly fluctuating in pitch or volume and embracing the sound of ‘glitches’ or noisy blasts.  This element of embracing errors is at the centre of Circuit Bending, it is about creating sounds that are not supposed to happen and not supposed to be heard (Gard, 2004). In terms of musicality, as with electronic art music, it is primarily concerned with timbre and takes little regard of pitch and rhythm in a classical sense. Ghazala (2005) explains that part of the composition process is the discovery of these sounds, and the actual bending is as important as the output work. He applies some philosophical theories to the art such as ‘chance electronics’. In a similar vein to Cage’s aleatoric music, the art of Bending is dependent on chance, when a person prepares to bend they have no idea of the final outcome. Bending involves randomly testing links between different parts of the circuit and listening to the sound.  The musical nature of Circuit Bending has more to do with the process than the resultant sound and is a genre of experimentation.

            The culture behind Circuit Bending owes a lot to Reed Ghazala and his writings. Ghazala (2005) is a very new age theoretical type. For example he describes in his book the art of turning a toy into a performance instrument through body contacts, that is, parts that can be touched to ‘play’ the circuit. He describes these instruments as BEA-sapes, Bio-Electrical Audio sapiens a proposed new species as you become a part of the circuit instrument (pg.16-17). This eclectic nature runs through all Ghazala’s writing and therefore attracts many ‘neo-hippies’. Quite often Circuit Benders are seen performing with long hair heads down in amongst the instrument they have built (Cementimental, 2005). Another side of the culture is the anarchistic chaos factor, the complete anti-music of noise. So Circuit Bending culture also touches the noise culture that is prevalent in Japan. In general the culture of Circuit Bending is alternative and eclectic, yet has a novelty and cuteness that opens it up to the world. Circuit Bending has a music and culture that is based on experimentation and anarchy, it has roots in electronic art movement and influences new age thinking, overall it is a stand-alone art form unlike any other.

Validity and Accessibility

Chiptunes and Circuit Bending have been explained as being subcultures and genres that were created from certain technologies, but are they valid artistic pursuits and do they provide an accessible alternative to other electronic art music? Firstly I will discuss Chiptunes in relation to the results of my methodology and various literatures. Followed by the same discussion on Circuit Bending.

            From my ‘participant observation’ within the Chip scene a few things revealed themselves as to why it is or perhaps is not a valid artistic form. Firstly composing music from limited resources is extremely challenging and most Chip composers quote this as their reason for making the music (Cool Hunting, ep.1, 2006). Belinke’s (1999) paper describes the creative and inventive nature of using a video game sound chip, and a very common point to arise is that being creative using limited resources only expands the creativity. Some observations I made were the elitist nature of the Chip scene, this is one of the areas in which there is great debate (VORC, n.d), and often some great songs are disregarded because of thoughts of unauthenticity. For the art form to expand and improve, this elitist behaviour will have to be forgotten. The only other element of negativity is its inability to be disconnected from video game semiotics and many believe because of this it will remain nothing more than a novelty (Flat Four Radio, ep.4, 2004). As Montgomery Knott says “Its fun and its interesting, but how its applied, it needs to go somewhere else” (Cool Hunting, ep.5, 2006). This seems to be a general view, but if it is looked at from the point of view as an art form in which musicians challenge themselves it has to be seen as a valid musical style.

            The accessibility of Chiptunes can be assessed from a variety of factors. First of all the level of melodic content immediately interests many listeners more than most art music. The Gameboy has opened up the accessibility as Mike Rosenthal, the artistic director of electronic art music venue ‘The Tank’ said; “something that is so appealing about the Gameboy, is people get it. They see it they love it, it reminds them of their youth, their childhood…some of the biggest nights at ‘The Tank’ have been Gameboy nights” (Cool Hunting, ep.5, 2006). This element of accessibility due to the sounds and hardware is the biggest drawcard and its downfall. In a world where digital technology is so accessible and everybody can make dance music an electronic music that is challenging to make and fun to listen to is a refreshing change.

            Circuit Bending has some interesting arguments about its validity that seem to apply to Chiptunes as well. In general experimental art forms should be allowed to do as they wish, but are they progressing the art world in general. Kitz (2004) believes that “one of the characteristics of a musical era in identity crisis is its enthusiasm for the retrospective, for remaking the work of others, and for using existing material in whole cloth but recast as a gimmick” (para.7.3). He continues by using Circuit Bending as an example of something that can easily be lost in gimmickry, as can Chiptunes. However for people to express themselves by choosing to not use a modern technology whether it appears a gimmick or not it is an attempt to try something new with something old. Circuit Bending is definitely an art form more than a musical style, and it achieves this well, however it does lend a lot to process and concept and very little to aesthetics of sound, which after all is what music should be about.

            Of the experimental music genres, concept holds Circuit Bending high above the others in terms of accessibility. Even though the sounds may be very similar to various experimental music genres, the gimmick nature Kitz mentioned is what makes the general public interested.  People of all ages can have a go at Circuit Bending and with festivals like BENT at ‘The Tank’ in New York, people can go learn how to do it and then see performances. The performances are than completely accessible because the audience understands what is going on.

Mike Rosenthal from ‘The Tank’ has this to say on the topic,


We do a lot of experimental music here [The Tank], a lot of laptop music and we wanted something more accessible to the general public. The people that generally come here are interested in electronic music, and the general public see it, they see a person with a laptop they don’t know what’s happening…Circuit Bending opens it up (Garcia, 2004).


As mentioned previously Circuit Bending exists as an accessible experimental art form, however as a musical form to be listened to out of context, it does not work. However in performance Circuit Bending is one of the most interesting experimental musical forms.

            The results of my participant observation seem to all reinforce the previously mentioned ideas as well as revealing some things about myself. Firstly, it is challenging to compose with limited resources, to the point where I actually didn’t. I would limit myself in terms of sound sources, like using simple waveforms, but was still using software like Pro-Tools, which actually seems to defeat the point. The community notices as well, my song got a 2 out of 5 Gameboy review on, and when transferred to the VORC podcast they labelled my song “Chip-Style”(VORC, n.d). This reflects the kind of elitist nature as it is clearly labelled as not being a authentic Chiptune. The performance piece that ran parallel to the paper was composed as mentioned on Nanoloop 2.0 with a Nintendo DS. This created issues as the DS is very modern technology and again I seemed to be using technology too advanced, even though it is limiting. I personally found it hard to break from the consumerist nature of using new technology. Interestingly the performance was very well accepted. The concert series it was in consisted of highly conceptual art and comments from several audience members reveal that my piece was fun, exciting and accessible. This all supports the notion that Chiptunes are an accessible and interesting musical genre.

Final Discussion and Implications

This paper described how technology has created musical genres and sub-cultures. The genres of Chiptunes and Circuit Bending were used to illustrate that point of view. A methodology was conducted involving Internet field research within these subcultures to also answer the question of their validity and accessibility. The two genres were then explained in detail and some elements of the field research discussed. With an informed knowledge of the two genres a discussion of each genres validity and general public acceptance was conducted. All this revealed many interesting points of view. Firstly that Chiptunes can be considered a valid art form due to the creative nature of composing with limitations and it is an accessible music due to its video game connotations. Circuit Bending is a valid experimental art form and is seen as accessible in terms of concept and performance.

            It is interesting to note that Lysloff although spending time studying Chiptunes in a study similar to this paper said the following in an interview "the relative low-tech angle ... wears thin very quickly. It just all sounds rather flaccid… I might even add that it isn't even very good.” (Null, para.11, 2005). I believe a key difference in our research methods was Lysloff was an impartial observer, whilst I actually took part and became part of the culture. Some areas of further research could look into the performance aspect of these lo-fi genres and how it is more accessible to the general public than laptop music. Overall it is clear that technology has influenced the musical world, from performance to composition. With new technology constantly being superseded, I feel it's a good thing that there are people willing to advance old technology themselves to create and control their own future.


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[1] Nanoloop is a music sequencer made for the Gameboy by Oliver Wittchow a member of the Chiptune community; it is unofficially produced using old cartridges and is not endorsed by Nintendo. (Nanoloop, n.d)

[2] For further and future discussion on the definition of Chiptunes see Jakobsson (2005).

[3] For example, 8-bit Betty, 8-bit Construction Set, 8-bit Weapon and 8-bit.

[4] Creative commons is a large Internet idea that promotes sharing of knowledge and fighting against corporate domination of the Internet. It also is interested in protecting intellectual property.