SID vs MIDI

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Good idea to pipe SID tunes to more sophisticated outboard synths?

Yes, lovely to get that variety
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70%
No, I'm a purist
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30%
Pretty much only if the synths are similar in sonics to the SID
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Total votes: 10

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SID vs MIDI

Post by Commie_User » 24/07/2011 - 1:58

Last time I asked whether the sound of the SID was as well served in stereo as mono. Now let's take on the MIDI angle.

It's easy to integrate the Commodore 64 into a modern studio with MIDI, particularly when used to play the computer as a realtime MIDI synth. But how well are existing SID compositions served by arranging them for unintended instruments? And can we learn anything from that?


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The top-ranking Commodore 64 Orchestra certainly set the high watermark, with Rob Hubbard's game tunes specially arranged for a full band. Many rock covers have also been improvised and sophisticated re-workings have been recorded using top-flight keyboards, aiding musical appreciation of genuinely innovative compositions.


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You could say these have been made in controlled environments for serious listening. But is the conversion of SID files to MIDI opening up new possibilities and perspectives? Or is it a dilettante's step too far, as any old combination of organs, samples and keyboards can get pulled together to render old classics in potentially bizarre forms?

Or are you sick of these questions now?

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Previously: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8034

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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by LMan » 24/07/2011 - 13:44

Sid2Midi is a very useful tool to import the basic melodies into a remix project. Simply replacing the instruments doesn't to the trick though. Transcribing the melodies "by ear" can be a very educating exercise, too.

Purism as an experience alongside others can be wonderful. Total purism on the other hand is for the narrow-minded.
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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by Razmo » 24/07/2011 - 14:13

I agree with LMAN... just changing the instrumentation to a converted SID into MIDI is not enough, and many of those remixes is actually easily telltaled because it sounds sterile and monotone if you do this... You have to make touch-up on the MIDI files with lots of controllers and stuff to make it alive.

But it's a great help, since some tunes can be very complicated to replicate by hand on a keyboard, and for that it's brilliant... other aspects are, that many tunes use ringmodulation and waveform synchronization for weird synth patterns (Hubbard comes to mind), and if you want to recreate this with other hardware synths, you have to know the pitches of the tracks synced og ringmod'ed on the SID tune, and here SID to MIDI again is a good piece of equipment for doing this... finding these notes listening to the ringmoded og synced sounds of the SID is virtualy impossible.

Personaly I prefer to be able to actualy PLAY the tunes live on keyboard... it takes time, but it's really worth the effort since live playing is much more natural sounding with velocity sensitivity, and modulations... something you'll NEVER get at by programming with a mouse etc. I'd use SID2MIDI solely for learning and analyzing something I cannot hear by ear...
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by Razmo » 24/07/2011 - 14:19

And NO!... I'm not tired of your questions... in fact I think that this type of questions are exactly what this forum is about, and what the forum needs more of... more questions, more action.... keep it up! :)
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by Analog-X64 » 24/07/2011 - 17:52

I'd like to one day remix Legend of Kage by Fred Gray but there are quite a few fast parts in there, that I think I will need to use Sid2Midi to see what the notes are being played.
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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by poke16384 » 24/07/2011 - 18:28

I think that having the ability to revisit the '3-voice' tunes from the mid 80's and remix, redo, re-arrange them is all good! On one level, It's like being able to add colour and texture to a black &
white sketch. Whether you were a composer or a listener back then, (or now) doesn't matter either. With the musical tools we have now, the means to create a masterpiece is at the fingertips of
everyone.

The only missing ingredient is talent! No different than the 80's. There were masterpieces and horrific tunes back then and it's no different now. What you add is up to you.

If you do nothing more than take the 'SID2MIDI' dump and add your own sounds then you will be found out by the rest - It's a great way to learn and de-cypher the arrangement but you shouldn't be
tempted to call it a 'Remix'.

For me, nothing has changed since the 80's. It was about the arrangement first and foremost and then the sounds and waves second, (although, there are lots of times when the waveform shapes the way
you play or program the tune). The beautiful thing about having all the sampling, synthesis and processing power that we have now, is that you can put all those other bits in that either:
A). You hear in your head when you listen to the SID track - or B). You wanted to put in back then but couldn't because there wasn't another voice or wasn't enough memory, (8K total including the play
routine normally). But.........

Everybody that wants to try their hand at music should absolutely DO IT! and if it's a remix of your favourite SID tune that creates enough passion to get you through that first time then that's what
you should do, exactly the way you want it, with no regard for what anyone else says good or bad. No point in giving up half way because you run out of passion or someone says it's not good enough.

Music isn't a science! So, logically there are no rights and wrongs, only how it feels and sounds to us. Question?... If we give a particular remix the big green face, is it because it's bad or is it because
we're applying scientific rules to art?

In the end, History will be the judge! Just as it has been regarding the SID tunes from the 80's. (ooh! that was deep.)

I say freedom of musical expression to all - whether you're a musician, a programmer, a sound engineer or a combination of the three - just do it!

....and I'm with Razmo too! Good questions promote healthy debate, exactly what the forums need.
It's all about the notes, where you put 'em, what you do with 'em and how long they last

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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by Commie_User » 25/07/2011 - 0:30

Thanks for the encouragement. I've certainly enjoyed my own rudimentary experiments and just wondered what others thought.



Earlier on I piped some converted SIDs to a Roland JD800, Sound Blaster Live, Halion with a Hammond vibrato sample in C and Juno 6 emulator. I found that relatively few SIDs sound as at-home on foreign instruments. As is said, the top tunes were both composed and programmed with the C64 in mind.

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A short Elite loader sounded well enough, though Prince Clumsy sounded absolutely abysmal no matter what the synth. In terms of technical sophistication, I tried others in between. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Sound Blaster contained sounds more akin to the SID due to its domestic-level period technology.



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Two inbuilt synth chips, sampler, digital I/O, onboard effects, surround compatibility, the guarantee to work with most games and plenty more, for £150. Even with all those impressive points behind it, nobody wants to use one 12 years on. But it's still handy for MIDI and contains many superb sounds, including realistic organ and percussion presets.




One thing I also found is that vibrato and other effects can still be retained in the converted MIDI. I see no reason why certain special effects can't be copied and adjusted for use in your own work. Change the chord, separate the notes and alter the values further. Similarly, I've enjoyed playing around with some of my own C64 samples: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7774


There's plenty of scope.

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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by SarahKreuz31 » 25/07/2011 - 4:56

Haven`t expected any Vote for "No,I`m a purist" - since this is a Remix-Site. It`s like the argue "I don`t like Videogames" if you`re visiting a pure Gaming Site. XD
Everybody that wants to try their hand at music should absolutely DO IT! and if it's a remix of your favourite SID tune that creates enough passion to get you through that first time then that's what
you should do, exactly the way you want it, with no regard for what anyone else says good or bad. No point in giving up half way because you run out of passion or someone says it's not good enough.
Well said. Even the worst one can be fu**** entertaining, on their own strange way. :nod: I prefer a Remix that is SO bad that it just make me wanna puke than the 08/15-one (nice...but...nothing special - so average that you almost forgot it a Minute later - if ya know what I mean...). That`s why I think Remix-Sites like OCR aren`t made for me. There shouldn`t be anyone who judge in first what has to be released for their Site and what not - I heard that they`re expecting only a "good" Remix. Though it`s kinda difficult to tell what exactly is "good" (`cause it`s all a matter of taste in the end)
I know that RKO and Amigaremix are doing the same. Though OCR are far more stricter (some Amiga Remixes from a friend of mine didn`t make it on their Page - but Amigaremix.com didn`t got any problem to release them)

Haven`t used sid2midi so far. But at least some "real" Midi-Files to get a feeling of the Original. But I`ll definitive check it out some day if this Tool is useful.

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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by merman » 25/07/2011 - 8:19

I'm no good at playing by ear/learning notes by listening to them, so SID2MIDI is invaluable. Of course, it doesn't always work - my idea of doing an "I Predict A Pumpkin" remix of Cauldron vs the Kaiser Chiefs failed when SID2MIDI gave me nothing...
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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by Chris Abbott » 25/07/2011 - 8:44

Back in the day, I probably used SID2MIDI more than anyone, but you have to pay attention to the options. I don't know if it's true in the latest builds, but the pitch-bend sensitivity on the outputted MIDI files was always 96 semitones: which the AWE32 could support, but which nothing else could: however, a sensitivity of 96 was the only setting that could capture all the pitch bend information relating to vibrato, and especially some of the Rob's patented slides (such as in Crazy Comets and Monty on the Run). The challenge, especially when I was doing the ringtones, was to fit a 96 semitone pitch bend slide into a 12 semitone range!

Essentially what I did was to first identify the areas where the pitch bend sensitivity went out of range, then break into the slide, and put one new note to re-root the slide: then I'd move the pitch bend commands down multiples of 1024 until it sounded the same. Sometimes you need a two octave range on a one-octave sensitivity maximum, so as long as you were only going in one direction, you'd pull the pitch-bend to the top or bottom of the range, and slide up 24 semitones from there.

Eventually you would end up with a MIDI file which contained ranges of only between -2048 and 2048, or -1024 and 1024, at which point you'd switch the pitch bend sensitivity down and interpolate the notes: for instance, in Sonar, it would change a range of -2048 to +2048 to -8192 to 8191.

This is how I managed to create a MIDI file of the lead of Crazy Comets for Ringtone that keeps all of Rob's effects but can work on any GM synth.

It's also why much SID2MIDI work sounds flat, with many of them simply missing the appropriate pitch bends (like on Last Ninja Wastelands, for instance).

For Sidologie, I also managed to shoehorn in the entire Knucklebusters lead into a +24/24 pitch bend range for Marcel to slap in: that goes all OVER the place.

Also, did anyone notice that SID2MIDI has a TXT output option that shows you what the registers are doing? I once wrote an Access database to process that output: once you can see what waveforms are being used, what SFX are being put on, what the ADSR is doing, and what the pulse-width and filter are doing, you can pretty much recreate the patch by hand.

Later on I'd also spend a lot of time altering the timing, dynamics and velocity information and expression controller to make the piece sounds more interesting.

I guess in answer to the actual question: once you get the pitch bends suitably outrageous, Sid2MIDI output sounds good on pretty much any synth waveform.

Chris
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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by Analog-X64 » 26/07/2011 - 0:13

poke16384 wrote: A). You hear in your head when you listen to the SID track - or B). You wanted to put in back then but couldn't because there wasn't another voice or wasn't enough memory, (8K total including the play
routine normally). But.........
There is one particular tune that I want to take a stab at remixing and in my head I can hear this epic sounding thing that can become of it. Problem is, manipulating the hardware/software to make it sound like what I'm hearing in my head.
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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by poke16384 » 26/07/2011 - 5:42

Analog-X64 wrote:There is one particular tune that I want to take a stab at remixing and in my head I can hear this epic sounding thing that can become of it. Problem is, manipulating the hardware/software to make it sound like what I'm hearing in my head.
That is the thing though, isn't it? Taking what you hear in your head and turning it into something you hear with your ears and hopefully feel with your heart too :)

Don't be put off though. Mess with it and play with it. Find a root sound that gives you some of the feel of your 'epic' and then build it, one instrument/voice at a time. You will nail it in the end.

Have we had a thread yet about what people use to create their music? (we musta done!!) Have we?

If not then we should - 'Commie's' next burning question? :)

Personally, I think you've got to be absolutely 'at home' with the set up you use, hardware & software. Who uses a block based tracker? Who uses full sequencers and MIDI? How much live playing?
How much sequencing?

Anyone wanna start that one off? I will if nobody else does.
It's all about the notes, where you put 'em, what you do with 'em and how long they last

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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by Razmo » 26/07/2011 - 9:43

poke16384 wrote:
Analog-X64 wrote:There is one particular tune that I want to take a stab at remixing and in my head I can hear this epic sounding thing that can become of it. Problem is, manipulating the hardware/software to make it sound like what I'm hearing in my head.
That is the thing though, isn't it? Taking what you hear in your head and turning it into something you hear with your ears and hopefully feel with your heart too :)

Don't be put off though. Mess with it and play with it. Find a root sound that gives you some of the feel of your 'epic' and then build it, one instrument/voice at a time. You will nail it in the end.

Have we had a thread yet about what people use to create their music? (we musta done!!) Have we?

If not then we should - 'Commie's' next burning question? :)

Personally, I think you've got to be absolutely 'at home' with the set up you use, hardware & software. Who uses a block based tracker? Who uses full sequencers and MIDI? How much live playing?
How much sequencing?

Anyone wanna start that one off? I will if nobody else does.
I think you should make that thread :) ... I'd join the discussion that's for sure... and if you don't I will :lol: ...later...
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by poke16384 » 26/07/2011 - 13:54

OK the new thread is up! I called it 'How do YOU make your music?' and it's in W.I.P. - Remix Suggestions & Musician's Talk

I'll make a proper submission to it later when I have a bit more time

New Thread is here - viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8067
Last edited by poke16384 on 26/07/2011 - 17:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SID vs MIDI

Post by Commie_User » 26/07/2011 - 15:28

I am so there Pokey old chum: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8067#p87938

Interesting to see if any ideas can bounce off each other. I use all I can to expand my capabilities - easy software, sheet music examination (when the MIDI version is on the piano roll screen to notice the shapes of the pretty patterns), making noises, having dreams. I wonder how more disciplined composers here do it.

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