Writing a Short Chiptune Song

December 5, 2017

When I made the demo game for Gate, I wanted to have a simple song that went along with it. However, since I was putting the game, and thus the song, in source control on github, the song would need to take as little memory as possible. I took this as a challenge: write a short, looping song for a video game that doesn't become annoying. Here's what I came up with:

(This is an OGG file and should be playable from Firefox and Chrome.) The song is a grand total of 11 seconds long and 64.2 kilobytes, a quite managable size.

While I was coming up with this song, I tried to think of other songs that might not be annoying if played in a short loop. I thought of the games worked on by my favorite video game composer, David Wise. That led me to consider the beginning of the bonus theme from Donkey Kong Country (though there were multiple composers on this game and I'm not sure which wrote this particular song). It has a simple chord progression: I, V, vi, IV, I, V, IV to V, I. I decided to use the same chord progression, though the notes are different and my song actually sounds quite different than what it was inspired from. I used two chiptune instruments, which went with the game's retro feel (also because I was having trouble finding a marimba in FL Studio, but maybe that's for the best). There is some percussion, but it's very soft and you may only notice it subconciously. Overall, it was a quick song to write and I'm very pleased with the results. I may try to hone my skills at writing chiptune music in the future.