Geek Trivia

8-bit Music Compositions, Popularized By Video Games, Are Called What?

Since The 1980s Japanese Farmers Have Been Growing What Peculiar Crop?

Answer: Chiptunes

While many of us have experiences with 8-bit music limited to 1980s video and arcade game systems, the genre of music is alive and well. Chiptune composers use everything from emulations of old hardware to the old hardware itself to produce synthesized music. This music is heavily influenced both by video game culture of the 1970s and 1980s as well as early experiments in electronic music of that era.

The earliest album composed entirely in the 8-bit Chiptune genre was the product of the First Philadelphia Computer Music Festival and was released by Creative Computing in 1979. The genre peaked in popularity in the 1980s but had fallen out of favor by the 1990s. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the genre resurfaced.

Emulation of old hardware and the proliferation of DIY web sites explaining how to hack old hardware and incorporate it into modern music setups lead to a resurgence of interest in the genre. Now, a simple search for Chiptunes and 8-bit music reveals hundreds of albums including releases backed by major record labels (such as 8-Bit Operators: The Music Of Kraftwerk Performed On 8-Bit Video Game Systems, an album with a lengthy name and an impressive number of singles that ended up on the dance charts). So while the genre certainly isn’t at risk of getting overplayed on the top-40 stations, it’s never been easier to search for an enjoy 8-bit Chiptunes.