New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

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Spikey
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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by Spikey » Wed Aug 19, 2020 5:38 am

The recordings I'm making will use a single MT-32. I'm trying to record the "authentic experience", recreating what you'd have heard while playing the original game on a single target synth.
To be honest, I don't understand the logic of an 'authentic' experience which is unsatisfactory, i.e. an MT-32 or SC-55 recording which has dropped notes. Surely the objective of an out of game recording is to *remove* such unsatisfactory experiences. SQ5's Main Theme runs out of time in game to play the full piece, and then the Introduction omits the Glockenspiel part to play sound effects. Should we delete 20 seconds off the former, and the Glock part on the latter, to have an 'authentic' experience?

Sierra composers did have daisy chained devices, and quite often they never heard the tracks in game to see how it worked out. Many times, they had moved on to other projects! Pretty sure Rudy Helm was gone from Sierra before QFG3 even launched, and Neal Grandstaff was working at Dynamix (on a MIDI score for RAMA, that was shelved) by the time SQ6 finally shipped.
If there were polyphony issues, it was a *mistake*, not a feature- Rob Atesalp told me the other day he was proud he never had polyphony issues with any of his scores (he painstakingly made sure there weren't, and I'm pretty sure he's right). Same goes for distortion in games like Colonel's Bequest and KQ4.

One I forgot when mentioning specific devices- QFG4 was likely composed for a SC-55mkII, and runs out of notes in a few places on an original SC-55. There are only isolated examples in other games (perhaps one in GK1).

The Sierra MT-32 scores with polyphony issues I can remember are LSL3 (eg Bambi), LSL5 (eg Closing Theme), PQ3 (eg Closing Theme). I haven't played with real hardware for a LONG time though, so I'm sure I've forgotten several.

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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by Marten » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:41 pm

Because some people want to hear the music as they remember it. Like this guy: https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?p=292996#p292996
marooned_on_mars wrote:"Quest Studios tampered with the music in some cases and it doesn't sound like in the game, and I want to make accurate recordings that sound exactly how they were supposed to."
Now, we can all quibble about those last few words. We know that how things sounded in the game WASN'T always "how they were supposed to". But that misunderstanding doesn't diminish the point that marooned_on_mars was attempting to make. Some people don't want "better" or "corrected". They want it to be how it was. They want Han Solo to shoot first. ;)

I invite you and others to work on corrected recordings simultaneously. I would love for us to have both "As you heard it" and "As it was intended" versions, that would be the best outcome for everyone. Sure, it's more work. But trust me. It will be worth it.

Edit For what it's worth - there are muddier scenarios, such as the fiasco that is Sorcerian's soundtrack which plays incorrect music tracks, as you yourself mentioned in this thread on VOGONS back in 2012. :D I will concede in such cases, what was delivered to gamers was just plain WRONG. So, I'm applying tikalat's fixes in that thread for Sorcerian. Other fixes in that thread... again, in addition to my work on "As you heard it", I would be interested in an "As it was intended" with fixes from that site. I really am going to have to go through that thread, save EVERYTHING, organize it and put it on a webpage with links back to VOGONS for credit, because that stuff is AWESOME and it deserves to be more find-able than buried in a forum thread.

Back on the topic of "which synth for which game", I've updated the table in my earlier post with the info Spikey provided. I'd certainly like to see the list on the VOGONS forum and better understand the research that went into it. You'll note that (for now) I've marked some items in the list as "Tom v. Spikey", so to speak. This simply reflects that when Tom recorded his enhanced soundtracks for these games, he labelled them as "Recorded from Sound Canvas with MT-32 enhancements", rather than the other way around, which suggests to me that he was under the impression that the SC soundtrack was overall superior except for a few instrument choices. I know that's not the same as thinking that the SC was the initial target for composition, but it was a starting point for the list.

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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by Spikey » Thu Aug 20, 2020 2:29 am

"Quest Studios tampered with the music in some cases and it doesn't sound like in the game, and I want to make accurate recordings that sound exactly how they were supposed to."
I'm fairly sure what this guy meant is with regards to enhanced soundtracks, or maybe edited soundtracks. As in, he wants a MT-32 only recording versus a mixed or "enhanced" recording.
He surely doesn't mean "I wish I heard less music or missing notes"! I would think cutting parts of a music track to make it like in game is the opposite of what Tom or I would do with scores.

As for which synth for which game, my comments weren't my opinions, they are facts in this case. PQ1VGA, QFG1VGA and Laura Bow 2 all have *only* MT-32 soundtrack resources in them. The game converts them to GM on the fly based on a 4.pat file in the game's resources. You can see this in scenarios where the MT-32 track is converted sub optimally, such as PQ1VGA, "Marie Wilkans", or QFG1VGA, "Erasmus". The exact same setup is used in the "aftermarket" GM games, like SQ4, EQ1, Longbow, and others.

Later General MIDI games contain both General MIDI and MT-32 resources, usually both the same, but occasionally fixes for the MT-32 score where playing the GM score would cause issues.

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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by Spikey » Sat Aug 22, 2020 1:56 am

For more information, here's an excerpt I posted on the Sierra Music Facebook group:

Basically, even though the 4 MT-32 listed games (PQ1VGA, SQ4, LB2, QFG1VGA) have General MIDI drivers, and are recorded on the internet from GM in a few places, they are MT-32 games. They do not contain GM resources and, like the GM aftermarket drivers (exactly the same in fact), they simply remap the MT-32 MIDI files to be compatible with your Roland SC-55/GM device, which works mostly well, but poorly in some games with custom instruments (eg PQ1VGA).
If you're interested in going deeper in this topic, please refer to a document I wrote, and updated by a member of the Vogons forums:
http://www.sierramusiccentral.com/Misc/SierraGames.pdf

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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by Marten » Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:55 pm

Very nice! I need to look over that and digest it a bit.

Surprised not to see The Black Cauldron, Thexder, or Gold Rush! in the Tandy/PCjr list. I think all of the Disney character games also supported Tandy/PCJr but I haven't fact-checked that.

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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by Spikey » Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:36 am

I don't know much about anything that isn't MIDI, so I may not even have done the Tandy part of the list, that may have been added after. I just focus on MT-32 and SC-55 games. :)

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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by Marten » Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:24 pm

I have updated the list of 1991/1992 games and target synths, incorporating the research Spikey has provided.

I also uncovered that the 1992 release of Shadow of Yserbius (listed as an "unknown" in Spikey's list) was an "offline port" of the "The Sierra Network" release from the previous year, strongly implicating it to have been composed for MT-32 based on what we know about 1991 releases.

Like Spikey, I have to draw some limits around the scope of this project. Though I may list titles like "Front Page Sports Football", that doesn't mean I'm really interested in hunting them down and recording them. I'm really interested in Sierra's adventure games and certain arcade/RPG titles. So, certain titles being an "unknown" aren't an impediment to me, but I'll gladly update my list if someone offers information on them.

In another topic, Spikey wrote regarding The Dagger of Amon Ra:
Spikey wrote:I recorded the MT-32 version for this site back in 2004 (?) ... Still want to record it digitally some day.
That one is not too far down my list and I'll probably work on it alongside "the big one" I'm working on, just as a way to maintain some posting momentum.

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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by Spikey » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:13 pm

Aubrey Hodges confirmed today Yserbius was originally composed for MT-32, as all games first included with INN were. He said the standalone release may be different, but probably not.
Like Spikey, I have to draw some limits around the scope of this project. Though I may list titles like "Front Page Sports Football", that doesn't mean I'm really interested in hunting them down and recording them. I'm really interested in Sierra's adventure games and certain arcade/RPG titles. So, certain titles being an "unknown" aren't an impediment to me, but I'll gladly update my list if someone offers information on them.
Funnily enough, I'm working on a project where I'm trying to cover a wide array of Sierra's games. Like Tom's "Sierra Soundtracks Volume" series (and my own take on it), but this will cover more games, almost all of them, will at least be considered for inclusion. So I recently acquired a lot of games I'd never played, some I hadn't even heard of before, to get more knowledgeable about such titles as Front Page Sports. I'll fill you in as I find out more.

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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by Marten » Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:16 am

Double Whammy tonight!

Now available at the link for New Lossless Recordings: The Colonel's Bequest and Zeliard.

This recording of The Colonel's Bequest re-orders and re-names some tracks for a (hopefully) superior listening experience, one more in line with the order you might have first heard these songs when playing back in 1989. Let me know what you think.

Thanks to Spikey, this recording of Zeliard includes two tracks not present in the MIDI recordings from Quest Studios. Also, track names and track order have been corrected to match translations and presentation from the original PC-88 version's song mode.

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Re: New lossless FLAC recordings of MIDI soundtracks

Post by rwtodd » Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:42 pm

Hi, I really appreciate all the work you are putting into getting FLACs of the soundtracks. While the Colonel's Bequest MIDI is excellent, I always miss hearing the death harp sounds (when Laura turns into an angel for a few of her deaths), and the "Mr. Ed" theme-song easter egg (ask the horse about wilbur). I have MIDI files for these two events and a few years ago I also recorded (via munt emulation) FLACs of them if you want them. They are minor but I'm kind of a Colonel's Bequest fan so I like to have them--didn't know if anyone else would.

For Halloween I also recently extracted the Phantasmagoria 2 soundtracks (which were 22050Hz WAV files in the resources, not MIDI), and converted them to FLACs. I know the focus here is on MIDI stuff but I thought I'd mention it in case you were interested.

Currently (also for Halloween) I'm digging through Phantasmagoria 1 resources to pull out the MIDI portion of the soundtrack (already extracted the WAV portions).

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