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This was an exercise I was doing in transcribing music from sheet music - in this case, the first Gymnopédies from Erik Satie's 3 Gymnopédies - and it actually turned out to contain a really interesting little technical challenge.

The thing about Gymnopédies 1 from a PICO-8 perspective is that there are simply too many voices in the harmony to contain in four channels. So, obviously, arpeggios.

...but also, Gymnopédies 1 is a very calm piece of music - tormented (one is instructed to play this "Lent et douloureux", or roughly "slow and painful" in English), but emotionally quiet. The plodding beat of the piece is the low bass note on the downbeat, not the middle chords between them, and launching directly at full volume into an arpeggio is far too dramatic and disruptive. So the question becomes: how do you simultaneously fade in and out an arpeggio while arpeggiating?

Which, I mean, custom SFX instruments, of course. But I actually accidentally played myself initially, because the first thing I always do looking at a piece of sheet music is ask, "how large can I make the subdivisions?", and the piece is entirely in quarter notes, so I made my subdivision a quarter note. And if each measure of 3/4 is three lines, then I can't use arpeggios in the music SFX because they overlap - I have to use arpeggios in the custom SFX instruments.

...and there are more distinct chords in the piece than I have custom SFX instrument slots. So I have to compromise. And I can't do much shaping of the notes, because I don't have any subdivisions within them. It functioned, but I was not happy.

This version makes each line an eighth note. Because each line is an eighth note, each block of two quarter notes where I want my arpeggios lands either on the border between two four-line blocks containing no other notes or in a four-line block by itself...

...and therefore I can build my arpeggios directly in PICO-8 and let custom SFX instruments handle the fade-in and fade-out. I have six custom SFX instruments and all the arps are, very nearly, the exact notes in the score.

And I can do more shaping of the other notes, because they cover twice as many lines.

There's more polish I could and probably should do of this - I have twenty-five empty SFX to work with - but I'm happy with it. It was a really good exercise.

P#102309 2021-12-10 17:14

I'm new here so maybe this should be obvious how to get sound, but I don't hear anything from the Gymnopedies. No sound.

P#102319 2021-12-10 19:09 ( Edited 2021-12-10 19:10)

Very nice rendition, @packbat. Gold star to hang on your piano.

P#102320 2021-12-10 19:40 ( Edited 2021-12-10 23:41)

Beautifully done!

P#102330 2021-12-10 21:50

@dw817 @dredds Thanks, y'all!

@DaGrub Are you using the web player or pasting the data into PICO-8? I know the web player doesn't work for me on mobile and pasting into PICO-8 doesn't work for me when music uses custom SFX instruments, so either of those could result in silence.

I could upload a barebones PICO-8 cart png? Here's a barebones PICO-8 cart png.

P#102336 2021-12-10 22:40

Nice arrangement of it! (The web player works on mobile, for me.) I want to listen to it some more and understand your whole explanation :)

P#102368 2021-12-11 03:48

@touk Glad you enjoyed it! I will say that "mobile" in my case is iOS Safari on an iPhone 6, so it might not be surprising that some things don't work - it still works for what I need, though, so I want to keep it running.

Let me know if you have questions about the explanation that could use clarifying - or about the arrangement generally, if you like.

P#102393 2021-12-11 12:48

@packbat It doesn't seem to work in Safari on iPhone or Mac, but I was able to load the cart. Thanks for sharing! One of my favorite songs. Would be interesting to see how it sounds with the arpeggiated chords being held longer. Good work!

P#102594 2021-12-13 18:19

@DaGrub Thanks! I think holding the arpeggios longer would require a(nother) full rewrite. which I'm not gonna do, but that's an interesting thought.

And that's surprising with regard to Safari on Mac - I wonder what the deal is there, and if it's the same factor in both cases.

P#102612 2021-12-13 20:15

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