Stone Oakvalley's Authentic SID Collection


#1

Hi!

So there’s this lovingly created digital download bootleg series of music from old abandonware Commodore 64 games called Stone Oakvalley’s Authentic SID Collection.

I was hoping to add a handful of its game soundtracks into MusicBrainz. But first I wanted to check if this was a good idea, and if so, how to best go about it.

It contains recordings of all the tracks from the High Voltage SID Collection, which is a lot. 49,542 soundtracks, each of which can contain multiple pieces of music.

The closest match I can think of to this is to add Stone Oakvalley’s Authentic SID Collection as a label, each soundtrack as a bootleg Release (using the original Artists, many of whom are already in the database), and each individual piece of music as a Recording. But it’s not really a label, and most of the Recordings don’t have names, only the Releases do.

Does anybody have any opinions or advice on the matter?


#2

I’m not sure about the label, but I think the recordings should have titles like
"Game Title, Tune 1" etc. when there is more than one tune
(it is quite common on remix.kwed.org to use “tune” or “subtune” to identify the different tunes in a SID file).


#3

That sounds more useful than simply using [Untitled] for everything, so if there are no objections, that sounds good to me, thanks!

Hmm, another dimension to this is that Stone Oakvalley’s Authentic SID Collection includes three different recordings of each and every chiptune, performed on different revisions of the chip. Though it’s likely the differences are negligible and wouldn’t necessarily be picked up by AcoustID very often. Perhaps it would be sufficient to consider the Releases to be part of just the High Voltage SID Collection generally, performance agnostic, given the very minor differences?

In a sense, chiptune music seems in between classical (with wildly different interpretations of any one piece of music, from one performance of it to the next) and popular (with generally one official recording of each song).


#4

I’ve tentatively added one example, Rob Hubbard’s Chimera:

This brings up another issue, where to draw the line with what counts as a tune, as opposed to a sound effect… I’ve even more tentatively excluded the two tracks that are a second long each.

If anyone amends this Release, I’ll use that as a template for any others.


#5

There is nothing like a SID file (or Midi file) in MusicBrainz, but the
performance-agnostic representation of a composition is a “work”, which can be related to the recording
(and some works of C64 composers already exist because they were “remixed”/covered multiple times).


#6

Wow, looks like an awesome collection!!!

One option that I’ve used for game rips (that are as faithful to the original medium as possible) is to store the actual game release that contains the music, rather than a bootleg, and add the tracks to that.
Then you can add the games release date, barcode, label, packaging, cover etc faithfully. Otherwise you are very limited in terms of data you should be adding to a bootleg.
Of course nobody can tag a game, they’ll be tagging the rips, but the same can be said for other mediums as well (wax cylinder…)
That’s just my personal approach though.

However a bootleg is fine, and you’ve added it correctly already :slight_smile:

Unless this matches some sort of established MB style, I personally would not start using this.
Unless there’s a good reason to start a new precedent for SID’s? But that data (game title and track number) already exists in the release, and can be put in using a script. I’m not sure if making up new titles is in line with MB’s goals as a database at the moment (try leave things ‘as is’) if the information is available via script.

edit: Perhaps a series or collection would be more appropriate than label.
However if you’re adding them as bootlegs I think label can be appropriate, since that website (person?) ‘releases’ the music?

A lot of if is open for you to decide really (after all, you’re doing the work…) so don’t get discouraged if the discussion starts to get too complicated. You can always just add things. I think it’s mainly important to be consistent, things can always be changed.


#7

You mean the same game music ported for this and that machine (Atari version, Amiga version, C64 version, etc.)?

If that the case, shouldn’t we rather say « game musicwildly different versionsfrom one hardware to the next » or something like that?

Otherwise, I don’t really understand why the fact that a recording is a chiptune would make it have more versions.


#8

So there’s a few subtle things at play here. With a MIDI file, each performance can sound wildly different due to the different timbres, despite having the exact same notation. And with different computers and consoles, the very different chips have very different capabilities, as well as the different ports of the software having different musicians working on them.

This is something else entirely.

If you look at the download options for Stone Oakvalley’s Authentic SID Collection, there’s something far more subtle: different recordings of different revisions of the same chip playing the exact same piece of music. (R2, R4, R5.) The revisions to the chip are supposed to sound identical, but they don’t, not quite. For example, one revision fixed a bug that caused the signal to be biased, that had already been exploited by musicians to reproduce digitised, sampled music by quickly changing the volume. The fix caused samples to be played back quieter relative to the rest of the music.

As this collection is accordingly performed on three different versions of the chip, there are three recordings of each and every piece of music. The differences are so slight, however, that I’m not sure if they’d even be picked up by acoustic fingerprinting.

So far, I’ve ignored all that, but I think a case could be made that each release should be added three times, as ridiculous as that sounds.


#9

The case can be made, but in MB we don’t create a new recording for different mastering:

"A recording represents distinct audio that has been used to produce at least one released track through copying or mastering. A recording itself is never produced solely through copying or mastering."
https://musicbrainz.org/doc/Recording

I think since the artist intent is to just create one track, which is then altered through playback, you should be safe creating just one recording. Seems like enough work :wink:


#10

While these are technically different recordings of different performances, you’re right, I think the above is the main thing there: the artist’s intent is just to have one single version of their track. I’ll go more with the spirit of the law, as it were. Phew, that’s a time saver, thanks!


#11

I think somebody should provide some background information:

Music on the C64 was created by writing a program, which controlled the SID (Sound Interface Device) Chip.
Most musicians on the C64 were composers, arrangers and programmers at once, many wrote their own
music playing routine. Music was sometimes written for games, sometimes for demos and sometimes
standalone. Sometimes this music was a cover.
Often people likes the music from a game so much, that they ripped it, usually by extracting just the part
from the memory, which contained the music playing routine and the music data. This part is usually
enough to play the music on a C64, if you know 1. where in the memory it should be, 2. at which
address the music initialization should be called and 3. at which address the music player routine
should be called at regular intervals (to play the next note, if required).

A SID File contains mainly this part from the memory and some metadata, especially the 3
aforementioned addresses, the title (for games the name of the game), the musician,
release information (who released it and when, for games the company) and the number of tunes.
It is sometimes possible to play different pieces of music or soundeffects by giving a
different tune number to the music initialization part of the player.
This also means, most times there is just a title for the whole thing, not for the individual
tunes. Of course sometimes it is known, which tune was played for which part of a game,
e.g. title music, in-game music, game over music etc. but this information is not contained
in a SID File. The title music is not necessarily tune 1.

A SID File can be played on other computers with a program (e.g. playsid or sidplay),
which emulates all relevant parts of the C64, mainly the CPU and the SID.
There is a big collection of nearly all music, which was ever created for the C64,
the High Voltage Sid Collection (HVSC) at http://hvsc.c64.org
The collection also includes a file, called the Sid Tune Information List (STIL),
which provides some background information about some of the tunes,
e.g. whether some other work was covered by it.

The Stone Oakvalley’s Authentic SID Collection (SOASC) at http://www.6581-8580.com
is a collection of MP3 recordings of all tunes from all of these files on a real C64.
In theory, it should sound nearly the same when the chip is emulated, in practice
there were multiple revisions of the SID chip with little differences and even
multiple SID chips of the same revision had different filter responses (for this reason,
C64 musicians, who wanted their music to be the same on each C64, seldom used filters).
The collection contains each tune played on 3 different revisions of the SID chip.
When a tune was meant to be played in an endless loop on the C64, the
recording ends when the tune would re-start at the beginning.

Some of this music was also covered by other people, sometimes with “real” instruments.
A lot of these covers are available at http://remix.kwed.org (they are called “remixes”,
but only a few of them are based on original recordings, so they are usually no remixes
in the MusicBrainz-meaning of the word).


#12

The filenames of the downloads are e.g.
Chimera_T02.sid_MOS6581R2.mp3
with ID3 metadata:
Title: Chimera (all tunes have this title in the ID3 tag)
Artist: Rob Hubbard
Track Number: 2
Album: Firebird (this was the company which released the game)
Date: 1984 (this was the release date of the game)
Comment: MOS6581R2 www.6581-8580.com

So there are the possibilities to have as track title

  1. [untitled]
    (for all tracks)
  2. Chimera
    (for all tracks)
  3. Chimera, T02
  4. Chimera, Tune 2
  5. Chimera_T02.sid_MOS6581R2

I think 1. is totally unuseable, 2. doesn’t look like a good idea, either (at least the recordings
should have some indication of the tune number), 3. is possibly closest to the filename,
4. is most readable and 5. just looks ugly (and I would use “MOS6581R2” only as
recording or release disambiguation comment, if there are multiple versions in the database).

I agree, that one (SID chip) version of each recording should be enough.

The game publishing company shouldn’t be the release title and the original game release date
is not the correct date for the bootleg release, so don’t copy the ID3 information too closely.


#13

Thank you for explaining the context! You did a far better job than I would have. :slight_smile:


#14

That’s an interesting approach, thank you, but I’m not sure… It would feel to me too much like adding a film instead of the original soundtrack album to that film, if that makes sense… On the one hand, the publisher of the game would be analogous to a record label, and the games often came on compact cassette tapes, so it would look as if that fits well… but on the other hand, it seems a bit misleading, as the compact cassette doesn’t store an audio signal of direct analogue music, but an analogue representation of a digital program used to play music on specialised hardware, which is quite different… and those publishers publish games, not standalone music, so I’d be cluttering up the database with lots of “labels” that really don’t belong there.

Adding them as bootlegs also feels wrong, inasmuch as they’re a labour of love shared amongst fans rather than, say, organised crime with the intent of profit. But it seems a lot closer, involving setting up just one inaccurate label (or simply assigning them as [no label], as I’m tentatively doing so far).

Film wise, the Blade Runner bootleg soundtrack is the best analogy I can think of: it isolates background music in a way you’re not supposed to, in order to turn a different entertainment product with incidental music into an album. The music, uninterrupted by sound effects, isn’t originally available in that form.


#15

Only if you add it as a bootleg/the rip, I suppose so.
If you add it as it exists stored on the official release then it is definitely just one recording.
For instance, I would not call a record that’s been ripped on a different turntable a new recording.

So many different options and pros and cons…

If you are adding the rip, I think ‘Chimera’ would be the way to go, as that’s what it’s called in the ‘release’.
That it’s inconvenient isn’t really our call as a database.

However the case for using an existing convention aka ‘made up name’ is in the guides somewhere (or perhaps just mentioned in previous game rip discussions?) which mentions using the most widely known/ generally accepted title.

I am actually a big fan of using the file name in its entirety, even if it doesn’t look nice, because its unambiguous information.

At the end of the day I think it’s just important to add it in a way that’s true to MBs aims, and to avoid ‘improving’ anything or adding things because that’s how you personally would want to tag them. Everyone has different opinions, and it’s not our call, especially if its something that can be achieved with scripts anyway.


#16

True, but if I had a punched card of music and two different player pianos, and made a separate recording of the same music played on each, those might just sound different enough to warrant both being counted, in my opinion.

But as with that, I can’t see any definitive right or wrong answers here. Counting them as the same makes sense; counting them as different makes sense.


#17

Now that you mention it, deleting my manual efforts and writing a script to automate the process does sound appealing!


#18

In this example I would definitely want to store the punch card in MB, just like I would want to store a record and not a digital recording of its playback on X equipment :blush:

If a further recording of the punch card was extremely notable for some reason (eg custom cover art and widespread availability) I definitely would have no problem adding it, but I would consider that secondary to adding the original.

In this case it seems like people are trying to replicate the original 1:1, and would appreciate the original release date and cover art.

That said, just add it as a bootleg if you prefer, gaps can always be filled in later!


#19

In that case, “Chimera” as track title would probably be the best (or least worse), because everybody,
who wants the tune number included, could add the track number with a tagger script.
But there should be a recording disambiguation comment, e.g. “T02”, “Tune 2” or
"Tune 2, MOS6581R2 version" (if the different versions are added as different recordings).
It’s easy to set those comments with the Userscript “Set recording comments for a release”.

I would not use the filename as title, because it was already generated by changing/removing
some filesystem-incompatible characters from the original title (not in this example, but just
take a look on the first page of the collection).
(And I think more people, who don’t want to modify Picard’s tagging, could live with it,
especially those who download just the title tune of a game).


#20

That’s a very good point, thanks. I guess I should be looking into how to write a script to automate importing the High Voltage SID Collection into MusicBrainz, not Stone Oakvalley’s Authentic SID Collection, which is a set of (widely released) recordings of that collection. HVSC is the music rather than the recordings of the music.