So a few years ago I decided to start actually learning Music Theory.
I've always been around music. Much of my family while I was growing up were in bands. My mom had learned to harmonize with her sisters and taught me to harmonize with her. I'd fucked around with a few instruments we had around the house, but never really learned much beyond like "Here's a scale, here's how you make a major triad, and here's a minor triad"
The thing that kinda got me going though was thinking about the fact that on the NES you only really had three voices total. Like you could do exactly one triad and that was it.
So how the shit does that work?
Recently I also decided to get back into NES dev and try actually making a game for once. I have a vague idea for Dragon Quest inspired stuff. One of the things I wanted to do for both that and music theory in general is go through and try to transcribe DQ music by ear, and then analyze it from a music theoretical viewpoint.
One nice thing about NES music is that you can load it up in an NSF player and isolate it channel by channel to make it easier when you're starting out.
So I recently sat down and worked out (most of) the overworld theme from DQ1. (I eventually looked up some of it because I was struggling a bit.)
Imagine my surprise when I realize that this song doesn't even make full use of the NES audio hardware.
It's only using *two* channels at a time.
Like, yeah, I know a bit more now, I've done some musical analysis and counterpoint as homework, so I definitely have a better ability to understand the structure here, but wow.
This iconic song and it was literally just a square wave and a triangle wave. 8 bars at 112BPM and repeat.