Thursday, April 13, 2006

Micro sequencing in synthcart via gamepad

Today I have been using an old Megadrive programmable gamepad to record short button sequences as data to use as a control mechanism for Atari 2600 music via Paul Slocum's Synthcart. You can hear one result here (MP3, 128kbps mono, 120kb). This sample is played back at one quarter the original speed and pitch, but has not been changed besides that.

Unfortunately, only the B and C buttons of the Megadrive controller really trigger notes on the Atari 2600. The programmable joypad can have a total of two banks of three sequences, where each sequence can contain up to four different button presses. In addition to this, autofire can be enabled (the interesting result of which is heard as one element of the rhythm in the MP3 sample). Also, certain directions on the d-pad in combination with autofire and the B and C buttons seems to unreliably change certain notes in the arpeggio-like sequence.

There is something fascinating about using a 3rd party controller made for a 16 bit machine in the early nineties on another machine almost twice its age running software released last year to make music with.