(Originally posted on Blogspot on Sunday, May 1, 2011)

Alright, so it turns out I have a few 8-bit tracks on stockpile. Phew! So I was able to release this April’s second 8-bit remix (a day late… I know…) This one is a short, easy one – but it has a unique element to it, especially for a Nintendo track!

Yup! It’s Mario 64’s Endless Staircase music, a personal favourite ever since I was a kid! It’s interesting because it uses the Shepard’s scale.

From wikipedia:

“…named after Roger Shepard, is a sound consisting of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves. When played with the base pitch of the tone moving upwards or downwards, it is referred to as the Shepard scale. This creates the auditory illusion of a tone that continually ascends or descends in pitch, yet which ultimately seems to get no higher or lower.”

In lament’s terms, the same notes are played an octave apart, with the higher set of notes fading out, and the lower set of notes fading in (repeating forever). This gives the illusion that the music is forever ascending (much like trying to walk up an endless looping staircase!)

In order to achieve this effect in 8-bit, a feat I was curious if even possible, I needed two of the exact same sound. Lucky for me, the NES has two square channels! I programed the sequence in Square 1 and slowly adjusted the volume to fade in from the bottom and fade out at the top. I pasted a duplicate of this pattern in Square 2 at the half way point. IT WORKED! With this done, all I needed to program was the string part – I simply used the triangle channel for this. Nice.

Enjoy! Comments always welcome!

(Oh, and I do have a remix for April. It’s not the track I intended to release, but instead, it’s a remix I did for Imogen Heap’s ‘Song That Never Was’ a while back. Expect that tonight or tomorrow!)