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cTrix’ Gatari 2600, the chipmusic “guitar”

January 13, 2012

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m fairly obsessed with the chipmusic genre, although calling it a genre is a bit inaccurate, given the range and scope of the styles of music that are created by the myriad of artists on gameboys, nintendos, vintage computers and other game consoles.   It’s a musical form that is constantly evolving due to the close relationship the creators of chipmusic share with hacking culture.    While many use software designed by others much like a guitar player plays a guitar, but does not MAKE the guitar, there are just as many examples of chipmusicians who code, hack and mod their way into creating their own methods of creating chiptunes.

Recently at the Japanese edition of BLIPFEST, the international festival dedicated to all things chipmusic, Aussie artist cTrix debuted his new creation for the composition and live performance of chipmusic on an Atari 2600.  He called this beast the GATARI 2600.  Essentially it runs custom software enabling him to create his own chipmusic on an Atari 2600.  From there, the Atari was built onto a frame that houses a joystick and various guitar effect pedals; the final result resembling a guitar.  Here’s a video of cTrix explaining the device, including footage of him performing live with the Gatari in Tokyo.

Pretty incredible stuff.   As far as forms of electronic music go, there’s a reason why chipmusic is at the top of my list.  The spirit of play, both in the creation and live performance of the music is deeper than that of other musical genres.  For these creators not only play music, they hack, mod, tweak and play WITH the technologies used to create their compositions.  In an age of increasingly plug and play / proprietary technologies, it’s folk like cTrix who are pulling it apart and rebuilding it for their own means.

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