Friday, January 7, 2011

The Musical Equivalent Of MS Paint

In 1992, Mario Paint was released for the Super NES as a showcase for the 'Mouse' peripheral that would then see fairly common use through the rest of the life of the Super NES. The main attraction of the game was, of course, the painting: you got 40 different colors, 60 textures, some stamps, and a couple coloring-book pages if you want them; have fun.

There was also a music composition device. You were given 16 different sounds and a musical scale. It doesn't sound like much, and the default song given doesn't exactly inspire greatness:

Surely, I never came close to making anything decent. Neither did my brother, despite playing the trumpet in middle school. Perhaps it was because of too much time spent making "elephant noises", and as you can plainly see, there is no elephant available on the menu.

But when any sort of creative tool is given to a mass of people who have grown up surrounded by technology, there is always going to be somebody who can take a minimal amount of tools and get maximum value out of them.

A hack of the tool has been made, Mario Paint Composer, which over time has added the ability to further fine-tune the tempo, speed it up way past the high end allowed by the Super NES, and a few other things, including, over time, four new sounds, but has stuck to the spirit of the original tool.

Which means with enough talent, someone can go do this...

...or this...

...or even this, which has got to be the king of Mario Paint compositions, with extra credit for sticking to the original 16 sounds...

I'm still not anything resembling musical. Though I at least now know that music composition isn't supposed to go "Okay, we had an A flat, so now we should have a sharp, let's say F sharp, and then we should have a C to balance it out. What haven't we had in a while? B? Get one of those in; make it a flat." Maybe you can do better.

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