Chris Abbott talks about the 8-Bit Symphony Concert
Chris Abbott tells us about the excellent 8-bit-themed concert he has planned
on the 15 June 2019 Hull City Hall will play host to the Hull Symphony Orchestra, in association with Hull College, performing orchestral renditions of classic 8-bit music. C64audio.com’s Chris Abbott has long dreamed of this day, and tickets are now on sale.
The concert was originally a stretch goal of the Symphony 64 and Project Hubbard Kickstarters, are you glad to be going ahead? Very glad. In the end, the reach of those Kickstarters wasn’t big enough, but it was probably for the best, since it gave us extra time to prepare. What is the significance of Hull as the venue?
Hull has a great orchestra! And a
C64 pedigree as Rob Hubbard’s birthplace. The concert is supported by Hull College as part of its role to champion the city’s talent and showcase the opportunities for people interested in working in the city’s growing digital sector.
I met the college’s CEO, Michelle Swithenbank, after the college persuaded Rob to write the music for a mobile game they released to promote their digital courses. The idea for Hull as a venue for 8-bit Symphony snowballed from there. The concert was ready to be activated, and Hull College were looking to make a positive impact on the community and the city. And they did.
Have the original composers been involved in the process?
Rob Hubbard is the musical director. He’s the QA for the scores, as well as an arranger. Mark Cooksey did a great arrangement of Ghosts ‘N Goblins. Ben Daglish was involved with coarrangements. He was going to conduct, but sadly that’s not to be. Was it difficult selecting the final tracks?
There was so much potential material. The programme is a mixture of scores that were furthest along, scores to honour composers in attendance, and tributes to composers we’ve lost. Plus iconic tunes that C64 fans demand!
What has been the biggest challenge in taking three-channel SID music made for computers to the size of an orchestra?
It’s all challenges! While it’s possible to convert a SID to a MIDI file and then bring it into a score package and make it sound orchestral, making it interesting for the orchestra, tidy, and playable live is much tougher.
Chipmusic was often optimised for memory usage, which meant lots of repetition. That works great on the computer, but when you ask a human to play the same four notes over and over again for five minutes… that’s not good. This is especially true for basslines.
Also, an orchestra can’t play loud through the entire piece, and I’m not sure the audience would like them to. So there have to be loud bits, and
Conductor Robin Tait, Andrew Penny of Hull Philharmonic Orchestra, Chris Abbott, Rob Hubbard, and Michelle Swithenbank (CEO and Principal, Hull College Group).
Thing On A Spring takes time out from platforming to try its hand at some composing.