Laptop Studio — Music software reviews, news and info for computer music

19 August 2005

Make music on handheld game consoles

Filed under: Music software at 10:44 am (3 comments)
electroplankton

Modern handheld game consoles are powerful, portable and have pretty good sound capabilities — perfect for making music on the move. There are several ways to make music on these devices– you can work on that killer drum loop on a bus, in a pet shop or while skydiving. Here are a few programs that can help you make music on your portable game console.

The Sony Playstation Portable has PSPKick and PSP Rhythm Composer. PSPKick is a simple drum machine that lets you set up a sequence and play the result or save it to a WAV file. The PSP Rhythm Composer is also just a drum machine, but its interface is based on the Roland TR series drum machines for all you retro freaks out there.

The Game Boy Advance has Nanoloop. “Nanoloop is a synthesizer / sequencer for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance. Stored on a normal game cartridge, it allows to produce nice electronic music without further hardware, using either headphones or an external amplifier (home stereo, active speakers, etc) as sound output.” The interface is minimal, but this is probably appropriate for such a small device. Nanoloop has an 8-voice synth — voices can be a rectangular wave, FM synth or noise. There are filters, envelopes and LFO available. It’s all programmed using an 8-track step sequencer. You can even synchronise up to 4 GBAs together for a group jam session.

Even the plain old Game Boy isn’t left out in the cold — there’s Little Sound Dj: “The basic idea is to transform a plain Game Boy/Game Boy Color into a full-fledged music workstation.” There’s a subtractive synth with resonant filters — you can draw your own waveform! — and an arpeggiator. There are also samples available for drum programming and speech synthesis.

For the Nintendo DS, there’s Nanoloop, which works on this as well as the GBA. There’s also the weird and wonderful Electroplankton. Happy musical plankton bounce around the sea, making harmonious sounds as they move. You can set up their environment to help shape and channel the music they make. There are several different types of plankton, each with different movement and sound characteristics. This is more an interactive fishtank than a music-making tool, but the sounds are lovely and the graphics (as you can see) are simple but beautiful.

So the PSP doesn’t have too much going for it yet — Nintendo users have the better option so far. I’m sure more will be in the works. I could see Sony creating a version of Acid for the PSP — now that would be nice.

3 Comments
  1. [...] Here’s a fantastic interface for remixing a track. The pop group Erasure has put a version of their recent single Don’t Say You Love Me on the web in a remixable form. The interface is quite lovely — it reminds me of the fabulous Electroplankton music game on the Nintendo DS. The track is represented as a tree, with groups of leaves representing musical qualities like Warmth, Emotion, Heartbeats, Tears and so on. Click a leaf in each group to determine how to play each quality — so you can have Emotion “a la folie” and Skin “beaucoup” and change it on the fly as the track plays. Click the bird to randomise the settings and use this as a starting point to make your own mix. [...]

    Beautiful Erasure remix interface on 11 September 2005 at 8:55 pm

  2. [...] Electroplankton, the uncategorizable game/sequencer/oddity for the Nintendo DS, is out now in the US. I wrote about it in a previous article about music on handheld game consoles, but now it’s been released outside Japan there’s a bit more English-language information about. Though some of it does sound as if it’s been translated from the Japanese: “It’s tough to slap a label on Electroplankton. It’s not a game, but you play it on a game device. There’s no set purpose to it, but the end result can sweep you up in its charm. Most of all, its innovation sings out loud and true. “ [...]

    Electroplankton for Nintendo DS on 10 January 2006 at 7:28 pm

  3. [...] Make music On Handheld Game Consoles – Laptop Studio music …The interface is quite lovely — it reminds me of the fabulous Electroplankton music game on the Nintendo DS. Books & magazines; Hardware; Making music; Music reviews; Music software; Web sites … Fetch Document [...]

    Music Making Software Nintendo Ds | Best Beat Making Softwares on 8 July 2013 at 10:14 am

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