Marathon 1 Roland SC-55 General MIDI Project

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Marathon 1 Roland SC-55 General MIDI Project

Post Jun 4th '14, 04:28

Hello there Pfhorums community, I am a new user, SpooferJahk and have been into Marathon for quite some time now and I thought I would share a project I am working on for Aleph One that may interest some here. One thing that's always intrigued me about the first Marathon game was the music and low and behold, I found that it was all MIDI based and required a specific version of Quicktime to play properly on a Mac machine. The MIDI files themselves do not play properly on anything outside of the specific Quicktime version and this is where my project comes in, I have went through and fixed the MIDI files to play back as close to the original versions as possible under any MIDI sound setup.

The pack I am working on specifically contains recordings fine tuned for the Roland SC-55 Sound Canvas module, which was the standard for MIDI based music in the nineties for DOS games. I thought it would be interesting to create a Marathon music pack to emulate the hypothetical experience of playing the original game if it were a DOS/early Windows title as opposed to a Macintosh exclusive.

Here is a link to a recording of the track, Landing, with the original Quicktime recording played first, the original MIDI file played on the Roland SC-55, and my custom fixed MIDI played on the same Roland unit:

http://www.mediafire.com/download/epkx3p88thw9lm9/Landing+Comparison.mp3

UPDATE: The project is finished, here are the links for the various assets of it.
Tweaked MIDI Files: http://www.mediafire.com/download/cantahf99aahgb0/Marathon+%28Tweaked+GM+Edits%29.zip
Roland SC-55 Aleph One Pack: http://www.mediafire.com/download/fkh6pdup4jxt08k/Marathon+Roland+SC-55+Music+Addon.zip
Roland SC-55 WAV Files: http://www.mediafire.com/download/phb9uqp9qv2dnb9/Marathon+SC-55+Soundtrack.zip

Feedback is appreciated, and I hope this project will interest anyone in the Marathon community.
Last edited by SpooferJahk on Jul 2nd '14, 01:02, edited 5 times in total.
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SpooferJahk

Post Jun 4th '14, 07:03

patrick
末法

Post Jun 4th '14, 23:00

Neat! I would love to see an alternative to the standard quicktime based ones. Personally I would love to see the working midi files so I could put them through various modern sound fonts. The new Timbers of Heaven comes to mind.

Curious though, I always thought that the Quicktime and Standard Windows Synth were in fact a dry versions of the Sound Canvas.
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herecomethej2000
Ledyard, CT

Post Jun 5th '14, 01:23

The QuickTime Musical Instruments were licensed from Roland.

Also MIDIs: viewtopic.php?t=2430
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treellama
Pittsburgh

Post Jun 5th '14, 01:44

QuickTime Musical Instruments 2.0 included 41 of the 128 GM instruments:
Spoiler:
1. Acoustic Grand Piano
5. Electric Piano 1
7. Harpsichord
8. Clavi
12. Vibraphone
13. Marimba
17. Drawbar Organ
21. Reed Organ
25. Acoustic Guitar (nylon)
31. Distortion Guitar
34. Electric Bass (finger)
37. Slap Bass 1
41. Violin
48. Timpani
49. String Ensemble 1
53. Choir Aahs
56. Orchestra Hit
57. Trumpet
61. French Horn
66. Alto Sax
69. Oboe
72. Clarinet
74. Flute
76. Pan Flute
79. Whistle
82. Lead 2 (sawtooth)
87. Lead 7 (fifths)
89. Pad 1 (new age)
90. Pad 2 (warm)
91. Pad 3 (polysynth)
105. Sitar
106. Banjo
114. Agogo
115. Steel Drums
118. Melodic Tom
120. Reverse Cymbal
123. Seashore
124. Bird Tweet
125. Telephone Ring
126. Helicopter
128. Gunshot

QTMI also included 2 drum sets (standard and room kit).

The Marathon tracks used room-kit drums and 18 unique instruments, only 8 of which are in QTMI's subset. I haven't tested QT 2.0 to confirm how it mapped the missing ones.

In QT:
Spoiler:
1. Acoustic Grand Piano
17. Drawbar Organ
49. String Ensemble 1
53. Choir Aahs
61. French Horn
79. Whistle
91. Pad 3 (polysynth)
118. Melodic Tom

Not in QT:
Spoiler:
16. Dulcimer
19. Rock Organ
45. Tremolo Strings
51. SynthStrings 1
77. Blown Bottle
85. Lead 5 (charang)
86. Lead 6 (voice)
95. Pad 7 (halo)
97. FX 1 (rain)
113. Tinkle Bell
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Hopper

Post Jun 5th '14, 03:12

herecomethej2000 wrote:Neat! I would love to see an alternative to the standard quicktime based ones. Personally I would love to see the working midi files so I could put them through various modern sound fonts. The new Timbers of Heaven comes to mind.

Curious though, I always thought that the Quicktime and Standard Windows Synth were in fact a dry versions of the Sound Canvas.

Microsoft Wavetable Synth is indeed based on the Sound Canvas, but the samples used are not only horrid, but lack the punch the actual Sound Canvas units give for music.

Also, here are the MIDIs I edited, will update the OP with the link for anyone else perusing this thread.
http://www.mediafire.com/download/cantahf99aahgb0/Marathon+%28Tweaked+GM+Edits%29.zip
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SpooferJahk

Post Jun 5th '14, 03:13

treellama wrote:The QuickTime Musical Instruments were licensed from Roland.

Also MIDIs: viewtopic.php?t=2430

Those MIDIs sound incorrect still, and the archive does not contain all the songs as well.
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SpooferJahk

Post Jun 5th '14, 12:24

Are you looking at the fifth post down, by Megabyte?
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treellama
Pittsburgh

Post Jun 5th '14, 19:31

treellama wrote:Are you looking at the fifth post down, by Megabyte?

Checked that one too, same as before except the soundtrack is complete.
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SpooferJahk

Post Jun 6th '14, 03:22

Thanks a lot! These midi files look great! Between vlc and audacity it should be easy to make my own .oggs for ingame use.
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herecomethej2000
Ledyard, CT

Post Jun 20th '14, 01:29

It was fun to listen to these with an SC-55 soundfont, so I think you're on to something. Best of luck with your project. Maybe a pixel artist can mock up a 320x200 screenshot of Marathon (with non-square pixels of course), to give us an appropriate alternate-history image to go with the music.
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Hopper

Post Jun 30th '14, 00:52

Thought I should give an update, as I am typing this I am nearly halfway done with recording the music for Aleph One use. Took some time off from this project because of personal reasons, but it should be done in the coming days. I will be uploading the pack in OGG format for Aleph One and in WAV for anyone who wants to convert it to any other format for their own personal use.

I will also be reuploading the MIDI files themselves as well since I added some needed chorus and reverb effects to the tracks to make them pop in a proper MIDI setup.
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SpooferJahk

Post Jul 1st '14, 23:27

UPDATE: Uploaded the fixed MIDI files and the addon pack for Aleph One and added the links in the first post. Uploading the WAV files of the recordings right now and hopefully will be up very soon, my internet is kind of crappy and it takes a while to upload files that are hundreds of megabytes.

UPDATE 2: WAV files are now uploaded, enjoy.
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SpooferJahk

Post Jul 3rd '14, 00:02

I listened to these and made a loose comparison to the original-ish tracks that come with M1A1. In the process, I had to remember that I've heard Craig Hardgrove's remixes more often than the originals, so what sounds most 'right' to me may be different from other people.

Some disorganized thoughts:
  • For the most part these sound sufficiently true to the originals.
  • I like the more upbeat tracks like Fat Man and Freedom, but then that's always been true.
  • The strings in the second half of Flippant are still 'slow on the draw', giving it an anemic waa waa sound.
  • The vocals on Aliens Again seem more processed. Also, for some reason I remember the rhythmic soprano line from Rushing in this song, but I am mistaken.
  • What About Bob particularly benefits from the added reverb.
  • In Splash, some of the melody gets indistinct in the low register, though it's probably the slow attack I hear in Flippant again.
User avatar

Crater Creator

Post Jul 3rd '14, 00:22

Crater Creator wrote:I listened to these and made a loose comparison to the original-ish tracks that come with M1A1. In the process, I had to remember that I've heard Craig Hardgrove's remixes more often than the originals, so what sounds most 'right' to me may be different from other people.

Some disorganized thoughts:
  • For the most part these sound sufficiently true to the originals.
  • I like the more upbeat tracks like Fat Man and Freedom, but then that's always been true.
  • The strings in the second half of Flippant are still 'slow on the draw', giving it an anemic waa waa sound.
  • The vocals on Aliens Again seem more processed. Also, for some reason I remember the rhythmic soprano line from Rushing in this song, but I am mistaken.
  • What About Bob particularly benefits from the added reverb.
  • In Splash, some of the melody gets indistinct in the low register, though it's probably the slow attack I hear in Flippant again.

Thanks for the thoughts, might go back and make a version 2.0 with further tweaks based on your thoughts. I should mention that the Sound Canvas brings in its own set of limitations with its synth handle that differ from the Quicktime 2.0's synth. Splash in particular slightly suffers from this since the polyphony of the Sound Canvas is a wee bit low, especially with the first generation models, which I do have, and it can lead to some melodies sounding off when the polyphony gets high (Which is no coincidence with your thoughts on it). Also in regards to the Aliens Again track, most of the vocal samples will sound very processed on a Sound Canvas though the sample set I used in this track, Echo Drops, sounds more apparent in that regard. Sadly it was the only voice sound that actually sounded right and close to the original so it was either go processed, or sound incredibly off and annoying. There is a valid reason as to why a lot of people give General MIDI music flak... :lol:
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SpooferJahk

Post Jul 3rd '14, 01:24

Yeah, listening to these kind of makes me wonder how it'd sound if the music were performed with live instruments [MSmile]. I'm tempted to jump into GarageBand and start messing around myself, but I probably won't.

I suppose my main reason for posting is so you know people are listening to this and appreciate what you're doing. I hope more people weigh in with comments, since we surely have better music critics around here than myself.
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Crater Creator

Post Jul 3rd '14, 02:06

Crater Creator wrote:Yeah, listening to these kind of makes me wonder how it'd sound if the music were performed with live instruments [MSmile]. I'm tempted to jump into GarageBand and start messing around myself, but I probably won't.

I suppose my main reason for posting is so you know people are listening to this and appreciate what you're doing. I hope more people weigh in with comments, since we surely have better music critics around here than myself.

Either way, thanks for the feedback, definitely need it even if someone is not a huge music critic. I don't think anyone needs to be a critic to say a piece of music sounds off or not. :P
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SpooferJahk


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