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Nootrac4571

Doom music: Sign of Evil - intended instrument?

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Here's Sign of Evil (First used in E1M8) played through an AdLib card:

 

 

 

So: I actually can't remember what sound card I had when Doom came out. I'm pretty sure it was a Creative Labs card, but it might have been an AdLib? I had a Soundblaster and an AWE32 at one point, but I don't think when Doom came out? That seems too early, but time has dulled my memory.

 

But as far as I can remember this is what Sign of Evil sounded like at the time, and I bloody loved it. Favourite track from shareware Doom by far.

 

The crucial difference to other versions is the regular high-pitched note that carries on throughout the track, and what instrument its supposed to be. I always thought it was supposed to be something like a violin string pluck - as it sounds here - but I've heard loads of other versions where it's some kind of awful-sounding cheery drum? The song's so sinister and melancholy, but then this happy little "Bhooo!" jumps in and ruins it.

 

Here's an example:

 

 

 

What's it supposed to be? What did Bobby Prince intend that instrument to sound like? Is my "violin pluck" interpretation just an artefact of a crappy soundcard playing the wrong noise, or was that how it was always supposed to sound? Does anyone know?

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It's supposed to be a drum. The Doom soundtrack was composed with an SC-55.

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I prefer the adlib version of the song too. 3DO version also has a nice touch, with the church bell:

 

 

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This is actually one of my favourite tunes from the Doom OST. I especially like the Andrew Hulshult version of it. One of the most eerie interpretations of an already very eerie song. Love it!

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3 hours ago, Nootrac4571 said:

Is my "violin pluck" interpretation just an artefact of a crappy soundcard playing the wrong noise

Yes and no.  DOOM's music is General MIDI, and that track uses an instrument called "Synth Drum".  The "poof" sound heard on most wavetable cards and the SC-55 is the intended sound.

As for the "violin pluck" in the FM version, that sound is still actually a Synth Drum.   It's just that that's how that particular instrument sounds in DOOM's default OPL GENMIDI lump.

While I think the "string pluck" in the OPL version of the music is nice, the ominous choir (which sounds reasonably realistic on the SC-55) just sounds bland and weak in OPL.

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Windows General Midi is what I think of when we’re talking about Doom music and thankfully it’s kinda-sorta close to the SC55.

 

OPL always sounded very tinny and unsatisfying for me personally and I think there’s some old transcripts out there of Bobby Prince or Romero or someone talking about how much better general midi sounded than OPL and how it was a big step forward and I have to agree. It’s dated as hell, but general midi (or the SC55) does an acceptable job of actually sounding like instruments rather than just various digital sounds. Drums sound like tippy-tappy weirdness in OPL but somewhat full and satisfying in gen midi.

 

I think the drum sounds better than the random string pluck (I never associated the drum with cheeriness) but maybe that specific example is just because it’s what I grew up with and am used to. OPL in general though just feels like a leap backwards from general midi and the like. The richness and fullness just seems to never really be there.

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Replacing the drum with a bell, like the 3DO version did, is an inspired move.

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I have the same sort of question about Suspense (E1M5/E4M4).

After 0:46, on every four beats I suppose, a weird, faint note can be heard, which resembles the "fast door opening/closing" sound effect to me.

In the SoundBlaster/AdLib version, however, it rather reminds me of honking of some sort instead.

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i'm thinking it's supposed to sound like some sort of demon that's stalking you, as it kind of sounds like the Imp's active noise to me. hence the "suspense" of not knowing when something's going to pop out at you.

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I always thought it was a whistle or flute as a kid since it’s so quiet. I’m glad it’s there though, it gives the midi a bit more character.

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And yet another one: the "eponymous" soundtrack of MAP05 and MAP13.

What I'd like to point out in there is the "second verse" (seriously, what do you call it anyways?) of the OST, which sounds vastly different in the Genmidi and OPL versions.

Also, I'm not entirely sure, but isn't this music an extension/rendition to the Shareware/Registered/TUD intro music? That would explain its title.

10 minutes ago, Gez said:

How so? Doesn't sound anything like it.

I meant the beginning part of the soundtrack (which, according to a random trivia I found in a YT comment, is supposed to represent breathing), just forgot to mention it. Of course D_INTRO is a, like, 6-7 seconds long OST with those heavy drums that outloud/outnumb the other instrument, but I swear it sounds like that.

Edited by Cell

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33 minutes ago, Cell said:

Also, I'm not entirely sure, but isn't this music an extension/rendition to the Shareware/Registered/TUD intro music? That would explain its title.

How so? Doesn't sound anything like it.

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On 12/13/2018 at 9:02 AM, elend said:

This is actually one of my favourite tunes from the Doom OST. I especially like the Andrew Hulshult version of it. One of the most eerie interpretations of an already very eerie song. Love it!

Stop, I can only get so hard!

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, Cell said:

(which, according to a random trivia I found in a YT comment, is supposed to represent breathing)

No, it's supposed to represent a voice saying "DOOM", hence the title of the track.  Robert Prince himself confirmed this in Scott Tobin's Composers Play series.  If you listen to the track with a Roland Sound Canvas (anything from an SC-55 to an SC-8820, not the low quality MS Synth), or certain soundfonts, you can hear the intro clearly saying "DOOM".  Unfortunately, many MIDI synths and soundfonts do not play the intended effect due to their instrument samples being different.

 

Here's an example of a soundfont that plays the "correct" sound in the intro:
 

 

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E1M8 music is great. I live the Rimco version.

 

 

 

 

The plucky version in the first post though was kind of cool never heard it using that sound card and it makes it sound like a tight breakbeat more than I’d thought of it before, I kept waiting for someone to rap over it :D

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I've always preferred the "plucked violin" interpretation of the song. That's what I heard first, and never quite got used to the "correct" version with the synth drum. There's a few other songs Prince did with synth drums that I find better in OPL from Wolfenstein 3D, I think.

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