Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jochen Hippel

Jochen Hippel (born October 14, 1971) is a musician from Kirchheimbolanden in southwest Germany. He played one of the most prominent roles in computer music during the 16-bit microcomputer era, composing the music for tens of games. He was also an experienced Amiga programmer and ported many of Thalion Software's Atari ST titles. He no longer composes music for a living and in 2006 he was working in Logistics for Matheis+Koebig Baustoffe[1]

Jochen's first computer music was a set of Christmas songs that he arranged in a rock style on his school's Commodore 64.

As a member of The Exceptions, using the handle Mad Max, he wrote most of the music for their demos including the B.I.G. Demo (Best In Galaxy). The demo was essentially a large collection of C64 tunes that The Exceptions ported across to the Atari ST's inferior Yamaha YM2149 sound chip using his own driver to get the most out of it. Jochen then had to fix all the music in order to get it to sound correct on the ST, the YM2149 has no resonance filter, no ADSR enveloping, no ring modulation. Composers such as Rob Hubbard used a lot of special effects in his music which were difficult to replicate on the ST sound chip.

Another note of interest is that the B.I.G. demo contained an additional demo screen entitled "The Digital Department" containing 6 digital versions of C64 music. The sound routine however used each channel of the YM2149 as a 4-bit DAC and played samples for each instrument. This is the first time ADSR samples are heard on the Atari ST, unfortunately only one more piece of music is ever written using this routine, albeit the 16 minute long Knuckle Busters tune by Rob Hubbard. This appears as a guest screen in the Cuddly Demos (written by The Carebears) and was used to torment Richard Karsmakers of ST News who was promptly chained to a chair as the disk was formatted before his very eyes!

He worked as a freelance musician, doing music for many 16-bit games. He eventually joined Thalion Software and wrote music for them. His musical track for the game Amberstar is considered among his best works, and the game and Hippel's music acquired a cult following. For in game music on the Amiga Jochen often stuck to chiptune-like sound - that became his trademark - instead of using more "realistic" instrument sounds that machine's support for digitized sound made possible. This was usually down to the lack of memory available. Title music for games where a different matter using real instruments and often contained sampled speech examples of which are Wings of Death and Lethal Xcess.

He has released an album called Give it a Try and has composed music for other albums including tracks on Immortal 2 and Immortal 3[2].

A little known fact is that Hippel was also a good programmer, he created all of his own music tools and also ported most of Thalion's early Atari ST titles to the Commodore Amiga. Hippel also created the Amiga 7 voice replay routine which was used in several Thalion and Eclipse titles and later used by Chris Hülsbeck in his TFMX replay routine for the title music of Turrican 2 and Turrican 3 for which he wrote the in game loading music.

[edit] Video game music

NOTE: Games without an explicit platform noted next to them indicate Jochen did both the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST versions.

Data Provided by Hall of Light, Atari Legend and Lemon Amiga games databases.

[edit] External links

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