Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

This is where you can post your Commander Keen related stories, artwork, or other stuff that is related to Commander Keen but otherwise doesn't belong in another forum.
Post Reply
spikey
Vortininja
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2013 21:30
Location: Miragia
Contact:

Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

Post by spikey »

Hey everyone,

I was wondering if anyone has released GM conversions of the IMF originals. I know a few have done it, but unlike other Apogee games, there only seems to be the Bobby Prince recreations floating around. Obviously I could do it myself, but I don't have the time, and I'm not very good at converting Adlib drumkits. (I seem to remember it took me hours to do a bad job on a single Monster Bash drum track.)

If anyone has done the Keen 4-6 scores, I'd love to have a copy! Slightly enhanced/remixed versions OK and welcome as well, even though that's not my primary goal.
User avatar
Nisaba
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 1343
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 23:34
Location: The Outpost
Contact:

Re: Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

Post by Nisaba »

have you already consulted the keenwiki?
here you can find a number of MIDI's of the original soundtrack.

https://keenwiki.shikadi.net/wiki/Keen_4_Music
https://keenwiki.shikadi.net/wiki/Keen_5_Music
https://keenwiki.shikadi.net/wiki/Keen_6_Music
Foray in the Forest progress:
92% Programming || 95% GFX || 92% Levels || 98% Creatures || 90% Story || 94% Music || 95% SFX || 96% Extras

Other projects:
- Play Commander Keen on a GameBoy
- The Lynx Nyx
User avatar
Quillax
Vortininja
Posts: 247
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 14:41
Location: Quillax Ship
Contact:

Re: Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

Post by Quillax »

I think spikey is looking for MIDI conversions of other songs that weren't converted by Bobby Prince. If that's the case, Xky Rauh has made a lot of conversions. None of them are available on KeenWiki as far as I know, but they can be downloaded from the PCKF Archive (either in a pack or individually):

http://archive.shikadi.net/pckf/more.htm#xky-midi

The link above also has a couple Cosmo songs included.

Ilsoap made conversions of a few other songs, which are found in a pack that can be download from DOS Classics (with the Wayback Machine):

https://web.archive.org/web/20190906235 ... wnload/247
Quillax Ship - Where you can download all of my cool, keen mods and super-marvelous fangames!
spikey
Vortininja
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2013 21:30
Location: Miragia
Contact:

Re: Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

Post by spikey »

Thanks Quillax. Yeah, as Quillax said, I was looking for conversions done by fans, as Bobby Prince's "original" MIDI's seem more like work he did after the game, not before it. Either way, they don't resemble the game that much, and IMF->MIDI conversion (with tweaking) yields closer results to the in-game music.

Basically, every classic Apogee series (I know this wasn't made by Apogee, but same in terms of file formats, similar gameplay) has MIDI conversions done by fans. I'm confused why there isn't more Keen MIDI floating around (there seems hardly any on the WWW).
User avatar
Malvineous
Shikadi Webmaster
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 21:48
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Contact:

Re: Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

Post by Malvineous »

Are you sure Bobby Prince's versions are remakes? I always thought the MIDIs he had on his website (where these ones came from) were the original source ones before they were chopped down to fit into the game. I believe the original tracks were MIDI and converted to IMF using Voyetra Sequencer Plus (which is now available for free) so I always assumed they were the original MIDIs, otherwise why bother to recreate them if you still had the originals.

He did remake the Major Stryker songs a few years ago (based on IMF to MIDI conversions) and he mentioned via e-mail that he was interested in doing other games if the IMF conversions could be improved so the MIDI timing was better, except that he needed a way to justify spending time on it and since it probably wouldn't pay the bills he didn't think at the time he'd end up doing much more.

I guess since these MIDIs existed, everyone focused more on remixes rather than conversions? It is interesting that there were many forum posts about conversions for other games, but now you mention it, very few for Keen.
User avatar
Nisaba
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 1343
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 23:34
Location: The Outpost
Contact:

Re: Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

Post by Nisaba »

Malvineous wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 11:00 Are you sure Bobby Prince's versions are remakes? I always thought the MIDIs he had on his website (where these ones came from) were the original source ones before they were chopped down to fit into the game. I believe the original tracks were MIDI and converted to IMF using Voyetra Sequencer Plus (which is now available for free) so I always assumed they were the original MIDIs, otherwise why bother to recreate them if you still had the originals.
I second this
Foray in the Forest progress:
92% Programming || 95% GFX || 92% Levels || 98% Creatures || 90% Story || 94% Music || 95% SFX || 96% Extras

Other projects:
- Play Commander Keen on a GameBoy
- The Lynx Nyx
spikey
Vortininja
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2013 21:30
Location: Miragia
Contact:

Re: Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

Post by spikey »

I knew someone would mention this if I said it, I almost didn't ;)

I mean, I don't know for sure. But his MIDI files sound very different than the game IMF files, and not just the Sound Canvas vs FM synthesis either. Drum parts are completely different for some tracks (see: Duke 2 Prince MIDI). Some tracks have wildly different music parts. Obviously, he could have rewrote them for the Adlib spec, especially drum parts. But then that feeds into my next point..

It also doesn't make a lot of sense to custom compose a soundtrack for a device that was just created (Keen 4-6 were released in 1991 I think, the Sound Canvas only hit Sierra On-Line who had a Roland contract until midway through that year). So while Bobby certainly could have purchased a SC-55, it seems unlikely he would write the music for it, then spend weeks wrangling it to sound good on the Adlib. Nevertheless, it's possible.

My theory is that he wrote the games for Adlib (in MIDI format) and then converted them later, which explains why the music sounds so different in his released files for the various Adlib Apogee games.
Of interest too is that Realms of Chaos, released much later, had Adlib IMF files in the beta version (no MIDI), which depending on your logic confirms my theory or counters it (I think he had to translate the RoC score for General MIDI, which is why it sounds quite sterile in places with weird instrument choices, similar to what Rob Wallace had to do with Hocus Pocus, which was also not composed for the SC-55 in my book).

Another, less likely possibility is that he wrote them for GM (or some other spec, e.g. the MT-32), converted them to Adlib, and then no longer had the files, so did the conversions down the road.
He did remake the Major Stryker songs a few years ago (based on IMF to MIDI conversions) and he mentioned via e-mail that he was interested in doing other games if the IMF conversions could be improved so the MIDI timing was better, except that he needed a way to justify spending time on it and since it probably wouldn't pay the bills he didn't think at the time he'd end up doing much more.
So if he composed this for the SC-55, wouldn't he have the MIDI? Didn't you just say why someone would remake tracks if they had the originals? ;)
This is interesting, too. Previously I'd only seen Joe Siegler and Rob Wallace talk about how impossible it was (with Rob cursing at me after I sent him an email with it being done). Good to see Mr Prince using it. Well done, Malv!
I guess since these MIDIs existed, everyone focused more on remixes rather than conversions? It is interesting that there were many forum posts about conversions for other games, but now you mention it, very few for Keen.
Especially because, I downloaded all the Keen MIDI's on the Web about 10 years ago, and from what I can tell, there's only been one guy who's released any since.

Bobby Prince's versions (I don't think they're originals) don't cover all the tracks, so I figured there was plenty of territory for folks to cover. Maybe the fact that Prince is a lawyer and somewhat litigious has caused the lack of Keen music (I know VGMusic.com won't host Keen and possibly any Prince work).
User avatar
Malvineous
Shikadi Webmaster
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 21:48
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Contact:

Re: Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

Post by Malvineous »

Well nothing wrong with discussing it, the fact is we don't know either way at the moment!

I presume you've read some of his blog posts, e.g. this one on drums and this one about MIDI? It would seem that yes he wrote them for Adlib at least in the early cases and that he has since lost all the original source files.

Certainly for the Major Stryker IMF to MIDI conversions I mentioned, he had lost the source files by then, but I had thought he still had them available when he made the songs for his website. But actually after re-reading those blog posts it jogged my memory and now I am wondering whether he said on his website way back then that he didn't have the original files and recreated them too? I wish I'd saved the page itself along with the MIDIs as I haven't been able to find it since. So you might be right after all and even back then they were remakes - I honestly can't remember.

Either way given that he says he had no use for General MIDI until years after its release, I think it's safe to say the SC-55 and friends probably weren't involved.

I had no idea Prince was a lawyer! I guess that explains why all his MIDIs have comments in them about "not for public performance" etc. I'm surprised VGMusic won't host them.
User avatar
Malvineous
Shikadi Webmaster
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 21:48
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Contact:

Re: Commander Keen MIDI conversions?

Post by Malvineous »

So I had another look and was finally able to find the old home page on the Internet Archive: bpmusic.com. The old list of songs is there too. Amazingly they seem to have archived the actual MIDI files as well!

On that page, there is a sub page for Little Known Facts (this is the last version, after this date they were removed and replaced with a "coming soon" notice) where he mentions that the "Too Hot" MIDI on his website was expanded from the original game. So it does look like they are probably remakes.

Interestingly I also found this explanation about why he didn't want his MIDI files used on commercial sites, but he has always been fine with them being used on non-commercial sites.
Post Reply