Rob Hubbard (born 1955[1][2] in Kingston upon Hull,[3] England) is a British composer best known for his composition of computer game theme music, especially for microcomputers of the 1980s such as the Commodore 64. His work showcased the potential of the Commodore 64's sound hardware, and he pioneered many advanced programming techniques. He provided many early examples of how appropriate music can improve the gaming experience.

Rob Hubbard
Born1955 (age 63–64)
Kingston upon Hull, England
GenresChiptune
Occupation(s)Composer, programmer
Years active1985–1996, 2014–2018

Early lifeEdit

He first started playing music aged seven. Whilst at school he played in bands. After leaving school he went to music college.[4]

Early careerEdit

In the late seventies, before scoring games, he was a professional studio musician. He decided to teach himself BASIC and machine code for the Commodore 64.[5]

Music on the Commodore 64Edit

Writing a few demos and some educational software for learning music, he approached Gremlin Graphics in 1985 with samples of his work, in an attempt to market his software. Gremlin was more interested in the tunes than the software, and he was asked to create the soundtrack for Thing on a Spring, a platform game.

Hubbard went on to write or convert music for a variety of publishers on over 75 games between 1985 and 1989 such as Monty on the Run, Crazy Comets, Master of Magic and Commando. Some of his most popular tunes include also Warhawk, Delta, Thrust, Lightforce, Spellbound, Sanxion, Auf Wiedersehen Monty and International Karate. The game Knucklebusters includes Hubbard's longest tune: a 17-minute opus. Hubbard has mentioned his personal favourites are Kentilla, WAR and Sanxion. His least favourite was Sam Fox Strip Poker which he admitted to have done purely for money. He went under John York as an alias on the game credits.[3] He has stated that he had many musical influences including Jean Michel Jarre, Larry Fast and other synth bands.[6]

During this time Hubbard mainly composed for the Commodore 64's SID sound chip. He worked freelance and turned down some offers from companies to work in-house.[4]

Move to Electronic Arts and the USAEdit

After working for several different companies, he left Newcastle in 1988 to work for Electronic Arts in America as a composer.[4] He was the first person devoted to sound and music at EA, and did everything from low-level programming to composing.[7] One of his most famous compositions during his period at EA is the music featured in the loading sequence of the Commodore 64 version of Skate or Die, which features multiple sampled chords of electric guitar and organ. Playback of samples was facilitated by exploiting a feature in the SID sound-synthesizer chip: altering the volume register produces an audible click, and altering the register thousands of times per second enables a relatively crude (but surprisingly clear and sophisticated for eight-bit computers) form of sample playback.[8] He eventually became Audio Technical Director,[9] a more administrative job, deciding which technologies to use in games, and which to develop further.

After the Commodore 64 period he wrote some soundtracks for games which appeared on the Amiga, Atari ST, IBM PC and Sega Mega Drive, but these soundtracks are less experimental and more generic and lackluster than the clearly inspired and carefully crafted masterpieces of his Commodore 64 period, and do not feature quirky effects and interesting structures if his earlier works. They are often much slower-paced, too.

Recent activitiesEdit

Hubbard recently[when?] contributed a few re-arrangements of his themes to Chris Abbott's C64 tribute Back in Time Live. Hubbard has performed several times with the Danish C64 cover-band PRESS PLAY ON TAPE[10] who have covered many of his early tunes using a full rock-band arrangement. Hubbard has also performed his old music on piano with the support of violinist and fellow chiptune composer, Mark Knight aka TDK.

Hubbard left EA in 2002 and returned to England.[11] He has recently resumed playing in a band, and has even revisited his past game music work in concert. Recent composition jobs have included music for mobile phone games.

In 2005, music from International Karate was performed live by a full orchestra at the third Symphonic Game Music Concert. The event took place in Leipzig, Germany. Hubbard arranged and orchestrated the piece.

In 2014, Hubbard appeared in and composed music for the documentary feature film From Bedrooms to Billions, a film that tells the story of the British video games industry.

In November 2016, Hubbard received an honorary degree from Abertay University for his contributions to video game music in the 1980s.[12]

WorksEdit

Year Title Notes
1985 Commando[13] based on theme from Commando arcade game by Tamayo Kawamoto
Rasputin features traditional Russian songs
Monty on the Run[13] partially based on Devil's Galop by Charles Williams
Thing on a Spring[14]
Confuzion[14] Cover of the song "Confuzion" by the band Private Property which was also on side B of the game cassette.
Crazy Comets[13] Inspired by New Order and funk music.[15]
Chimera[16]
Master of Magic[17] partially based on "Shibolet" and "An End to History" from the Synergy album Audion
The Last V8[18]
Action Biker[14]
Formula 1 Simulator interpretation of "Hard Times" by Human League[19]
Hunter Patrol[20]
One Man and His Droid[21]
Battle of Britain
Harvey Smith Showjumping
Up, Up and Away cover of a song by The 5th Dimension
1986 Deep Strike
Bump Set Spike
Ninja
Gerry the Germ[13]
Proteus based on two separate songs from John Keating´s album Space Experience ("The Unknown Planet" and "Space Agent")
Thrust[22]
Warhawk the same song as "Proteus", just an intro added
Lightforce[23]
Geoff Capes Strongman Challenge
Samantha Fox Strip Poker[24] credited as John York because as he said "[it] was such a cheesy title and they wanted that cheesy lame music along with it - I didn't want to admit that I did it just for the money".[citation needed] Contains "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin
Tarzan Based on the theme from 1960s TV show "Tarzan"
W.A.R.[25]
Zoids[26] based on the track "Ancestors" from the Synergy album Audion
Flash Gordon
Spellbound[27]
Hollywood or Bust Covers of "12th Street Rag" by Euday L. Bowman and "Dill Pickles Rag" by Charles L. Johnson
Human Race[28]
Kentilla[29]
Phantoms of the Asteroid
Video Poker contains "Easy Winners" by Scott Joplin
Knucklebusters Hubbard's longest composition, lasting 17 minutes[30]
International Karate parts are a pastiche of Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Forbidden Colours" from "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence"
Sanxion in addition to Hubbard's famous loader song,[31] this contains "Dance of the Knights" from Prokofiev's ballet "Romeo and Juliet"
1987 Jet Set Willy Atari 800 version
ACE II
BMX Kids the sampled voice saying "Go!" is actually Hubbard himself!
Saboteur II
Sigma 7 Commodore 64 arrangement by Hubbard; Amstrad original by Julian Breeze
Thanatos Commodore 64 arrangement by Hubbard; Amstrad original by Julian Breeze
Thundercats
Arcade Classics
I-Ball inspired by "Whip Blow" and "I Want You" by Cabaret Voltaire[5]
Hydrofool
Shockway Rider
Auf Wiedersehen Monty with Ben Daglish
Chain Reaction
Mega Apocalypse Re-arrangement of "Crazy Comets"[32]
Nemesis the Warlock[33]
Wiz
Bangkok Knights
IK plus (International Karate plus)
Dragons Lair Part II[34]
Star Paws[35]
Delta The music is inspired by the Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack by Philip Glass. Also inspired by Pink Floyd[3]
Trans Atlantic Balloon Challenge
Goldrunner contains the same song as "Human Race"
1988 19 Part One: Boot Camp an interpretation of Paul Hardcastle's "19"
Jordan vs. Bird: One on One
Kings of the Beach
One-on-One 2
Power Play Hockey
Skate or Die![36]
Pandora
Ricochet
1989 688 Attack Sub
Budokan: The Martial Spirit
Indianapolis 500: The Simulation
Keef the Thief
Kings of the Beach
Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs
Populous[37]
1990 Low Blow
Ski or Die
The Immortal
John Madden Football
Skate or Die 2: The Search for Double Trouble
1991 PGA Tour Golf
Road Rash with Michael Bartlow
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf with Brian L. Schmidt
1992 Road Rash 2 with Don Veca and Tony Berkeley
The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel
John Madden Football '93
1994 NHL Hockey '95
1996 The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Rose Tattoo
2014 From Bedrooms to Billions
2018 Go Go Dash

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ ZZAP! 64, October 1985
  2. ^ Happy Computer 7/86
  3. ^ a b c "For the best in C64 nostalgia". C64.COM. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "For the best in C64 nostalgia". C64.COM. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Interview with Rob Hubbard". Sidmusic.org. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Interview with Rob Hubbard". Trondal.com. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Interview with Rob Hubbard". Karsmakers.nl. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  8. ^ Paulie's SID Music Page (A Fourth Channel section) (6 April 2008). "SID Music".
  9. ^ http://www.sidmusic.org/sid/rhubbard.html
  10. ^ https://www.arcadeattack.co.uk/rob-hubbard-chris-abbott/
  11. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/19/8/Rob-Hubbard/Page8.html
  12. ^ "Abertay announces honorary graduates". abertay.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d "Profile - The Master Of Micro Music". The-commodore-zone.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  14. ^ a b c "View a Scan". Zzap64.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  15. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/20/2/Profile---The-Master-Of-Micro-Music/Page2.html
  16. ^ http://www.sidmusic.org/sid/rhubbard.html
  17. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/20/1/Profile---The-Master-Of-Micro-Music/Page1.html
  18. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/19/3/Rob-Hubbard/Page3.html
  19. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/19/3/Rob-Hubbard/Page3.html
  20. ^ http://www.zzap64.co.uk/cgi-bin/displaypage.pl?issue=7&page=52
  21. ^ http://www.sidmusic.org/sid/rhubbard.html
  22. ^ http://www.sidmusic.org/sid/rhubbard.html
  23. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/19/5/Rob-Hubbard/Page5.html
  24. ^ https://www.gamegrin.com/news/legendary-game-composer-rob-hubbard-to-be-immortalised-in-book-game-and-album-form/
  25. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/19/5/Rob-Hubbard/Page5.html
  26. ^ "Profile - The Master Of Micro Music". The-commodore-zone.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  27. ^ http://www.sidmusic.org/sid/rhubbard.html
  28. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/19/3/Rob-Hubbard/Page3.html
  29. ^ http://www.sidmusic.org/sid/rhubbard.html
  30. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/19/4/Rob-Hubbard/Page4.html
  31. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/19/5/Rob-Hubbard/Page5.html
  32. ^ http://www.the-commodore-zone.com/articlelive/articles/19/2/Rob-Hubbard/Page2.html
  33. ^ "Issue 26". Zzap64.co.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  34. ^ http://www.sidmusic.org/sid/rhubbard.html
  35. ^ https://archive.org/stream/cvg-magazine-071/CVG_071_Sep_1987#page/n29/mode/2up
  36. ^ https://www.remix64.com/interviews/interview-rob-hubbard.html
  37. ^ https://www.gamegrin.com/news/legendary-game-composer-rob-hubbard-to-be-immortalised-in-book-game-and-album-form/

External linksEdit