Jet Set Willy: The Final Frontier, the music

A couple of items of trivia about the music in “Jet Set Willy: The Final Frontier” for Amstrad CPC.

Title Screen Music

The title screen music is of course Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. I wrote the music player for the game, and sourced the actual music data from the C64 version of the game (which had a nice 3 channel rendition of the tune). Since I never had any contact with the programmer of the C64 version of the game, I sat down one (long) night (while housemates Stoo and Marc went down the pub) with a hex dump utility, a pre-release copy of the C64 game, and a Casio MT30 keyboard (I loved that keyboard!). I spent hours poring over the hex data looking for a byte sequence that resembled the distinctive triplet that begins the Moonlight Sonata, playing the note offsets on the MT30. Eventually, I found the right sequence of bytes, for all three audio channels (and figured out how note duration was encoded), and dumped the data over to the Amstrad. After hours of monkeying around, I eventually had the whole tune playing (in full three-channel, square wave glory on the Amstrad CPC’s General Instrument AY-3-8912 sound chip)!

It turned out … OK, here’s a rendition courtesy of a dedicated YouTuber:

In-Game Music

The in-game music for the original Spectrum version of Jet Set Willy was “If I Were A Rich Man” from the movie “Fiddler on the Roof”. For whatever reason (word had it that publisher Software Projects ran into rights issues), new music was needed and so I came up with a catchy (if not … repetitive) little ditty, composed 2-finger style (and transposed by hand) on my trusty MT30. This tune (which was the first original music I had written for a game) can be heard here (again courtesy of a dedicated YouTuber):

This (untitled) tune is a 2-channel composition, so that the third sound channel on the Amstrad CPC’s AY sound chip could be used for game sound effects.

Posted by Steve Wetherill

1 comment

Adrian Gardiner

I quite often hum the in game music for the final frontier to this day. I even learnt to play Moonlight Sonata on piano because of the title music. Nice to read the story behind where the music came from because I’ve always thought I might find a symphony recording somewhere but with no joy.

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