|Christopher Friedrich Hülsbeck|
Hülsbeck's mother, aunt and grandmother were piano teachers. He had lessons at age 5, but dropped out after 2 years due to his grandmother's old-fashioned ways, most memorably hitting students with a stick, as well as his preference to composing over performing. He had drum lessons at age 12 and initially liked The Beatles, but upon hearing Popcorn, he grew fond of electronic music and wanted a Korg MS-10; however, his family could not afford the 2000 DM.
Meanwhile, he taught himself BASIC on his uncle's Sirius PC. Later, he read about the Commodore 64 and its built-in synthesizer and bought it in December 1984 after 6 months from 500 DM of his paper round (plus 100 DM from his grandmother, without which he would have bought an Atari 800XL).
He attended Adolf-Reichwein-Schule in Langen, Hessen, where he met C64 game programmers Artur Wystub and Peter Thierolf. Wystub helped Hülsbeck getting started in assembly and programmed the first two games in Hülsbeck's gameography.
In February 1986, Hülsbeck heard of a music contest held by the German magazine 64'er and composed Shades from 8 PM to 4 AM, merely aiming for top ten, but to his shock reached first place, earning 1500 DM. To the same magazine, he sold Soundmonitor, an influental music editor, which was awarded Type-in of the Month. Next, he looked for game developers in the newspapers, played a few C64 songs to the boss of Rainbow Arts on the phone and was hired on the spot. After scoring two games freelance, he quit school, finding it too tiring to work parallel.
In early 1990, Hülsbeck, Frank Matzke and Thierolf founded the company A.U.D.I.O.S. and, in autumn, its label Kaiko, which he cites as his most creative time. The company broke down in 1993 or 1994, forcing Hülsbeck to pay off debts until mid 1999 and start anew. He founded Chris Hülsbeck Medienproduktion in 1994 and started a music contest himself in 1995, launching Fabian Del Priore's career.
In February 1998, when his customers had become uninspired, he was given a chance to score a Star Wars game and followed Factor 5 to the US. Since closure of their California office in 2009, he is freelance again.
Hülsbeck married artist Tracy Sheppard on December 31, 2008. They sold their house in Petaluma in 2015 and since travel with their cats in a RV as The Cruisin' Crew. Cited as the Hans Zimmer of video games, he has no further training and still has limits at reading musical notation. He believes that making video game music in the 1980s was about being 70% of a programmer and 30% of a musician, and that nowadays aspiring video game musicians require endurance and talent above all. He learned a bit of C++ in 2005 but stated that even the compilers drive him crazy. His ultimate goal is to compose for films. His favorite composer and platform remain John Williams and the Amiga.
From the two prizes from 64'er, Hülsbeck bought an Amiga 1000 for 4000 DM in late 1986, but did not use it for 2 years. He designed a new format based on Soundmonitor, called TFMX (The Final Musicsystem eXtended) and programmed the driver. Thierolf programmed the editor. They sold it to Demonware, but were cheated and had to stop publishing updates in 1989.
Hülsbeck's instruments were from an Ensoniq SQ-80.
Hülsbeck used TFMX-Editor (AMI) with the Atari ST's sound chip on a board connected to the Amiga.
In 1985, Hülsbeck started developing a driver, Musicmaster, in Profi-Ass 64 and composed in hex. As that was tedious, he spent the summer of 1986 writing an editor for it, Soundmonitor, which was published in 64'er 10/86.
In 1987, he created a more efficient version of Musicmaster called The Final Musicplayer, which was only available to Georg Brandt and himself, and started sampling percussion and bass sounds using hardware built with a friend, connected to the C64's userport. For sound effects (as well as short echoing jingles, most prominent in Jinks), Hülsbeck initially wrote separate routines but eventually supported them directly in the music drivers.
In 1988, Hülsbeck noticed that the 8580 played samples too quietly and concentrated more on the SID chip itself. He programmed an early version of TFMX for the C64, which was only available to Ramiro Vaca and himself.
Hülsbeck likes the uniqueness of the SID sound and highlights the pulse width modulation, but dislikes how unpredictable the built-in filter sounds on every machine. In VICE 3.2, most songs sound altogether best with the model 6581 (reSID) and a filter bias of 180 - however, the melody at 2:00 of In-Game - Madness is inaudible there and proves that for a few songs, individual filter settings have to be found.
A driver for TFMX files from the Amiga existed.
Based on TFMX, Hülsbeck designed and tested MusyX Soundtool (W32).
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,9245/ - MobyGames.
- facebook.com/chris.huelsbeck - Facebook.
- twitter.com/Chris_Huelsbeck - Twitter.
- kultboy.com/pic/1953/ - Interview with personal questions from ASM 3/89 (in German).
- kultboy.com/pic/133/ - Interview from Amiga Joker 4/90 (in German).
- csdb.dk/release/?id=7153 - C64 Disk Interview from December 22, 1990.
- archive.org/details/pcgamesmagazine-1995-09/page/n31 - Interview from PC Games 9/95 (in German).
- csdb.dk/release/?id=5471 - C64 Disk Interview from January 16, 1996.
- zakalwe.fi/~shd/texts/imr/c156huel.htm - Interview from August 29, 1996.
- nemmelheim.de/kaiko/interview_e.html - Interview from July 6, 2000 about Kaiko.
- csdb.dk/release/?id=9282 - C64 Disk Interview from October 15, 2000 (in German).
- wildmag.de/issue03/i_huelsb.htm - Interview from October 28, 2000 (in German).
- remix64.com/interviews/interview-chris-huelsbeck.html - Interview from June 18, 2001.
- csdb.dk/release/?id=11455 - Interview from January 11, 2004.
- youtube.com/watch?v=Zy63qODDqSo - Video Interview from August 24, 2008 about Lair and Symphonic Shades (in German).
- geemag.de/2009/04/10/einfach-machen/ - Interview from April 10, 2009 (in German).
- youtube.com/watch?v=veya7Bw1c04 - Video Interview from November 13, 2009 about The Great Giana Sisters (in German).
- kultboy.com/Chris-Huelsbeck-Interview/27/ - Interview from December 26, 2009 (in German).
- retrogamingplanet.it/intervista/dal-c64-alliphone-chris-huelsbeck-ed-i-suoi-30-anni-di-musica/ - Interview from February 25, 2011.
- youtube.com/watch?v=cAG1_56N83Q - Video Interview from July 5, 2011.
- hna.de/kassel/der-c64-mein-maedchen-heimcomputer-machte-kasseler-erfolgreich-1560815.html - Interview from January 12, 2012 (in German).
- 4players.de/4players.php/dispbericht/Allgemein/Interview/9128/75727/0/Chris_Huelsbeck.html - Interview from April 16, 2012 about Turrican Soundtrack Anthology (in German).
- amigapd.com/interview-chris-huelsbeck.html - Interview from June 2012.
- digitalista.de/interviews/2015/Februar/11/chris-hulsbeck-uber-turrican-great-giana-sisters.html - Interview from February 11, 2015.
- youtube.com/watch?v=Y4R84Fq4iRE - Video Interview from February 12, 2015.
- youtube.com/watch?v=6mRVckFxOKM&t=28m49s - Audio Interview from July 9, 2016.
- books.google.de/books?id=gLaODgAAQBAJ&pg=PA184 - Interview from Retro Gamer Spezial 2/2017 (in German).