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Rob Hubbard (born 1955, Kingston upon Hull, 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 provided many examples of how appropriate music can improve the gaming experience.
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 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. He has stated that he had many musical influences including Jean Michel Jarre, Synergy and other synth bands.
During this time Hubbard mainly composed for the Commodore 64's SID sound chip.
Move to Electronic Arts and the USA
After working for several different companies, he left Newcastle in 1989 to work for Electronic Arts in America as a composer. He was the first person devoted to sound and music at EA, and did everything from low-level programming to composing. One of his most famous compositions during his period at EA is the music featured in the loading sequence of the C64 version of Skate or Die, which features samples of electric guitar. Playback of samples was facilitated by exploiting a flaw in the SID sound-synthesizer chip: altering the volume register produced an audible click, and altering the register thousands of times per second enabled a crude form of sample playback. He eventually became Audio Technical Director, a more administrative job, deciding which technologies to use in games, and which to develop further.
Hubbard recently 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 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 / madfiddler.
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.
Hubbard left EA in 2002 and returned to England. 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.
His original SID music can be found from The High Voltage SID Collection though emulated SID music occasionally sounds quite different compared to authentic SID sound.
The SOASC= collection offers the HVSC#49 files in .mp3 format which were recorded on real C64 machines.
|Commando||Elite Systems||1985||based on theme from Commando arcade game|
|Rasputin||Firebird||1985||features traditional Russian songs|
|BMX Kids||Firebird||1985||the sampled voice saying "Go!" is actually Hubbard himself!|
|Monty on the Run||Gremlin Graphics||1985||inspired by Devil's Galop by Charles Williams|
|Thing on a Spring||Gremlin Graphics||1985|
|Master of Magic||MAD/Mastertronic||1985||inspired by "Shibolet and an End to History" from the Synergy album Audion|
|The Last V8||Mastertronic||1985|
|Formula 1 Simulator||Mastertronic||1985|
|One Man and His Droid||Mastertronic||1985||inspired by Police Woman theme (a long version with strings) by Henry Mancini|
|Battle of Britain||PSS||1985|
|Harvey Smith Showjumping||Software Projects||1985|
|Up, Up and Away||Starcade||1985||cover of a song by The 5th Dimension|
|Bump Set Spike||Entertainment USA||1986|
|Gerry the Germ||Firebird||1986|
|Proteus||Firebird||1986||based on two songs from John Keating´s album Space Experience|
|Warhawk||Firebird||1986||the same song as "Proteus", an intro added|
|Geoff Capes Strongman Challenge||Martech||1986|
|Samantha Fox Strip Poker||Martech||1986||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". Contains "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin|
|Zoids||Martech||1986||based on the track "Ancestors" from the Synergy album Audion|
|Hollywood or Bust||Mastertronic||1986|
|Phantoms of the Asteroid||Mastertronic||1986|
|Video Poker||Mastertronic||1986||contains "Easy Winners" by Scott Joplin|
|International Karate||System 3||1986||inspired by Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Forbidden Colours" from "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence"|
|Sanxion||Thalamus Ltd||1986||in addition to Hubbard's famous loader song, this contains "Dance of the Knights" from Prokofiev's ballet "Romeo and Juliet"|
|Jet Set Willy||Tynesoft||1987||Atari 800 version|
|Sigma 7||Durell||1987||Commodore 64 arrangement by Hubbard; Amstrad original by Julian Breeze|
|Thanatos||Durell||1987||Commodore 64 arrangement by Hubbard; Amstrad original by Julian Breeze|
|Auf Wiedersehen Monty||Gremlin Graphics||1987||with Ben Daglish|
|Mega Apocalypse||Martech||1987||Re-arrangement of "Crazy Comets"|
|Nemesis the Warlock||Martech||1987|
|Wiz||Melbourne House||1987||contains a melody line from Premiata Forneria Marconi song Impressioni Di Settembre|
|Bangkok Knights||System 3||1987|
|IK plus (International Karate plus)||System 3||1987|
|Dragons Lair Part II||Software Projects||1987|
|Star Paws||Software Projects||1987|
|Delta||Thalamus Ltd||1987||partially based on the title track of Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack by Philip Glass|
|Trans Atlantic Balloon Challenge||Virgin||1987|
|Goldrunner||Microdeal||1987||contains the same song as "Human Race"|
|19 Part One: Boot Camp||Cascade||1988||an interpretation of Paul Hardcastle's "19"|
|Jordan vs. Bird: One on One||Electronic Arts||1988|
|Kings of the Beach||Electronic Arts||1988|
|One-on-One 2||Electronic Arts||1988|
|Power Play Hockey||Electronic Arts||1988|
|Skate or Die!||Electronic Arts||1988|
|Skate or Die 2: The Search for Double Trouble||Electronic Arts||1990|
|Pandora||PSI Soft Design/Firebird||1988|
|688 Attack Sub||Electronic Arts||1989|
|Budokan: The Martial Spirit||Electronic Arts||1989|
|Indianapolis 500: The Simulation||Electronic Arts||1989|
|Kings of the Beach||Electronic Arts||1989|
|Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs||Electronic Arts||1989|
|Low Blow||Electronic Arts||1990|
|Ski or Die||Electronic Arts||1990|
|The Immortal||Electronic Arts||1990|
|John Madden Football||EA Sports/Imagineer||1990|
|PGA Tour Golf||Electronic Arts||1991|
|Road Rash||Electronic Arts||1991||with Michael Bartlow|
|Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf||Electronic Arts||1991||with Brian L. Schmidt|
|Road Rash 2||Electronic Arts||1992||with Don Veca and Tony Berkeley|
|The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel||Electronic Arts||1992|
|Desert Strike||Electronic Arts||1992|
|NHL Hockey '95||Electronic Arts||1994|
|From Bedrooms to Billions||2014|
- C64Audio.com, Rob's publisher and record label
- Interview with Rob Hubbard at C64.COM
- Rob Hubbard's profile at MobyGames
- Artist profile at OverClocked ReMix
- Rob Hubbard discography at MusicBrainz
- Rob Hubbard's Music at CVGM
- Rob Hubbard at Last.fm
- Remix64's Interview with Rob Hubbard
- Legends of the C64 article on Rob Hubbard
- C64 Orchestra A classical orchestra that performs C64 game music of Rob Hubbard
- Golden Days of Computer Game Music A talk by Rob Hubbard about his early days composing for the computer game industry