David Whittaker is a British musician who was born on April 24, 1957 in Bury, England. He is one of the most popular video game musicians in the world. He is known for composing such gems as Lazy Jones and Shadow of the Beast, and Glider Rider, which are the top soundtracks that made him popular. Whittaker has probably created more game soundtracks than any other video game musician. Sometimes he was offered so many jobs to do music for games, he would sometimes have to decline and have the jobs given to other composers. David started to compose game music at age 24. According to Whittaker, he claims to have done about 100 game soundtracks for just about every computer and over 400 Commodore 64 soundtracks. He started out playing in a band called Beu Leisure, which he says got quite well known around Altricham. After he bought a Commodore VIC-20, he started to program on it, which he said led him to Mr. Micro and music programming. After some time, it became a full time job for him because he excelled at game music more than other programmers at the time. He was the main composer and sound designer for various developers such as Audiogenic and B.I.T.S.
While Whittaker no longer composes or programs, he still works on video games, doing speech dialogue editing/recording formerly with Electronic Arts and currently with Traveller's Tales. He got the job at E.A. from a call from Rob Hubbard telling him they needed a sound designer, so David lived in the US at that time and got a mansion there. David eventually moved back to the UK since he wasn't pleased with the U.S. economy and he was a little homesick. While some fans call him the best SID composer, Whittaker beleives that Rob Hubbard is truly the best. His favorite computers that he liked to compose on were the Commodore 64 and the Commodore Amiga, with the Commodore VIC-20 being his least favorite. Whittaker says he appreciates the fans' support over the years.
Whittaker was usually good about lending his music engines to other companies. When Manfred Trenz was developing the NES version of Turrican, Whittaker let him use his music engine, which was then modified by Trenz himself. In the SNES era, he lent his sound driver to the Japanese developer Imagineer.
When Dark Technologies developed the NES and Game Boy versions of The Lion King, they used David's sound engine without his permission.
In 1999, ZombieNation, a video game music remix group, stole David Whittaker's Lazy Jones tune for the Kernkraft 400. This got David's attention, so when he called them up, they apologized about it and paid him 9000 GBP to use his song, which he claims he was paid more by ZombieNation than he got paid for the game.
Whittaker also composed the music for some unreleased games including NES ports of Populous and Tip-Off, a basketball game.
Whittaker has been notorious for copying and pasting his music and transposing it to a different key. This is especially true in his NES soundtracks. This was probably because of the difficulty of having to write most of his music in machine code.
He wrote his own audio driver which used a form of Music Macro Language. Whittaker said his instrument samples were taken from his Korg M1, a popular keyboard at the time, and also programmed some waveforms of his own.
The Atari ST version of Loopz says Whittaker used Quartet, a popular music program for the Atari ST. Whittaker probably used this method for all (if not some) of his games, though he also probably coded his own sound engine.
In an interview, David Whittaker said he used a Yamaha CX5 and Jupiter 6. He then wrote his own audio driver in assembly and programmed his music.
Whittaker converted his NES music to the Game Boy using his own audio driver. The music was written in assembly.
Game Gear/Sega Master System
David created a sound engine and wrote the music in assembly. Because David Whittaker did not know FM synthesis programming, he never made a sound engine for the Genesis/Mega Drive.
Because David Whittaker wasn't familiar with FM synthesis, he used Don Veca's sound driver. He created MIDI files in an unknown sequencer which were converted into Veca's driver.
Whittaker converted his Commodore 64 sound driver to work on the NES. Not too difficult since they both used the same assembly language, but he had to account for the difference between the Commodore's SID chip, and the NES chip. Whittaker arranged Neuromantic Productions music in many ports of Krusty's Fun House. David was known for lending out his driver to companies that needed it. Whittaker licensed his audio driver to Manfred Trenz for him to use in his Super Turrican NES game. The sound driver was later modified and used by Manfred to compose music. David's driver was also used by Dark Technologies for their only NES title The Lion King. However, David says that he didn't give them permission to use their driver and that he didn't lend it to them.
David wrote his own audio driver in assembly. His instruments were sampled from his Amiga samples from the Korg M1. He would sell his sound driver to companies like Psygnosis for £5000.
David with his Korg M1; .
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,800/ - MobyGames.
- linkedin.com/profile/view?id=43051881&locale=en_US&trk=tyah2 - LinkedIn.
- twitter.com/dialogueguru - Twitter.
- facebook.com/david.whittaker.9210 - Facebook.
- youtube.com/user/DialogueGuru - YouTube.
- youtube.com/watch?v=iFH5vS1EqNs&t=1m34s - Video Interview.
- www.zzap64.co.uk/cgi-bin/displaypage.pl?issue=016&page=040&magazine=zzap - Interview with Rob Hubbard, Ben Daglish, Antony Crowther and Whittaker at the same time from August 1986.
- craigsretrocomputingpage.eu5.org/davidwhittaker/davidwhittaker.html - Interview from 1987.
- st-news.com/issues/st-news-volume-2-issue-7/features/interview-with-david-whittaker/ - Interview from October 31, 1987.
- karsmakers.nl/metal-e-zine/david.htm - Interview from September 1998.
- web.archive.org/web/20101228171348/http://www.c64.com/audio/David%20Whittaker%20%5BBack%20in%20Time%20Live%202001%20interview%5D.mp3 - Audio Interview from 2001.
- c64.com/interviews/whittaker.html - Interview from July 2001 or later.
- remix64.com/interviews/interview-david-whittaker.html - Interview from October 2, 2001.