|Mark Thomas William Cooksey|
Mark Cooksey is a British composer who has been working on video game music ever since the 1980s and is one of the better known game musicians.
Cooksey played the piano as a small child and used computers at school around 1982. In 1984, he bought himself an Oric Atmos with 32k and left school with A-Levels in Chemistry, Physics (his favorite subject) and General Studies. He then unsuccessfully looked for a job in electronics or physics.
In February 1985, Elite Systems were looking for programmers at the local job centre. Finding it close enough, Cooksey applied as a trainee games programmer and landed an interview with the boss, Brian Wilcox, the next day. At the end, Cooksey was tasked with programming a music driver in assembly for his Oric and arranging Airwolf Main Theme on it. Over the weekend, he did it using a very simple assembler he had programmed in BASIC. On this basis, he got employed "more or less on the spot", tasked with arranging the same song on someone else's Commodore 64 music driver, and next, and unexpectedly, with composing music for almost all of Elite's games.
Elite made Cooksey a freelancer from 1987 to 1988 and laid him off in 1991 to raise money for self-publishing. While working at Elite, he moved on to their division MotiveTime, which paid their employees bonuses for based on Elite's profits. However, the bonuses gradually got lower and eventually disappeared. He later worked for NMS Software, which was a bunch of former Elite staff members. Cooksey also worked for Arc Developments and created the sound engines there.
Cooksey's best known soundtracks are Bomb Jack (C64), Paperboy (C64), and Ghosts 'n Goblins (C64), which have had tons of remixes by C64 music fans alike. Cooksey continues to compose game soundtracks to this day and he even plays in a band. Cooksey says that writing music for video games inspired him to compose and play music.
As of 2001, he still has an Oric Atmos and a Commodore 64 and donated his Amstrad CPC and his Sanyo 286 PC to a cancer charity.
For 1985, Cooksey was given the driver from Neil Bate's games, where all songs were tuned at 433.5 Hz, and Novaload.
By April 1986, he had created his own driver. On his first 3 games, it was tuned at 423.9 Hz.
By autumn 1988, he had created a different, better driver. On 2 games, he used a bass drum sample and a snare drum sample by Christoph Bergmann and a hi-hat sample from a 1987 demo song, either from Music by Cavi 2 by Geert Vandevenne or more likely from Nemesis by Marco Swagerman.
Game Gear/Sega Master System
Genesis / Mega Drive
Cooksey composed MIDI files which were converted to his 68000 sound driver. Cooksey said he had a very difficult time programming instruments on it. During the development of Paperboy, Cooksey had Sega send him instruments.
All of Cooksey's NES music was composed in Notator for the Atari ST. He then converted the MIDI files in Notator to the NES. Cooksey also programmed his own sound driver for the NES. According to Cooksey, he was primarily trying to get "flutey" sounds out of the NES. His music was played back from a memory box from Spidersoft.
The game Joe & Mac uses digitized drum samples, which Cooksey says may have been supplied by Richard Frankish.
Official Gameography: https://sites.google.com/site/mtwmusicsite/7-games-i-ve-worked-on
He was sometimes called "Tony Deaf", in order to avoid prohibiting game credits from most developers.
- sites.google.com/site/mtwmusicsite/ - Official.
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,52182/ - MobyGames.
- facebook.com/mark.cooksey.14 - Facebook.
- linkedin.com/profile/view?id=8168084 - LinkedIn.
- youtube.com/channel/UCKMaua8gW_DgIJ33LaXrebQ - YouTube.
- remix64.com/interviews/interview-mark-cooksey.html - Interview from May 17, 2001.
- amp.dascene.net/detail.php?view=4597&detail=interview - Interview from 2001.