|Dr. Robert J. Hubbard|
Rob Hubbard is a British composer and sound designer who is known to be one of the most (if not the most) renowned video game musicians of all time. He could be considered the Koji Kondo of the Commodore 64.
Hubbard has been playing the piano since age 7 and has also played flute, saxophone and guitar. His favorite subjects were math, physics and music, whereas he hated history, economics and metalwork. With O- and A-Levels, he went to university, but dropped out to play keyboards in bands. At age 21, he moved to Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear. Before or afterwards, he attended music college for 3 years.
In 1983, Hubbard read in Electronic & Music Maker about the Commodore 64 and American educational software for platforms like the Apple II. He also considered the Memotech MTX500, but bought the C64 when its price dropped to £230. Dreaming of writing the first British educational software, he showed a sight-reading game to companies, to no avail. In 1984, he ported and scored two games for Ubik Software, which went bankrupt before release. He then decided to specialize on audio and spammed for about 8 months by mail and phone. Monty on the Run (C64) made him famous.
At an award show in London 1987, Mark Lewis of Electronic Arts asked Hubbard if he wanted to work in the USA for a couple of months. After Skate or Die (C64), EA offered him a permanent job in California as their first audio guy. So in 1988, Hubbard sold his ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Ataris, his PAL C64, gave away the Amiga and moved to the USA, fulfilling a childhood dream and changing his life. In late 2001, he moved back to East Yorkshire with his wife, an NTSC C64 and two disk drives.
On November 25, 2016, Hubbard received a honorary degree from Abertay University, Dundee, Scotland.
Hubbard's favorite musician was David Whittaker.
Hubbard developed his own music driver in Mikro Assembler and implemented many previously unheard and oft-imitated effects and sounds. Many composers used his driver, including Giulio Zicchi, Johannes Bjerregaard, Pablo Toledo, and before scoring games, Jeroen Kimmel, Jeroen Tel, Neil Baldwin and Thomas Petersen. Hubbard was furious (specifically at Kimmel, who was first) and scrambled his code and data in most of 1987. He no longer has the source code to his pre-EA driver. It is rumored that a housecleaner threw away his disks while he was staying at a hotel.
Hubbard would write the music on paper in normal musical notation and alongside the notes, he would write hexadecimal numbers which he would then type into his sound engine. Hubbard would always ask the programmers what kind of music they wanted in the game, but they usually didn't care. He would sometimes write music on his Casiotone MT-40.
In mid-1986, Hubbard started using SID's built-in filter. Unfortunately, the filter varied with every machine and several of Hubbard's melodies sounded muffled to many gamers. In VICE 3.4, they sound best with 6581 (ReSID) and a bias of at least 540, although how close it is to what Hubbard arranged on is unconfirmed.
Inspired by Mega Apocalypse (C64), Hubbard spent 1½ hours adding 4-bit sample playback to his driver, the first to loop samples in the middle. He recorded instruments (including chords from a Yamaha DX7) and voices on an Amiga with a newly-bought FutureSound sampler, compressed them, determined frequencies using an electronic tuner (eventually 1455 to 8315 Hz), and transferred all to the C64.
Hubbard was paid by Elite Systems to come in and write the music to their conversion of Capcom's Coin-Op arcade Commando. Hubbard came in the office late at night and worked throughout the evening to compose the music. According to Hubbard, Elite Systems had the arcade cabinet of the game in the office, and he drew inspiration from the arcade game's music, but didn't actually arrange the arcade soundtrack to the Commodore 64 version. Hubbard finished the music by morning. Mark Cooksey witnessed that. According to Hubbard, he put the music on all the work computers before he left the office so the Elite staff could hear his composition.
Rob was one of the very few composers to use the 2A03's DPCM channel for music, as he used a sawtooth wave.
Staff photo from Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs (GEN)
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,6/ - MobyGames.
facebook.com/rob.hubbard.31 - Facebook(Hubbard closed the account ("too many opinionated people") and the username has been given to another Rob Hubbard)
- uk.linkedin.com/pub/rob-hubbard/47/83a/853 - LinkedIn.
- soundcloud.com/user-533729915 - SoundCloud.
- web.archive.org/web/20060929094725/http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/tcworh/int_elec.htm - Interview from Electronic & Music Maker, circa late 1985.
- archive.org/details/CommodoreHorizonsIssue261986Feb300dpi/page/n31 - Interview from Commodore Horizons, February 1986.
- live.worldofspectrum.org/infoseek/magazines/computer--video-games/56#72 - Interview from Computer + Video Games, June 1986.
- www.zzap64.co.uk/cgi-bin/displaypage.pl?issue=016&page=040&magazine=zzap - Group Interview with Hubbard, Ben Daglish, Antony Crowther and David Whittaker from ZZAP! 64 No.16, August 1986.
- archive.org/details/CommodoreUserIssue391986Dec/page/n119 - Profile from Commodore User, December 1986.
- www.zzap64.co.uk/cgi-bin/displaypage.pl?issue=021&page=047&magazine=zzap - Profile from ZZAP! 64 No.21, December 1986.
- www.zzap64.co.uk/cgi-bin/displaypage.pl?issue=026&page=052&magazine=zzap - News from ZZAP! 64 No. 26, June 1987.
- st-news.com/issues/st-news-volume-2-issue-5/features/interview-with-rob-hubbard/ - Interview from July 25, 1987.
- craigsretrocomputingpage.eu5.org/robhubbard/robhubbard.html - Interview from The Games Machine, October 1987.
- zakalwe.fi/~shd/texts/imr/c09hubba.htm - Interview from March 15, 1996.
- web.archive.org/web/20010714072715/http://mono211.com/gamegeekpeeks/robh.html - Interview from circa 1997.
- sidmusic.org/sid/rhubbard.html - Interviews from Commodore Zone in 1997 or 1998 and Happy-Computer 7/86 (translated from German).
- karsmakers.nl/metal-e-zine/robb.htm - Interview from September 1998.
- web.archive.org/web/20020211210207/http://www.freenetpages.co.uk:80/hp/tcworh/int_6581.htm - Audio Interview and Transcript from September 28, 1999.
- web.archive.org/web/20060929094802/http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/tcworh/int_game.htm - Interview from circa 1999.
- web.archive.org/web/20010723113418/http://www.freenetpages.co.uk:80/hp/tcworh/intviews.htm - Interview from July 17, 2000.
- remix64.com/interviews/interview-rob-hubbard.html - Interview from March 30, 2001.
- web.archive.org/web/20021017140546/http://www.freenetpages.co.uk:80/hp/tcworh/profile.htm - Profile from June 12, 2001.
- web.archive.org/web/20101228205440/http://www.c64.com/audio/Rob%20Hubbard%20%5BBack%20in%20Time%20Live%202001%20interview%5D.mp3 - Audio Interview from 2001.
- c64.com/interviews/hubbard.html - Interview from circa late 2001.
- web.archive.org/web/20021223070805/http://c64audio.valuehost.co.uk/edge/ca_hubbard.htm - Interview from November 2002.
- youtube.com/watch?v=DiPdjbsiQqM - The Golden Days of Computer Game Music
youtube.com/watch?v=kJ_xk_sfNRE - Hubbard on composing Commando (C64)
- youtube.com/watch?v=Mf09oRuF3Eg - Hubbard on creating music and sound effects on the Commodore 64.
- youtube.com/watch?v=ao92PVEHG3c&t=21m40s - Interview from June 8, 2017.
- arcadeattack.co.uk/rob-hubbard-chris-abbott/ - Interview from October 26, 2017.
- retrogamesmaster.co.uk/rob-hubbard/ - Interview from December 23, 2017.