Project Nayuki


Transcription of Pokémon Game Boy music

A modest collection of songs I transcribed from the Pokémon series of Game Boy games, with an emphasis on musical accuracy.

Game series Track title Score MIDI Rendered Tempo (BPM) Key (major)
Pokémon RGBY Pallet Town PDF MIDI 120.6 G
Pokémon RGBY Viridian, Pewter, Saffron City PDF MIDI 134.0 E
Pokémon RGBY Cerulean, Fuchsia City PDF MIDI 130.3 E
Pokémon RGBY Vermilion City PDF MIDI 123.6 A
Pokémon RGBY Celadon City PDF MIDI 134.0 G
Pokémon RGBY Cinnabar Island PDF MIDI 134.0 G
Pokémon RGBY Viridian Forest PDF MIDI 134.0 N/A
Pokémon RGBY Mt. Moon PDF MIDI 120.6 N/A
Pokémon RGBY Pokémon Center PDF MIDI 134.0 D
Pokémon RGBY Gym PDF MIDI 139.8 F
Pokémon RGBY Game Corner PDF MIDI 160.8 E
Pokémon RGBY Rocket Hideout PDF MIDI 134.0 N/A
Pokémon RGBY Indigo Plateau PDF MIDI 146.1 F
Pokémon RGBY Route 1 PDF MIDI 126.9 D
Pokémon RGBY Route 3 PDF MIDI 130.3 C
Pokémon RGBY Route 11 PDF MIDI 130.3 E
Pokémon RGBY Route 24 PDF MIDI 126.9 E
Pokémon RGBY Bicycle PDF MIDI 134.0 C
Pokémon RGBY Surfing PDF MIDI 120.6 A
Pokémon RGBY Wild Pokémon battle PDF MIDI 185.5 C
Pokémon RGBY Trainer battle PDF MIDI 172.2 C
Pokémon RGBY Gym leader battle PDF MIDI 185.5 E
Pokémon RGBY Wild Pokémon defeated PDF MIDI 172.2 E
Pokémon RGBY Trainer defeated PDF MIDI 172.2 D
Pokémon RGBY Gym leader defeated PDF MIDI 172.2 D
Pokémon GSC New Bark Town PDF MIDI 103.1 D
Pokémon GSC Cherrygrove City, Mahogany Town PDF MIDI 126.9 F
Pokémon GSC Violet, Olivine City PDF MIDI 117.6 B
Pokémon GSC Azalea Town, Blackthorn City PDF MIDI 120.6 C♯
Pokémon GSC Goldenrod City PDF MIDI 109.6 C♯
Pokémon GSC Ecruteak, Cianwood City PDF MIDI 98.0 C
Pokémon GSC Pallet Town PDF MIDI 102.6 G
Pokémon GSC Viridian, Pewter, Cerulean, Saffron City; Cinnabar Island PDF MIDI 122.9 D
Pokémon GSC Celadon, Fuchsia City PDF MIDI 132.2 G
Pokémon GSC Pokémon Center PDF MIDI 126.9 D
Pokémon GSC Ruins of Alph PDF MIDI 120.6 N/A
Pokémon GSC Route 1 PDF MIDI 104.9 D
Pokémon GSC Route 29 PDF MIDI 132.1 C

Notes

I have been doing musical transcriptions for a long time, way before this web site came into existence. 6 of the songs here were first transcribed by me in year 2003, 2 songs in 2014 and 2015 combined, and the remaining bulk in late 2016. In late 2016 I decided to unearth my dark collection of Pokémon Game Boy music transcriptions for publishing. I cleaned up and edited the data, put them on a new page, and continued the transcription journey by adding a bunch of new songs.

Accuracy

The Game Boy’s sound hardware makes my job of transcribing songs tremendously easier and more accurate than transcribing most other pieces of music. The key feature is that it has 4 monophonic channels of audio, each playing either a single note or silence. By listening to each channel independently in a Game Boy emulator, I was able to transcribe every channel with perfect pitch and no guessing. Comments about specific aspects of accuracy:

Pitch

The pitch of each note is determined by looking at peaks in a Fourier transform. This mathematical-visual method of pitch determination is far more reliable and accurate than telling pitch by ear, though slower and not intuitive. I judge pitch by ear when working with easy major scales because this is faster, but fall back to the technical method for the first note in a song and for semitone/accidental-heavy sequences (such as Team Rocket and dungeon themes).

A very small number of musical pieces use microtonal features (such as Ruins of Alpha), but they were not significant so I just quantized them to the nearest standard pitch. Many pieces use vibrato on long notes, but I ignored this out of simplicity.

A corollary of pitch accuracy is that all chords are accurate. Some chords are notoriously hard to pick up by ear in a polyphonic music recording. But because I transcribe each monophonic channel independently, it is easy to hit all chords correctly by design.

Octave

Alongside pitch accuracy is octave-accuracy – not only do I identify that a note is C, I also specify unambiguously whether it’s a C3, C4, C5, etc. Identifying octave consistently is not easy by ear, but is a breeze with technical analysis.

Tempo

I listen to one repetition of a song and count the number of bars and beats in it. Using an audio editor, I measure the exact length of one repeat and do some division to calculate the tempo. The tempo is given to one decimal place, e.g. 123.4 BPM. In reality, the Game Boy music itself has an unsteady tempo, possibly due to inconsistent scheduling of the execution of audio subroutines.

Rhythm

All notes are accurately quantized to a quarter note, eighth note, triplet, etc. with no guessing. Additionally, special care is given to the trailing edge of some notes – for example I distinguish between {3.5 beat note + 0.5 beat rest} versus 4.0 beat note.

Volume

Each channel in the original Game Boy music is played at a different volume, and I add dynamic indicators in the sheet music and MIDI sequences to crudely express this fact. This is by no means the pinnacle of accuracy, but it sounds significantly better than if all the channels were played at the same volume.

Stereo

On the Game Boy, each channel of audio can play on the left, right, or both channels. The Pokémon RGBY games do not use this feature at all, but most of the Pokémon GSC songs do use this. In the MIDI file (but not the PDF score) the stereo pan is encoded accurately. Most songs use a fixed stereo pan for each channel, but some songs do change the stereo pan in the middle of the song.

Game info

Collections at other sites