Take my input with a grain of salt, as I'm not a musician, but I do have very high (and often unreasonable) standards in music. And please note I am not trying to be mean or anything, but am trying to give honest and helpful feedback. Please do not let me discourage you:
Your proposed theme for Chaos isn't half bad, but I do have some input for how it could be improved.
1) Pick up the tempo. This is battle music, it should be fast paced and trying to get you pumped. Upping the tempo is a cheap and easy way to accomplish that. Another cheap and easy way to do this is to just double the speed of the bassline without actually changing the tempo. The bass playing more notes in rapid succession gives the illusion that the song is moving faster than it really is (example of this below)
2) FF1's music engine doesn't support a noise channel. Sucks, but unless you can write it into the engine, you'll have to do without it and work with just the squares+tri.
3) The melody at 0:32 -- and especially after it's expanded at 0:39 -- is nice and catchy enough, but is stylistically misleading. This is supposedly the epic boss fight, yet when I hear that melody is seems more like a frolic through a sunny pasture. Again, it's not bad
, it just doesn't fit with the mood you have to set.
4) The melody comes to a complete halt at 0:46 and you basically are left with dead air until 0:49 (with nothing but the bassline keeping the beat). I get why you did it -- you had to wait for the measures to be right -- and in another kind of song it could be passable, but for battle music it simply can't fly. And especially for the final boss. A trick you can do here is rather than have the melody finish and then wait for the measures to line up -- you can have the melody run into
the measure for the loop and have them play over each other.
Examples of #1 and #4 can be found in the ever popular Wily 1 stage music from Megaman 2:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4VtxWRfPOk
Regarding point #1: Notice how the bass is really just playing the same note over and over -- but because it plays lots of really short notes, it gives the illusion that the music is fast-paced (even if it isn't really), and therefore gets you really pumped up.
Regarding point #4: You can hear the classic and famous hook to this song at 0:07 to 0:10. It repeats every couple of measures. In the timeframe between those measures, the game slips in different melodies. Sometimes, though, the melodies run a little long and end up playing simultaneously over the hook. Notably... at around 0:38, it finishes up the melody just in time for the hook... but the next melody doesn't quite make it (around 0:49) so the two overlap each other.
You could do something like this in your song. Rather than having the melody stop to wait for the loop to line up, you can just have the loop start a little early and have your ending melody run long and play over it.
And since I feel like rambling some more about music theory, and because I'm interested in this project... here's some more blabbing.
One of the best retro-style boss theme songs I can think of is from Cave Story:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdAzVhCof_4
Now granted this is a cheat because this is not an NES game and it literally had no limitations on what it could do. But that doesn't mean we can't learn from it. In fact, it highlights a lot of key things that make for good boss music:
- Point #1 from above: Bassline has a lot of really short notes to make the song seem fast paced. Though this song goes further and does it with harmony tracks, too. Particularly with the support at 0:31.
- It builds up like a mofo. In fact that is what I like most about this song.
At 0:01, It starts out low key, establishes a rhythm for later in the song. You might think the first 10 seconds here are nothing to write home about and and just an introductory bassline like what you hear in the first few seconds of the FF fight theme... but they're not. More on this below.
at 0:11 it switches to what I guess you could call the main melody (if this song has one). And while this melody is not really a hook, it sets the mood reasonably well, while keeping it low key and suspenseful.
At 0:26 - 0:31 it has a really clever segue... I almost want to say it's a bridge, but it's sort of like a bridge to the bridge. It's just a short few seconds but in that time it does a tremendous amount of build-up. Strangely (or geniusly?) it does this not by raising the pitch of the melody or even the bass, but by raising the pitch of the supporting harmony
and keeping everything else the same. Really listen
to the 'buzzy' instrument that's kind of in the background of those 5 seconds (particularly at the end). What it's doing isn't even really that complex... or even interesting
on its own. But its role in the music is key -- it is responsible for the entire shift in tone of the song.
After that, at 0:31 we have the proper bridge, which does even more buildup. The bleepy-bloopy harmony that plays does a great job at setting up suspense, by actually having a descending
chord progression. But again, while that focused and in-your face bleepy-bloopy harmony is actually dropping
in pitch... listen again to the downplayed 'buzz' harmony. It's doing its thing again here, playing a very simple tune that rises in pitch while everything else is dropping -- again changing the entire tone for the song.
While finally reaching the climax at 0:54. And get this... for as awesome and epic as this climax is... it is just 3 notes
. What makes it great is not only does it mix the decreasing melody with an increasing support (the bass, this time), but it reprises the rhythm from the intro of the song
. This is brilliant not only because it contrasts with the melody so well, but also because it leads to a seamless loop transition -- the melody can simply stop, the bass can keep playing what it was, and the song has looped.
This song is brilliant, and is one of my all-time favorite retro-style boss themes.