Behind the Video: Canon Trio

not-coding youtube minecraft

I posted a video of myself accompanying C418 (and myself), playing Pachelbel’s Canon.


C418 is Minecraft’s music composer. All the tunes you hear in the game, including the music discs, are his.

I listen to a lot of music while working and more oten than not I launch a C418 album on Spotify. He’s made many albums before Minecraft and even after and I constantly look forward to more.

On his Bandcamp/site you can find all lots of music and listen to it for free. There’s also interesting commentary on each album.

Here are some of my favoties:

Harp Legacy

I’ve played Piano a little bit when I was younger. Some people have said that as I aged, I simply moved my fingers from keys to keyboard.

This is why I absolutely love playing music in games. One game I’ve played a lot is Guild Wars 2. It has a bunch of different instruments, including an harp, a bass guitar, bells and whatnot (I also own The Minstrel & Verdarach).

I have a different video on my channel where I play Clair de Lune in Guild Wars 2 with the in-game Harp:

You wouldn’t imagine how much Gw2 harp I’ve played.

Block Band

I also love rythm games, like Rock Band / Guitar Hero. When I was 10, Flash games were all the rage if you didn’t own a console. One of my favorite flash game was “Super Crazy Guitar Maniac Deluxe 3” (there’s also a 2 & 4).

Good rythm games are rare and far apart on PC. Recently there’s a fairly obscure indie game I’ve played a decent chunk called Chiptune Champion.

I’ve created my own version of those games, a mix of the two above, called Block Band. I started working on it at The Chunk (a now-defunct minigames network). I worked for Hypixel a bit, then somehow got to work on Block Band again on Cubecraft. The game was released and ran on Cubecraft for about a year. Sadly, it was even more niche than I anticipated, I think mainly because of latency’s impact on the game experience.

The game had really cool tech behind it. When joining the Block Band lobby, you would get an URL in chat that you could click. When opening up the page, your browser would play music. The browser and game server were connected. When you started a song in-game, it would play on the browser. The system was inspired by BlockParty on HiveMC. If I had to do it again, I would use noteblock songs played in-game, to avoid desync problems between gameplay and audio.

Block Band also had a song editor, both one version for The Chunk and a v2.0 for CC.

Block Band Editor

There was also factually too much content shipped with the game. 25+ songs! (5 could’ve done the trick)

The song mapping format to put the frets to be played was plaintext/yaml. I even edited a few of the early songs manually using Notepad++.

This is an example of the song format, mapping Forest Dance from Wynncraft: Block Band Example Song

Here is the game in action:

The Hypixel Synthesizer

For Christmas 2018 on Hypixel, one of the items offered in store bundles was a synthesizer gadget.

It lets people play notes in lobbies. Nearby players can hear them play or they can play together.

I remember its origin well. I was lying in bed at night worrying about the past, thinking about Block Band’s input method I had explained to someone during the day. Then I had a sudden flash of, remembering keyboard shortcuts I had added in the new Bed Wars menu.

I kinda jumped straight out of bed and went straight to creating the first prototype in a few hours.

I dealt with the input packets directly to minimize latency, so I also had to deal with some client-side prediction reverts (that’s why the “keyboard” buttons are in the hotbar). When packets are involved there’s also usually a fair amount of “R&D” looking into how the client behaves, so I won’t completely explains how it works.

I was so delighted when I found out chords (multiple notes at the same time) could be played. This virtual instrument also had very low latency (lower than Gw2) and thus felt good to play.

Minecraft supports pitch adjustements over 2 octaves, starting in F#. So I remapped the Cmajor intervals to F# (there are probably some fancier musical terms for this). I could’ve supported “black” notes on a piano, but wanted to keep it simple / re-use the song sheets I had accumulated from Gw2. I implemented octave switching using the drop key from Minecraft (defaults to Q). I was really used to RT keys for switching, but my skills still carried over from Gw2.

I also added an instrument selector. I tried to include the sounds that distorted the least on pitch change and didn’t have multiple sound files per id.

The trio

I’ve played Canon with other people across the world on the virtual harp on many occasions. One of the better rendition using keyboard notation looks like this:

Gw2 harp notes

In fact I remember playing Canon, on the Hypixel synthesizer, playing with a YT video of Canon in F#.

It was only today while listening to “One” by C418 that I remembered his rendition of Canon in the song “I Glove Thy Flob”, which even includes a Minecraft note block tram. The notes above even match 1-1 most of that noteblock sequence in thy flob. I only had to remix the order of the paragraphs, playing “Blank, B, C, D, F, E, F” on the melody and “Blank, A, B, right C, right E, right F, right E” on the lower part. The best of the effect is at 3:00 in the video.

It was impossible to go more full circle than this, so despite some faults in the interpretation, it had to be done. Trioing with C418 and twice myself. Could be a quartet if we count building the instrument.

V Btw, I added navigation to prev/next post below V