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Rob Hubbard

February 27th, 2007

Rob Hubbard (born 1956, Kingston upon Hull, England), is a music composer best known for his composition of computer game theme music, especially for microcomputers of the 1980s such as the Commodore 64. His work showed the real potential of both the Commodore 64’s sound hardware and the ability of good music to improve the gaming experience.

In the late seventies, before scoring games, he was a professional studio musician. He decided to teach himself BASIC and machine code for the Commodore 64.

Writing a few demos and some educational software for learning music, he approached Gremlin Graphics in 1985 with samples of his work, to attempt to market his software. Gremlin were more interested in the tunes than the software and he was asked to create the soundtrack for Thing on a Spring, a platform game. Hubbard created a theme that mixed violins, electric guitars, and amusing basslines.

Hubbard went on to write or convert themes for games such as Monty on the Run, Crazy Comets, Master of Magic and Commando. Some of his most famous tunes include also Thrust, Spellbound, Sanxion, Auf Wiedersehen Monty and Ricochet. The game Knucklebusters includes Hubbard’s longest tune that is 17 minutes long.

After working for several different companies, in 1989 he left Newcastle to work for Electronic Arts in America as a composer. He was the first person devoted to sound and music at EA, and did everything from low-level programming to composing. He became Audio Technical Director, a more administrative job, involving deciding which technologies to use in the games, and which to develop further. After Commodore 64 period he wrote some soundtracks for PC -games and Sega Megadrive/Genesis. His most famous post-C64 work is probably soundtrack for Skate or Die game in which he emulates distorted guitar sound with AdLib soundcard (Amiga conversion with actual guitar samples is probably not made by Hubbard).

Hubbard recently contributed a few re-arrangements of his themes to Chris Abbott’s Back in Time Live C64 tribute. Hubbard has performed several times with the Danish C64 cover-band PRESS PLAY ON TAPE who have covered many of his early tunes using a full rock-band arrangement. Hubbard has also performed his old music on piano with the support of violinist madfiddler.

In 2005, music from International Karate was performed live by a full orchestra at the third Symphonic Game Music Concert. The event took place in Leipzig, Germany. Hubbard arranged and orchestrated the piece.

Hubbard left EA in 2002 and returned to England. He has recently resumed playing in a band, and has even revisited his past game music work in concert. Recent composition jobs have included music for mobile phone games. His original SID music can be found from The High Voltage SID Collection.

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