16-bit music refers to the musical pieces produced on the sound chips of video game consoles and personal computers that were prevalent in the late 1980s to mid-1990s. These systems were equipped with audio hardware that was capable of producing 16-bit digital sound.
The 16-bit sound chips were used to produce music and sound effects for video games, which were played on systems such as the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), and Commodore Amiga. The music produced on these systems was generated using synthesis techniques, such as frequency modulation (FM) synthesis and pulse-code modulation (PCM) synthesis, rather than recorded samples of real-world instruments.
FM synthesis involves using algorithms to create sounds that mimic the harmonic structures of real-world instruments, such as pianos, drums, and horns. PCM synthesis involves using digital recordings of real-world instruments, which are then played back at different pitches to create musical pieces.
While the 16-bit music produced on these systems was limited by the technical capabilities of the sound chips, it was still capable of producing a wide range of musical styles, including orchestral, electronic, and rock music. Some of the most memorable pieces of 16-bit music were created for video games, such as the theme music for "Super Mario Bros." on the NES and "Sonic the Hedgehog" on the Genesis.
In conclusion, 16-bit music was produced using synthesis techniques, such as FM and PCM, rather than recorded samples of real-world instruments. Despite the limitations of the sound chips, 16-bit music was capable of producing a wide range of musical styles and was an important part of the video game industry during the late 1980s to mid-1990s.