This is one of the weirder stories you might read today, this week of even this month.
The year was 1996 and I was in my room in my dad’s apartment in Örebro, Sweden. I was 19 years old by the time and I’d been producing music for a couple of years. 1996 was before the MP3 revolution and sharing music using 28.8 kbps modems hooked up to the phone line was tough. While I was recording my music as WAV files those where literally impossible to upload so I recorded my own cassette tapes and handed out to friends and family.
There was, however, one file format which was small and could be shared over the Internet; MIDI files. A MIDI file only contains the note data meaning that when a note it played, how hard it’s hit and for how long it’s held. MIDI files also contains some sound information but nothing more fancy than “play this melody using sound number 91”. For everyone to be able to enjoy the file, we had to agree which sound number 91 was going to be. Luckily there was an organisation deciding this for us and presented a list of 128 sounds, a bit like how emojis work today. The MIDI organisation didn’t decide what the sounds should sound like but just described them with a few words. Here’s a list of what was available to us in the “General MIDI” standard.
I composed my own MIDI files and shared with my friends in the #midi channel on the Undernet IRC server.
On evening in 1996 I wrote a song which I named “The Dance of the Spheares” (which I know is misspelled). I don’t remember if I had a Geocities website or any other website at that time, but I sent the song to my friends and pretty much just forgot about it.
In 1997, I did the Swedish military service and went into a deep depression following it. I got a job a few months after I was out of the service, moved from my safe room in my dad’s apartment to my very own place. I also changed my family name from Karlsson (my dad’s family name) to Lilja (my mom’s family name). “David Lilja” had a better ring and sound to it and was way less common than “David Karlsson”.
The MP3 revolution happened and I was now recording music with almost CD quality and was able to release what I’ve done onto the mp3.com website and had completely forgot about “The Dance of the Spheares”. My main focus musically was Spacesynth (a sort of Italo-Disco but without vocals) using the artist name “mindXpander” and Goa-Trance using the artist name “Ypsilon 5”.
There was this guy called “St0rmCat” who released a competitive version of Tetris as an online game called TetriNet. He needed a song that was played while the participants played against each other and came across “The Dance of the Spheares” on some long forgotten website. He put it in the game and that was that. I never knew about it until about 15, or so, years later and completely missing the song’s full glory being blasted loud at computer game expos and competitions.
Told you it’s a weird story 😄
Reading the comments to this new version still makes me smile. It’s an honour being part of this legacy.