If I were smart, years ago I would have tracked down Dan Froelich and asked him what he used to write his funky CMF soundtracks for Jill of the Jungle, Solar Winds, Xargon, and other early Epic MegaGames stuff. Turns out I no longer need to, as he has written about his experience on his website. It seems he tracked his early game music in AdLib Visual Composer, a program that spoke to AdLib’s Yamaha FM chip (not dissimilar from the Sega Genesis chip) using a combination of piano rolls and FM instrument banks. Those elements were later crunched together into .CMF files for use with early Sound Blaster cards. To give a rare peek at the raw AdLib sound, Froelich has included clips of his Jill of the Jungle score, exported into ProTools. Cool beans!
So for anyone who wants to write early 1990s shareware music, that’s how the experts do it. Or rather, how an expert did it. I’m sure there are other methods.