MIDI AND MUSIC
MIDI software patch editors, librarians, sequencers and more
By Jim Pierson-Perry
With its built-in MIDI ports and low cost, the ST is widely regarded as the new "musicians' computer." ST MIDI programs range from a player-piano simulation (based on real piano rolls) to a professional 64-track sequencer system. Atari Corp. is helping to spearhead this MIDI invasion by encouraging music stores to sell ST computers.
To use most of this flood of MIDI software, you need only your ST and a MIDI-equipped synthesizer, such as the Yamaha DX-7 or the Casio CZ-101. Of course, the more MIDI equipment you have (samplers, drum boxes and expanders, for example) the more involved your music can be--and the more you'll appreciate having the ST to hold it all together!
Here we'll cover five types of MIDI software: music players, sequencers, scoring programs, librarians, and patch/sample editors. Each category has programs with various levels of features, and there is some overlap between them. Unless stated otherwise, you can run all of these programs on any ST.
MUSIC PLAYER PROGRAMS
A player program uses a data file to reproduce music on a MIDI instrument (typically a synthesizer)--sort of a digital jukebox. Some player programs let you enter musical data in step-time along with non-music control events, such as changing the synthesizer voice or the tempo. These programs also may offer song playback through the ST's internal monitor speaker as well as external MIDI instruments. For a player program, availability of prerecorded music on ST disks or as BBS files is important, unless you only want to hear your own playing.
Music Studio ($59.95) The definitive home music program. Step-time music entry for four independent music tracks with complete score printout. Playback can be through MIDI and/or a programmable internal three-voice synthesizer that plays through the monitor speaker. Over 200 song data files are available on bulletin board systems. Designed with the Casio CZ synths in mind. Activision, Inc., 2350 Bayshore Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94039. (415) 960-0410
Bach Songbook, Dr. Keys, and Dr. Drums ($29.00 each) Prerecorded music files in the Dr. T sequencer format for selections from J. S. Bach, chord progressions/sample riffs, and drum patterns. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston St., Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954
MIDIplay ($49.00) Combination player and one-track sequencer. Works with prerecorded Music disks (12 songs per disk at $19.95 each). Real-time sequencer can playback through MIDI or programmable internal synthesizer through the monitor speaker. No editing functions. Electronic Music Publishing House, Inc., 2210 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 488, Santa Monica, CA 90403. (213) 455-2025
MIDI Magic ($39.95) This MIDI player piano uses prerecorded music disks (six songs per disk at $19.95 each). You can't create your own song files, but there are currently more than 100 music disks available--digital encodings of piano rolls, some originally cut by Scott Joplin, George Gershwin and Liberace. Color systems only. Micro-W Distributing Inc., 1342B Route 23, Butler, NJ 07405. (201) 838-9027
ST Music Box ($49.95) Create your own music by step-time entry of music and MIDI control data for up to eight voices across four MIDI channels. You can change tempo or MIDI instrument patches every measure with playback through MIDI or the monitor speaker. Limited score printout provided via a separate program. Separate versions sold for color or monochrome systems. Xlent Software, P.O. Box 5228, Springfield, VA 22150. (703) 644-8881
A sequencer records real-time or step-time input of MIDI music and controller data. Some versions allow sophisticated editing and music manipulation functions. Sequencers are like multi-track tape recorders and many such programs use a tape recorder-style user interface. The more powerful sequencers allow editing and chaining of individual music passages (sequences) to build a song.
A good sequencer program lets you edit music data much the same as you would edit text with a word processor--you insert or delete passages, and cut and paste repeated sections. You also need external syncing if the song is to be tied to a drum machine or tape deck. Other useful features are note timing correction, a metronome to keep steady time while playing, punch-in and punch-out to overdub and correct bad notes, and the ability to address system-exclusive functions of your MIDI equipment.
Transform-Xtrack ($149.95) The primary sequencer module for TRANSFORM MIDI software. Co-resident under GEM with other modules. Real or step-time music entry with graphical MIDI event editing under mouse control. Song pointer for SMPTE. Beam Team, 6100 Adeline Street, Oakland, CA 94608. (415) 658-3208
MIDI Recording Studio ($59.00) Entry level eight-track sequencer built around a MIDI event table that holds all notes and controller values from recording. Edit single events or apply an operation (such as velocity scaling) to a selected range of events. Files are upwardly compatible with other Dr. T programs. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston St., Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954
|Music Studio Title Screen|
Keyboard Controlled Sequencer ($225.00) Professional level 48-track sequencer using nonstandard GEM interface. Extremely powerful control of music via editing of MIDI event table. Record or edit sequences then combine them in various ways to build songs. Foundation for series of add-on programs including Model S ($199.00), a hardware interface box to give SMPTE compatibility. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston St., Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954
Programmable Variations Generator ($75.00) Add-on software for the KCS provides extensive editing and musical manipulation functions. A "patch editor" for sequences. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston St., Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954
Fingers ($50.00 entry level, $129.00 pro level) Real-time series generator similar to Jam Factory for the Mac. Star up to four independent sequences with different loopings, then vary notes and control parameters while playing in real-time to create new sequences. Compatible with KCS. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston St., Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954
EZ-Track Plus ($65.00) Upgrade of the first commercial ST MIDI sequencer. 20-track tape recorder emulator, one MIDI channel assignable per track. Features transposing, MIDI sync, punch in/out, change the time signature, and cut/paste editing. Good starter program with many BBS music files. Upwardly compatible with other Hybrid Arts programs. Hybrid Arts, Inc., 11920 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (213) 826-3777
|Music Studio Composing Screen|
Synch Track ST ($375.95) Professional level 60-track sequencer using tape deck format. Numerous overall and regional editing features, graphical editing, time signature changes, simultaneous looping and linear tracks, punch in/out, song chaining, and 191 programmable quantization levels. Multiple sync capabilities (MIDI, FSK, drum machine) through included hardware interface box. Hybrid Arts, Inc., 11920 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (213) 826-3777
SMPTE Track ST ($575.95) Advanced version of Synch Track ST includes all its capabilities and now supports SMPTE. Comes with SMPTE Mate hardware interface box. Hybrid Arts, Inc., 11920 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (213) 826-3777
Super Conductor ($79.95) Record music passages as blocks, then arrange them in any order across the 16 MIDI channels with graphical song construction. Copy and duplicate blocks, edit them to include variations in tone and dynamics and play the song back simultaneously across multiple MIDI channels. The three internal monitor voices are provided as additional MIDI channels. Sends and receives system-exclusive data files. MichTron, 576 S. Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (313) 3345700
Fast Tracks ST ($129.95) Powerful, easy-to-use 16-track sequencer. Real-time music entry. Step-time only used to include sys-ex data. Punch in/out, song pointer, controller data filtering, variable tempo, and track editing. MIDIMouse Music, Box 272-B, Rhododendron, OR 97049. (503) 622-5451
MIDIsoft Studio ($99.00) 32-track sequencer with many editing options. It allows MIDI thru with filtering of after-touch data, synch to external devices, punch in/out, regional track editing, and transposition. (Antic review 7/87.) MIDIsoft Corporation, P.O. Box 1000, Bellevue, WA 98009. (206) 827-0750
Master Tracks Pro ($349.95) Professional level 64-track sequencer ported from the Mac. Core modules support real or step-time entry, editing of MIDI data and overall sequences, sys-ex librarian, and keyboard mapper. Strong graphical emphasis with powerful editing control. Passport Designs, 625 Miramontes Street, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019. (415) 726-0280
Personal Musician ($129.95) Entry level starter kit for sequencing includes software and MIDI cables. Sonus Corp., 21430 Strathern Street, Suite H, Canoga Park, CA 91304. (818) 702-0992
MasterPiece ($475.00) Professional level 32-track sequencer. Supports real or step-time entry, keyboard mapping, punch in/out, extensive editing and filtering options, chain up to 24 sequences in song mode, and song pointer. Sonus Corp., 21430 Strathern Street, Suite H, Canoga Park, CA 91304. (818) 702-0992
SST SuperSequencer ($195.95) Starter sequencer at the professional level. Similar to MasterPiece but without as many options. Sonus Corp., 21430 Strathern Street, Suite H, Canoga Park, CA 91304. (818) 702-0992
Pro-24 ($295.00) Professional level 24-track sequencer using a tape deck format. Tracks are made up of multiple independent patterns which can be copied or edited and used to build loops. Variable meter and tempo throughout song. Real or step-time entry, filtering, punch in/out, and graphical editing provided. Steinberg Research, distributed by the Russ Jones Marketing Group, 17700 Raymer St., Suite 1001, Northridge, CA 91325. (818) 993-4091
MIDI Studio ($99.95) A musical sequencer that allows recording of music in real time from your synthesizer. Also allows you to create and edit patch data. Audio Light, 20 N. Santa Cruz Suite B, Los Gatos, CA 95030. (408) 395-0838
Mu-Script I ($99.95) is a 16-track sequencer with MIDI event editor and multi-stave notation. You can enter a track entirely from your ST keyboard, then overdub live tracks with it. Includes quantizing and individual event editing. Assign individual tracks to any MIDI channel; split single tracks into two tracks, treble and bass. Quiet Lion, P.O. Box 219, Sun Valley, CA 91353 (818) 765-6224.
Ideally, a scoring program takes a music data file and converts it into printed sheet music. In practice, automating this transcription process is very difficult because of music's many rules and exceptions. Options to consider include the scoring style (solo voice up to full orchestra with drum parts); addition of Iyrics, chord, musical or even user-definable symbols; notation editing; and what printers are supported. Scoring programs generally are only valid with sequencer programs from the same company due to variations in file formats.
Transform-Xnote ($199.95) Music transcription module for the TRANSFORM MIDI software series. Can be co-resident under GEM with the sequencer and patch editor modules. Beam Team, 6100 Adeline Street, Oakland, CA 94608. (415) 658-3208
The Copyist ($225.00) Provides music transcription for all Dr. T sequencer programs. Extends scoring to included drum parts in real percussion notation. On-line help function. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston St., Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954
EZ-Score Plus ($99.00) Entry level scoring program for all Hybrid Arts sequencers. Supports up to three staves, chord symbols and Iyrics all under mouse control. Hybrid Arts Inc., 11920 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (213) 826-3777
SuperScore ($425.00) Transcription of music files for all Sonus sequencers. Includes built-in sequencer. Numerous page layout (up to 40 polyphonic staves) and editing options (music and text). Sonus Corp., 2143 Strathern Street, Suite H, Canoga Park, CA 91304. (818) 702-0992
Library management programs are caretakers of such MIDI data files as synthesizer patches, drum machine patterns, and controller effects. Librarians can build composite files of system exclusive data for all instruments in your setup. At the touch of a button, a file can load all parameters for a particular song. A good librarian is indispensable for MIDI-based systems in live performance.
Equipment meeting the MIDI 1.0 specification usually can be accessed by a generic librarian, rather than requiring a separate program for each instrument. Two exceptions are the Casio synthesizer line and Roland drum machines, which use nonstandard system exclusive data transfer specifications and need specialized software.
ESQ-1, D-50, and TX814Z Librarians ($69.00 each) Patch file librarians for the respective synthesizers. Beaverton Digital Systems, P.O. Box 1626, Beaverton, OR 97075. (503) 641-6260
GenPatch ST ($149.00) Generic librarian for all MIDI instruments. Disk contains over 60 command files, regular updates for new configurations via BBS, and command file builder for those not yet supported. Includes real-time MIDI data stream display utility and desk accessory for sending MIDI data files. Works with Casio and Roland equipment. Hybrid Arts, Inc., 11920 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (213) 826-3777
SYS/EX ($100.00) Designed especially for use by performing musicians and uses keyboard menus rather than mouse-based input. You create a command file to obtain parameter data for each MIDI instrument in your setup. The command file dumps each instrument's data into a composite MIDI file. Calling up the composite file resets all instruments to their previous states. Does not work with Casio synthesizers. Key Clique, Inc., 3960 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Suite 374, Studio City, CA 91604. (818) 905-9136
Matrix 12/Xpander Librarian ($49.95) Librarian for the Oberheim Matrix 12/Xpander synths. View, rearrange, and get hardcopy of patch data and bank names. MIDIMouse Music, Box 272-B, Rhododendron, OR 97049. (503) 622-5451
CZ Sounds Vol. 1-4 ($19.95 each) and FB-01 Sounds ($24.95) Disks of patches (40 per volume for CZ, 96 for FB-01) with boot driver program to load direct to synthesizer. MIDIMouse Music, Box 272-B, Rhododendron, OR 97049. (503) 622-5451.
Data Dumpstor ST ($89.95) Holds up to 20 separate composite MIDI data files in memory and comes with command files on disk; you can create and store additional command files as needed. Includes desk accessory for sending MIDI data files for instrument setup. Does not work with Casio synthesizers. Music Service Software, 801 Wheeler Road, Madison, WI 53704. (608) 241-5615
TR707 Dumpstor ST ($64.95) Provides drum pattern storage for the non-standard protocol used by the Roland TR707 drum machines. Holds 20 full dumps (four tracks each) from the TR707 in memory along with names for each individual track. Includes desk accessory for uploading pattern files to the drum machine. Music Service Software, 801 Wheeler Road, Madison, WI 53704. (608) 241-5615
Pro Creator ($240.00) Combination patch librarian and random patch generator for the Yamaha DX-7/TX series. Creates totally new patches or variations of existing ones. The patch generator is interesting, but limited since you can't edit the patch parameters. Steinberg Research, distributed by the Russ Jones Marketing Group, 17700 Raymer St., Suite 1001, Northridge, CA 91325. (818) 993-4091
K3P0+ Synth-droid, Casio Synth-droid and DW8000 Synth-droid ($99.95 for K3P0+, $79.95 for Casio and DW8000 Synth-droid) These three programs are patch editor/librarians for the Kawai K3, Casio CZ 101, CZ-1000, CZ-3000, CZ-5000 and Korg DW8000, respectively. All feature patch editing and waveform editing, patch librarian functions, and sound envelope manipulation. You can also save your patches in the librarian modes. Compu-Mates, 8621 Wilshire Blvd., #177, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. (213) 271-7410.
Patch editors provide an easy way to enter values for the various parameters that shape an instrument's tones. Additional features may include a librarian function, patch generation, graphical waveform editing, hardcopy of patch parameters, and a variety of editing features (cut/paste, copy, swap).
A sample editor can be viewed as a more complex form of patch editor. These programs let you manipulate an existing digitized sound sample or use a variety of synthesis algorithms to create new sounds from their underlying harmonic structure--sounds that can be sent back to samplers for playing.
Perfect Patch Ver. 2 and Four Patch+ ($59.00 each) For the Yamaha 6-operator and 4-operator synthesizer lines, respectively. All patch parameters are accessible from a single screen for very crisp graphical editing. Keyboard scalings, envelopes and even entire operators can be copied from a source to multiple destinations in a single pass. Includes sequencer, librarian, and online tutorial. Aegix, P.O. Box 9488, Reno, NV 89507. (702) 329-1943
Transforrn-Xsyn ($99.00) A series of patch editor/librarian modules available for CZ, DX-7/TX, JX8P, FB-01, DX27, ESQ-1, D-50, and TX814Z synthesizers. Graphical editing, hardcopy, librarian, intelligent patch creation. Built-in sequencer to rest new patches in actual play. Multiple modules can be co-resident under GEM. Fully integrated with additional TRANSFORM MIDI software. Beam Team, 6100 Adeline Street, Oakland, CA 94608. (415) 658-3208
Softsynth ST ($295.00) Create samples using 32 oscillator additive or FM synthesis. Compatible with most major brands of samplers. Well-known program ported from the Macintosh. Digidesign, 1360 Willow Road, Ste. 101, Menlo Park, CA 94025. (415) 327-8811
CZ Patch, DX Heaven, 4 Op Deluxe, Matrix 6 ST, Kawai-K3 ST, ESQ-Apade ST, D-50 ST, and PCM 70 ST ($129.00 each, except $149.00 for PCM 70 ST) Series of patch editors for their respective synthesizers; 4 Op Deluxe is for the Yamaha DX27/100/FB-01/TX814Z line. All feature integrated graphical waveform editing under mouse control, patch librarian, and hardcopy of parameters. CZ Patch does not support the CZ-1/230S. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston St., Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954
VDS MIRAGE ($249.00) Visual display sample waveform editor for Mirage. Can construct samples by FM or additive synthesis. Samples may be analyzed by Fourier transform to give 2D plot of first 20 harmonics. Dr. T's Music Software, 220 Boylston St., Suite 306, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. (617) 244-6954
Soundfiler ST Graphical sample editor for the Akai S612 ($199.00), X700/7000 ($249.00), and S900 ($299.00) samplers. Supports waveform drawing, looping editor, crossfade looping, digital EQ splicing, key mapping. and librarian functions. GenWave ($249.00) is a similar product for samplers that follow the MIDI sample dump standard (Prophet 2000, E-max). The S900 and generic editor programs require one megabyte. Drumware, 12077 Wilshire Blvd., #515, Los Angeles, CA 90025. (213) 478-3956
CZ-Android ST ($99.95) and DX-Android ST ($199.95) Support the Casio CZ and Yamaha DX-7/TX synthesizer lines, respectively. Graphical/numeric waveform editing, patch hardcopy, and librarian. Patch files are compatible with GenPatch ST. Expert system routines for new patch creation or variation of existing sound. Editing functions without patch creation module are available for DX line as DX-Editor ST ($149.00). Hybrid Arts, Inc., 11920 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (213) 826-3777
EDIT-8000 ($79.97) Patch editor, librarian, creator for the DW/EX-8000 synthesizer. Uses graphic interface of analog control panel (knobs, faders) operated by mouse as well as fast numeric entry. Includes sequencer to test new patches in actual play. Desk accessory to load patch files available free via BBS. Savant Audio, 2140 Bellmore Ave, Bellmore, NY 11710. (516) 826-6336
Mirage Sonic Editor ($245.00) Graphical sample editor with ability to accurately construct looping points. Sonus Corp., 2143 Strathern Street, Suite H, Canoga Park, CA 91304. (818) 702-0992
D-50 Design (279.95) Sound synthesis patch editor/librarian to work with the Roland D-50 synthesizer. Sonus Corp., 2143 Strathern Street, Suite H, Canoga Park, CA 91304. (818) 702-0992
SampleMaker ($250.00) Software synthesizer to generate or edit digital samples for Mirage, Akai S900, and Prophet 2000. Can use additive, FM, AM, or nonlinear waveshaping routines for sample synthesis. Virtual Sounds, P.O. Box 3286, Plymouth, MA 02361. (617) 747-3397
AND FINALLY. .
MIDI Maze ($39.95) Here's one of the most unusual uses for MIDI--and it has nothing to do with music. MIDI Maze is a first-person perspective game, in which you zip down corridors and try to shoot every enemy Happy Face you encounter. Up to 16 STs can be connected together through their MIDI ports to play the game, so your enemies can be either computer opponents or other players. Each player has a different perspective, and you can play every-man-for-himself or in teams. However, MIDI Maze will not work in conjunction with Yamaha, Casio, or other MIDI synthesizers or drum machines. . . Hybrid Arts, Inc., 11920 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90064. (213) 826-3777 or (213) 826-4288 (BBS)