With a package designed to get the most from the micro's own sound chip.
...With yet another software package designed to exploit the machines own sound-chip. Chris Jenkins loads up.
The latest in a number of attempts to turn the Beeb into a musical instrument, Music Maker from F-Soft - not to be confused with Commodore's similarly-named clip-on keyboard for the 64 - is a good attempt hampered only by the Beeb's relatively weak sound chip. Music Maker comes on cassette or disk at £9, and consists of the software, 46-page manual and a function key label strip.
The first main section of the program, The Sound, enables you to load up sixteen presets, or to create and modify sounds of your own. The display shows the familiar ADSR pattern, which will of course be different for every preset sound selected from the main menu.
Control of all aspects of the Music Maker package is through sensibly chosen function and control keys, and you can return to the main menu at any time should you get lost.
A further display shows the pitch envelope, which can be edited to produce vibrato and glissando effects.
All the preset sounds can be played from the QWERTY keyboard, and some impressive three-note chords can be built up using sounds like "Delayed Random", "Star Wars" and "Percussive". The keyboard is 25 notes long, and the full range can be extended to four octaves with the use of "octave shift" keys.
Having defined and saved the sound you want, the next move is to go into The Player and start to record tunes. The excellent colour graphics of The Player represent a music stave with treble and bass clefs and a status page. Any notes played on the keyboard appear on the scrolling stave. There's a metronome click available should you want to time your performance precisely, and of course the clock rate can be adjusted.
A novel feature is the availability of keyboard split, so that two sounds can be assigned to different parts of the QWERTY keyboard and played simultaneously.
The Sequencer and Rhythm Generator are very similar to each other; both are step time, monophonic, and up to 1024 pulses long. You can store three sequences, and while playing them back you can accompany them on the keyboard if you haven't used up all the voices.
The final important aspect of Music Maker is The Editor, which allows you to display note numbers, pitch, envelope and note length for each sequence. The cursor keys are used to select and alter the faulty notes.
There are several useful notes at the back of the manual dealing with methods of fitting simple audio output and input circuits and a volume control to the Beeb. A wise move, as most users would agree, since the built-in speaker is nothing special.
Music Maker is an interesting and user-friendly package which will please most Beeb owners. It's a good investment for those who are perhaps not dedicated enough to shell out £200 for the Acorn Music 500 system, but who want to get all they can out of the unadorned BBC B.
Contact F-Soft at (Contact Details).
Review by Chris Jenkins