May MIDI Madness
It's definitely been one of those months. You know, four weeks in which so much has happened that it's been difficult to keep up with it all, let alone manage to incorporate everything into the editorial pages of a magazine. To kick-off, two of this issue's major features - the MIDI supplement and the free flexidisc - need explaining.
Almost exactly a year has passed between the release of the first MIDI-equipped keyboard - SCI's Prophet 600 - and this Editorial being written, and it's a testament to the pace with which other manufacturers have adopted the new standard that it seems like an awful lot longer than that. A quick glance at our MIDI Product Guide will tell you that the rate at which new compatible instruments have been introduced comfortably exceeds three a month: manufacturers have not so much accepted the new interface gradually, more welcomed it with open arms.
So, given the enormous amount of interest in the MIDI system on the part of manufacturers, dealers and musicians alike, it seemed only natural to devote a small part of the magazine to the interface and the instruments that incorporate it. However, what started out as an ordinary four-page feature quickly grew into a fully-fledged pull-out special, and the story doesn't end there. Next month's E&MM will include the second part of the supplement, which, combined with this month's instalment, should provide the most comprehensive guide to MIDI yet published. Provisional contents (new developments are occurring so rapidly that anything could happen between now and the June issue, and probably will) include a technical introduction, a summary table of MIDI instruments' capabilities, an in-depth look at how the system works and MIDI interfaces for three popular microcomputers - the BBC B, Spectrum, and Commodore 64.
The second feature is in some ways just as exciting, though for entirely different reasons. The story behind the Axxess album - and this month's free record - is an extraordinarily complex one involving some bizarre personal associations (like ex-members of Tangerine Dream becoming friendly with bosses of prestigious Italian sportscar manufacturers) and possibly the most remarkable home-built synthesiser project ever undertaken by anybody anywhere. The album is reviewed elsewhere this issue, but suffice it to say for the moment that we feel Novels For The Moons to be quite a significant release, both in terms of technological development and in relation to the electronic music scene as a whole.
Give the flexi a listen and tell us what you think.
A little closer to home, E&MM's publishing operation has been expanding at a fair rate of knots in recent months, and May sees the appearance of a new sister publication for E&MM and Home Studio Recording. Called simply Guitarist, the new magazine will feature interviews with prominent musicians from all sections of the modern music community, reviews of guitars, basses, amps, and accessories, features on playing techniques and customising, and a whole host of additional tests, reports and profiles that add up to the single most comprehensive specialist guitar player's magazine available.
And all for a mere 80p each month.
Finally, we'd like to extend a warm welcome to Paul White, who's now joined the staff on a full-time basis after contributing some consistently original and thought-provoking technical articles in recent issues. If you have a technical query related to music that you'd like answering, Paul wil be only too pleased to assist, but please bear in mind that a letter (with SAE if possible) is more likely to get a full and prompt reply than a telephone call...
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