The Next Generation
A new generation from Roland
Computer Music has until now been at the exploratory stage. But new breakthroughs at Roland are creating a powerful system geared to the musician - not the hobbyist!
Although software programs for generating music on computers have been with us now for some time now, they have, in general, proven to be at best problematic and at worst sophisticated toys - running on a variety of 'home computers'. What has been lacking is a professional piece of software that meets the exacting demands of the professional musician. This gap has been more than adequately filled by Roland's new 'Music Processing System', otherwise known as 'MPS'.
MPS runs on IBM, PC, XT or AT computers (or any fully compatible machines) which when linked via the standard Roland MPU 401 MIDI Interface Unit to any MIDI controlled instruments such as synthesizers and drum machines, provides a remarkably powerful, complete environment for creating music. The three integrated modes (programs) which make up MPS (Song, Score and Print) provide the ability to record, playback, edit, score and print out a piece of music in great detail. Data can either be entered in REALTIME from a synth or in STEP TIME from the computer's keyboard, and played back either by using the MPU401's internal clock, an external MIDI clock or a previously recorded Tape sync pulse. Compositions can be built up piece by piece in ways that far exceed the capabilities of standard multi-track recording. With its ability to process all types of MIDI data including pitch bend, patch changes, song positions, gate, velocity, touch sensitivity etc., it is possible to create incredibly complex arrangements on the computer, without the need to even turn the tape recorder on!
While imposing at first sight, due to the wealth of features provided, MPS is in fact remarkably easy, and a delight, to use.
The SONG mode is used to record any phrases you may wish to play on a MIDI synth and also to construct whole compositions from those phrases. EIGHT polyphonic tracks are provided, which can all be assigned to different MIDI channels. It is also possible to 'bounce' separate tracks together while retaining all the separate MIDI information each track held individually. Auto timing correction (⅛th to 1/32 triplets), automatic punch in/punch out (down to a single beat if necessary), auto-locate over MIDI channels, muting and setting of MIDI channels and velocity for each track, transposition on a track or entire song basis are all features that make for a very usable product. When recording phrases, existing tracks can also be temporarily set to play back on other MIDI channels and then reset to their original channels later.
One of the nicest features of the SONG mode is the ability to view on the screen any chosen 80 bars at a time. After recording or composing a phrase using the SCORE Mode, the phrase can be inserted any number of times into the desired bars of the song you are constructing. As the phrase is inserted, the location chosen will light up to clearly indicate which bars in which tracks contain music and which bars are empty. This provides a very clear picture of the structure of a composition.
In SCORE mode, the Midi data produced in Song mode is turned into a musical score suitable for further editing and printing. It is also possible to enter scores directly from the computer keyboard. This mode allows the definition of basic score functions such as key and time signatures, clef, beams and ties, stem directions etc., and also entering and deleting notes, rests, accidentals, score markings and text. The GATE TIME, VELOCITY, NOTE VALUE and MIDI CHANNEL for notes being inserted into the score can all be selected on a note by note basis. The GATE feature is very useful for imitating those 'slap bass' sounds formerly the preserve of trusty old Jazz Bass! Score mode will play back a phrase and display the score in real time. An interesting feature is the ability to adjust the value that a performed note duration is displayed as.
PRINT mode is used to 'cut and paste' a score to be printed out. This means that each bar of a score can be sent to a specified bar in a specified stave and printed. As well as a composite score, individual parts can also be printed.
So, if you're serious about Computer Music and need flexibility and professional features in a piece of software, MPS looks like the answers to a lot of prayers!
Further information on the system is to be had from Chris Palmer, The Roland Software Department, Musicalc Systems Ltd., (Contact Details).
Roland Newslink - Spring 86
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