Greetings, Computer Musicians!
One of the really heartening things that's happened recently is the sudden awakening of the media and public to all that computer music has to offer. In fact, from the one 'Making the Most of the Micro' programme on sound and music, the BBC had 4,000 letters — more than from any other programme in the series! At the same time, there's a minor chain reaction going on under our feet in the shape of burgeoning commercial interest in interfacing synthesisers with personal micros, and this can only mean that our creative tools get more efficient and more powerful.
However, there's one big problem. What musicians coming to computers expect from their micro-based instruments seems to be rather different to what the computer buff enjoys producing on his home micro. We need to see a meeting of minds in the middle, so that both the personal micro owner and the musician are able to realise fully their different creative aspirations with the assistance of the micro, and the best way of doing that is to have an all-encompassing forum that presents every aspect of the micro music scene. In very broad terms, that's the idea behind the Computer Musician supplement.
Where does one start? Well, obviously there's the theory to consider — whether it be how digital synthesis actually happens or what makes a music composition language a good music composition language. And Computer Musician won't stint itself on this, though practical implications will always be the keynote of any theoretical dissertation.
Then, there's the question of which micro. We'll try to cover all of the popular micros, though this will obviously be dependent on (a) their innate musical talents, and (b) the potential for expansion. In a future article, we'll try to analyse the way synthesiser hardware and software companies are heading in their choice of micros with musical potential. At the present time, our tips for the top are the BBC Micro and the Commodore 64, but it's also apparent that the Apple II, like Red Rum, will be a firm favourite for many years to come.
Because technology moves much faster than the development of programming skills, the Computer Musician needs to appreciate the whys and wherefores of the chip business as applied to his art. The Electro-Music Engineer does a fine job at keeping us up-to-date on the analogue side of the field, but Chip Chat will go behind the scenes of chips that have a direct relevance to micro music. Similarly, Studio Scene will take a close look at how people actually get on with micro-based systems outside the world of the glossy brochure or E&MM review.
At the beginning of the editorial, the term 'forum' was mentioned, and we mean that. There's no point on earth of writing in a vacuum, so there are four areas where we'd really welcome input from you: firstly, letters — please send them in, whether candid comments or ecstatic effusives; second, articles — if you have something you'd like to offer, feel free to write in with a brief outline and then we'll get back to you; third, feedback - particularly for the User Feedback section, from musicians who've been using some particular item of software or hardware and would like to tell of their delights and misfortunes; and fourth, programs - mainly for an intended Program Corner in the supplement, but larger ones would be equally valuable. Ideally, we're looking for fairly short programs on any of the popular micros, but the caveat is that they must be musical, though juicy sound FX would do at a pinch! Please send these in as a listing (preferably from a printer, and dark enough for photographic reproduction as it is — to avoid yet another plague of those damnable typographical errors!), a brief explanation of how and why the program works, plus a cassette (or disk) of the program. Needless to say, all contributions will be amply rewarded!