Microware Launch 24-Track MIDI Composer
The key to Microware's new MIDI composer is to use the world standard IBM PC as the control device, which is made possible by Roland's MPU-401.
Why the IBM? Because, according to Microware, to run a professional standard music system you need a computer built to meet professional and business standards in office applications. They point out that no-one would use a home micro to run a business system because reliability, bug-free operation, uncomplicated running procedures and durability are at a premium. They developed their new package on the basis that it should be easier to set up and run as well as more powerful than any dedicated system available.
Why the MPU-401? Because it was an open architecture device, that is, the full technical specifications were available so no limitations were imposed in writing the best possible software. Unlike some other interfaces it's also 'intelligent' with its own memory circuits.
Microware have the complete system up and running at their Crystal Palace shop. At the moment it's controlling various units in Roland's MIDI module system plus a TR707 drum machine — but up to 64 MIDI instruments can be simultaneously controlled.
The sequencer can be programmed in real time, step time, or a combination of each. The great advantage of using the Roland/IBM/Microware System is its comprehensive screen display: full editing of individual notes and bars is possible and by moving a cursor amongst notes displayed on the screen this procedure is very simple. As well as altering the pitch and length of notes, it is possible to change the velocity information. Bars and sections can be set to repeat or duplicate automatically, 'cut and paste' editing is easy, any of the 64 tracks can be soloed and muted, and individual tracks can be looped independently of one another. With so many tracks available it's possible to allocate a separate track to each sound on a rhythm machine, effectively composing a drum part on computer. Everything is stored in the disc drives which are integral with the computer, and new songs can be loaded off disc in less than five seconds — fairly useful on stage.