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Oscar's Mozart 40

Oscar isn't the first company to release classical music in MIDI file format, but it is the first to throw any kind of promotion and support at it. You may have seen the ads in MT and possibly received a copy of The Oscar Newsletter - particularly if you're involved in education.

The Mozart 40 disk is only the first of a number of classical pieces they plan to convert to MIDI files. It's available in all formats although it was written using C-Lab's Notator and that is its native format. The disk includes five files - one for each of the four movements and a Sys Ex dump for the Yamaha SY77.

Notator main screen showing the instruments and arrangement of the first movement

If you've done any experimentation in sequencing classical music (or any other complex, multi-part music) you'll know that it's not as easy as it sounds. You can't simply put the notes in, select suitable sounds and expect to get a reasonable performance out of your sequencer. Individual music lines have to be balanced against each other, tempos adjusted, ralls and rits inserted. Dan Palethorpe, principal flute at the English National Opera, was enlisted to help ensure the musicality of the work - a sort of conductor by proxy. The result is quite a tour de force, particularly when played using the SY77.

The disk is intended primarily for use in education. You can analyse and dissect the music, play sections of it, and examine the harmonies, counterpoint and orchestration. In fact, generally discover just what it was that made ol' Amadeus the genius he was. Then you can commit the ultimate sacrilege by rearranging it yourself.

Is there a downside? Well, if you don't have an SY77 you're going to have to do your own orchestration - without Dan Palethorpe's help. The SY77 seems an odd choice, too - I'll bet there aren't many of them lurking in the corridors of our educational establishments. Perhaps a General MIDI version might be a good idea, although (and I say this without having tried it) I wonder if a GM instrument could do quite the job the SY77 does.

Another thing - which you may have already noticed - is the price. Not cheap. But remember it took almost six months to get the files set up and, like everything else, you have to pay for quality. Oscar's Mozart 40 is one of the best renditions of a piece of classical music I have yet heard.

Price: Mozart Symphony No 40 £49.99 (inc VAT)

More from: Oscar Music, (Contact Details)

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Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - Sep 1992

Review by Ian Waugh

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> ModemMIDI

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