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Notator Musicator

Musicator GS for Windows is a new music program for the PC which combines scorewriting/transcription with sequencing and an onscreen 16-channel mixer whose software knobs and sliders allow you to control volume, pan, reverb, chorus, envelope, filter and vibrato settings on Roland's GS Format instruments.

The program lets you record in real- or step-time, either via MIDI or using the mouse, and displays your music onscreen in notation form. Its note editor can display all 16 staves in one window, and allows you to tweak your score visually, adjusting note spacing, beaming and enharmonics until you're satisfied. The program can handle tuplets, grace notes and the like, is able to print out music in Postscript or TrueType fonts, and lets you print full scores or individual parts.

You can also view and edit your music in 'piano roll' form, allowing you to edit MIDI durations with a precision that wouldn't be practical in score form. Other features include an overview window allowing block cut-and-paste operations, a continuous controller window, a dedicated drum editor window, on-line help, and Standard MIDI Files read/write capability.

Hardware requirements are a 386 or 486 PC with 4Mb RAM, a Windows-compatible graphics adaptor, a hard disk, a mouse, and a CMS Series MIDI interface card or MPU-compatible card.

Musicator GS for Windows retails at £295 including VAT.

For more information, contact Arbiter Pro MIDI at (Contact Details).

Two's accompany, from Yamaha

Two forthcoming products from Yamaha continue the company's quest - begun with the QY10 'walkstation' - to bring keyboard-style technology to non-keyboard players.

The QR10 Musical Accompaniment Player provides preset and user-programmable auto-accompaniment patterns and songs and 129 Voices in a compact stand-alone unit - allowing guitarists and other instrumentalists to take advantage of auto-accompaniments in a portable and affordable format.

The GW50 Guitar Performance Effector is a multi-effects pedalboard unit with a difference: it includes 248 preset accompaniment patterns, complete with fill-ins and variations. These can be chained together to form a Song, or selected in real-time from the unit's foot-pedals.

Both the QR10 and the GW50 are set for July availability. The QR10 will be priced at £279, the GW50 at around £599.

For more information contact Yamaha-Kemble Music (UK) Ltd at (Contact Details).

New Meridian lines

Meridian Software have announced their appointment as sole distributors of Blue Ribbon Music products in the UK.

Included in the current range is the Bars & Pipes Professional sequencer for the Amiga, the latest version of which (v2) includes multimedia enhancements designed to integrate control of non-musical events into the software's MIDI sequencing environment via the Media Madness Player. The Player allows you to design multimedia presentations from within Bars & Pipes, synchronising video, animations and sound effects. As new Multi Media Tools arrive, the Media Madness Player will inherit their capabilities. The MMP can also synchronise to SMPTE, Arexx and all of the special accessories that synchronise Bars & Pipes Pro 2.0 to other products such as Real 3D Imagine and Scala.

For full details of all Blue Ribbon software, including The One-stop Music Shop, The Patchmeister, Superjam, Synchpro and Triple Play Plus, contact Ms Rue Luxton at Meridian Software Distribution Ltd on (Contact Details).

Assessing the damage

You've built up your home studio bit by bit, perhaps combining equipment old and new to get your setup just how you want it. It's your pride and joy - and then someone else thinks they have the right to spirit it all away while you're out. Getting burgled is a devastating experience: having to deal with an insurance company which doesn't appreciate the value of what's been stolen doesn't help matters.

Enter Claimlink, a firm of claim assessors specialising in insurance claims involving musical equipment. With one of their partners being a guitarist of over 20 years standing who also has his own home studio, they reckon they know a thing or two about the true value of musical instruments - that, for instance, a 1961 Fender Strat is worth ten times as much as a new one. Not the sort of knowledge your average claim assessor is likely to have.

If you want to find out what Claimlink could do for you, you can contact them on (Contact Details).

Bags of information

Yamaha Kemble have been running a 24-hour, automated-response customer information line for some while now. However, occasional technical difficulties with the line have led them to set up a new operator-assisted information line instead. Callers will also be offered the option of having a product demonstration arranged through their local pro music dealer. Nothing beats the personal touch, does it?

Nothing beats having some decent physical protection for your valued instruments, either. Again, Yamaha have been on the, er, case with a series of padded bags designed to protect their more portable musical products from the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. Now the company are offering a free black padded instrument bag to anyone who buys either a QY20 walkstation or an FX550 multi-effects processor. All you have to do is send off a request for the appropriate bag, together with your full name and address and a copy of your invoice or receipt, and a free bag will be dispatched to you within approximately 10 days. The address to write to is: (Contact Details).

90 seconds of fame

Now here's an intriguing concept. Sheffield-based composer/improviser Martin Archer is inviting "creative musicians/soundsmiths, known or unknown" to submit a composition or improvisation - any style accepted - for inclusion on a new CD. Not so unusual, you may say - but here's the twist: each piece must have a maximum duration of 90 seconds; Martin will then edit together approximately fifty segments to form a continuous sequence.

The intention is that the production costs will be split between the fifty chosen contributors - and equally that everyone will receive a share of profits from the finished product.

If you'd like to make sure of your very own 90 seconds of fame, you can get further details by sending an SAE to (Contact Details).

Community service

The Queens Park Centre in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, is a voluntary arts organisation funded by the Bucks County Council Community Department, the Southern Arts Board, AVDC, Hardings Trust and local businesses. Describing itself as a "down-to-earth Arts Centre offering a wide range of opportunities and guidance in art, craft and performance at sensible prices", the QPC runs a combination of workshops and classes which are open to anyone. Workshops are paid for only as and when you attend, plus there is a small annual membership fee.

The Centre has its own multitrack recording studio complete with Atari-based MIDI sequencing setup (using Pro24 and Pro 12), and is laying on Sound Recording and MIDI Music courses in June and July with the aim of giving attendees the requisite knowledge to be able to use these facilities ("at very competitive community rates") to record their own music. The studio and the courses are open to anyone - "musicians and non-musicians alike, from classical to 130mph hardcore"!

The Level 2 Sound Recording course will take place on Saturday 12th/Sunday 13th June, and the MIDI Music course on Saturday 26th/Sunday 27th June and Saturday 3rd/Sunday 4th July.

For more information, contact the Queens Park Centre at (Contact Details).

Summer holiday

University College Salford provides the venue for a Summer School in Music Production Techniques to take place from 19th-23rd July. Based at the College's Centre for Media, Performance and Communications, the course will aim to provide participants with a grounding in the creative production skills required in the modern recording studio.

As well as an introduction to recording and studio skills, the course will cover multitrack recording, mixing and remixing, mastering onto DAT, mix automation, synchronisation (audio-to-MIDI and video-to-audio/MIDI), sampling, sequencing/composing with Cubase, synthesis and sound programming, and signal processing (effects, gates and compressors). There will also be seminars on the latest studio equipment, as well as guidance on equipment evaluation. The Centre has two 24-track recording studios, a MIDI studio, 'semi-studio' workstations and a MIDI edit suite with multiple workstations, so there'll be no shortage of facilities for you to get hands-on experience.

The only prerequisites for attendance on the course are a keen interest in the subject and some basic knowledge of mixing and/or MIDI technology. The course fee doesn't include accommodation, but special rates are available at the College's Oakland Hall campus. Reservations can be made on (Contact Details).

As for the course fee itself, this is normally £195, but MT readers can sign up for the specially-negotiated reduced rate of £160, using the registration form below.

For more information, contact Course Administrator Kate Lodge on (Contact Details).

Passport to the doghouse

In magazine production, the mistakes which are normally missed are the BIG ONES - the ones right in front of your nose which seemingly everyone else spots straight away when the mag comes out! Which is by way of a prelude to saying "Oops! We dropped a clanger last month" by crediting Audioshop to Passport when it is in fact a program from Opcode Systems. Please note also that the price is £89.95. not £69.95 as stated at the end of the review. Apologies for any confusion caused. Both Passport and Opcode are distributed in the UK by MCM, who can be contacted at (Contact Details).

The cutting edge

Sharp Electronics have leant their weight to the cause of Sony's new MiniDisc format with an ultracompact MiniDisc unit. Described by the company as "the world's smallest and lightest personal MiniDisc player", the pocket-sized MD-D10E measures just 84mm (W) by 30.1mm (H) by 109.3mm (D) and weighs a mere 330 grams (including rechargeable battery).

Controls are provided on both the main unit and a handy remote, allowing the MD to be operated easily even when it's tucked away in a jacket or shirt pocket. Functions include high-speed search, fast-skip for instant track access, and random track playback, with a 1 x 10-character scrolling LCD providing information on artist name and track title (for pre-encoded discs only).

The MD can be powered off a rechargeable battery (giving approximately 100 minutes continuous playback) or an AC adaptor - and its battery can be recharged while you listen to the MD on mains power. An X-Bass facility allows bass frequencies to be enhanced, while circuitry has been included which reduces the audible leakage of high frequencies from headphones; Sharp call this a "noisy sound control circuit" - now, I don't think they meant to say that!

The MD-D10E will be available from July for £399.99 including VAT.

For more information, contact Sharp Electronics (UK) Ltd at (Contact Details), or at (Contact Details).

Akai back a winner

Yes, it's the moment you've all been waiting for with crossed fingers, crossed legs and maybe, even, crossed eyes. The Editor has plunged his long arm into the incredibly deep MT hat containing the incredibly large number of entries we had for our Akai S3000 sampler competition - and pulled out the winning entry.

So, step forward and take a bow... Helen Benson of Addlestone in Surrey.

Congratulations, Helen. The rest of you can uncross those appendages, let out a sigh of disappointment - and console yourselves with the knowledge that at least you won't have the dubious pleasure of meeting MTs Editor Nigel Lord at the no-expense-spared prize-giving ceremony. Akai UK's Dave Caulfield will present the S3000 to Helen - see next month's issue for a full report.

Sampling for DJs

Although it's hi-tech instrument manufacturers who bring out the heavyweight - and usually expensive - digital samplers, DJ mixer manufacturers have been adding basic sampling facilities to their more upmarket mixers for some time.

Now, well-known DJ mixer manufacturers Citronic have taken the obvious next step by launching the Remix Series 16 Sampling System, a unit aimed at the DJ remix market which offers 16 seconds of sampling time as standard, configured as 4x4 or 8x3 seconds. Samples are retained in memory through power-down, and a recessed record-defeat button, accessible from the unit's front panel, can be used to prevent accidental erasure of stored samples.

The Series 16 has a sample loop facility which can be reprogrammed while the sample plays - without generating any gaps or delays, Citronic claim. The unit also allows you to retrigger samples from its Play button. Other features include 8 x oversampling, anti-alias filtering, and record and playback level control.

The Series 16 Sampling System is priced at £449 including VAT.

For more information contact Citronic Ltd at (Contact Details).

Knowing the score

If you're getting into deep water with music publishing agreements, production, distribution etc. etc., perhaps a seminar taking place at the Grosvenor House, London in July could be the life jacket you need.

Negotiating Record And Music Publishing And Distribution Agreements will take place on the 6th July and will set you back £351.33. For this price you'll leave at the end of the day armed with information on producer's agreements, pressing and distribution, recording agreements and much more.

The seminar will be presented by a variety of music industry 'gurus', including solicitor John Kennedy, who has worked in the music business for over 10 years and has been a director of both Phonogram and CBS; chartered accountant Stephen Abery, who has worked with both UK and US accountancy firms specialising in the music business since he became qualified in 1975; and Michael Henry, principal author and consulting editor of Butterworth's Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents - Entertainment Law.

For more details contact Nina Broomfield or Lynsey Roger at (Contact Details).

Hex: video in chaos

Back in '87/'88, Coldcut were at the forefront of the DJ/sampling revolution. Now, working with video graphics artists Hardwire as "leading-edge multimedia pop group" Hex, they're at it again - this time combining music, computer graphics and video to create their very own 'street level' multimedia revolution.

Rejecting the ultra-expensive graphics workstations and their associated "pretty but often dull 3D rendered look", the group have turned instead to more down-to-earth computer and video technology, and embraced styles which are "much more garage, punk, mashed-up, dirty, dangerous and in ya face."

Formed in 1991, Hex have produced promo videos for the likes of The Fall, Spiritualized, Spacemen 3 and Chapterhouse, as well as 'art' videos like Binary Engine (which was funded by the Arts Council and shown at the London Film Festival). They've also created the Archimedes/Amiga computer game Top Banana and its accompanying 12" single and promo video, and explored the potential of the CD-ROM medium with Global Chaos CDTV for Commodore's CDTV system and eSCAPE for Philips' rival format, CD-I. The former combines rave-style visuals with techno and ambient music and the Top Banana game, while the latter combines music from the likes of Irresistable Force, Eon, B12 and Coldcut with "state-of-the-art cybergraphix".

However, undoubtedly their most sophisticated and most ambitious effort to date is the 60-minute video Global Chaos (see accompanying stills), set for release at the end of May. Produced on a combination of Amiga and Mac computers using virtual reality 3D modelling, ray tracing and 3D landscape visualisation software, fractals, randomness-driven graphic algorithms, digital feedback, and video sampling/scratching, Global Chaos is a heady and headlong rush of psychedelic computer graphics and video effects with a rave/ambient soundtrack from Coldcut. Hex call the result Freaky Electronic Video Art; having seen the video, I can only concur!

The group have also been mixing live visuals at selected raves and clubs, something which they plan to get more involved in; an ambient club with ambient music maestro Mixmaster Morris is one possibility they're currently exploring.

LWT's new Young South Bank Show series has made a 15-minute documentary about Hex, focussing on the techniques they employ, which will be screened in July in a program called 'Sculpting in Cyberspace'. Definitely one to watch out for.

Global Chaos the video is available from May 28th for £10.99. Global Chaos the soundtrack album (LP/CD) is available at record shops everywhere from June 14th.

For more information, contact Imagine Productions on (Contact Details).

MIDI and the classics

Thanks to the endeavours of new company Proteus Communications, Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Symphony No. 29, Horn Concerto and Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra are now available in GM-compatible MIDI songfile form on PC/Atari floppy disks.

Proteus have been faithful to the original score in each case, right down to the details of dynamics and ornamentation. As a lot of data is involved, the company have thoughtfully saved the individual movements of each piece as separate files, allowing owners of smaller-memory machines to load the music without problems. The packaging for each disk includes a brief history of the composer and the music, together with documentation on how to set up the files for use with non-GM instruments.

The price for each disk is £12.95.

For more information contact Proteus Communications at (Contact Details).

Tascam's seventh heaven?

Latest in a long line of budget 4-track cassette machines from Tascam is the Porta 05HS's replacement, the Porta-07 Ministudio. Featuring four main input channels with high and low EQ and an effects send on each channel, the new machine appears to be well specified for its price.

The 07's master section has tape cue controls for monitoring, a stereo effects return, and four LED meters, while the tape section runs at 9.5 cm/sec (ie. double speed) to ensure optimum sound quality, and features switchable dbx noise reduction and a +/- 12% pitch control.

With today's MIDI-based recording setups in mind, the new Ministudio also features stereo sub-inputs (for a submix of all your sequenced MIDI instrumental parts) together with a dedicated sync output and a noise-reduction bypass routing to ensure trouble-free tape/sequencer synchronisation.

The Porta-07 costs £349 including VAT.

For more information contact Teac UK Ltd at (Contact Details).

To Fostex and Alesis, a child is born

If you've been following MT's news pages in recent months, you'll know that Fostex and Alesis have entered into a marriage of convenience in an attempt to establish the latter's S-VHS digital tape format as a recording standard. Now Fostex have unveiled the first engineering model of the RD-8 multitrack digital tape machine, an "ADAT-format digital recorder" (it even has the ADAT logo on its front panel), with production models expected to arrive in the second half of the year.

Fostex are aiming to provide both tape and operational compatibility with Alesis' machine, encouraging users to build mixed RD-8/ADAT setups. But let's not forget that the two companies are still in competition with one another! How, then, will Fostex handle the pricing of their new machine? We'll have to wait for the answer to that one.

Look out also for new DAT machines from Fostex before the year is up.

For more information, contact Fostex UK at (Contact Details).

Back to school

If a busman's holiday is the only sort you can afford this Summer, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London may be the perfect place to park the old Routemaster. As part of their annual Summer School, the Guildhall are offering two MIDI/Sequencing workshops (24th-25th and 26th-27th July) and a Recording Engineering course (19th-23rd July).

The former, which will be divided into classes for beginners and more experienced MIDI musicians, will cover MIDI, sequencing, notation, sound generation, and hard disk recording (with Sound Tools), using both Atari and Mac computers. Alternatively (or perhaps additionally) you can roll up your sleeves and work your way through five days of intensive multitrack studio recording, live recording and MIDI study on the Recording Engineering course; students on this course will have the opportunity to put theory into practise by recording various musicians on the Jazz, Rock and Studio Music course and producing their final concert.

For further information contact Heather Swain, Co-ordinator, (Contact Details).

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A Cynic Writes...

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Meet Gary Clark

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


Music Technology - Jun 1993

News by Simon Trask

Previous article in this issue:

> A Cynic Writes...

Next article in this issue:

> Meet Gary Clark

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