The autumn mists swirl up from the swamp, covering the Bates ‘Jon’s me name, shower cleaning’s me game’ Motel in a rubbery grey cloak (rubber? — Ed). From an upper window a figure can be seen pacing to and fro...
‘Yes, mother, I’ve listened to the tunes and read the letters... erm... well I’m kind of busy right now... Yes... writing. Guests? Well I’ll see if I switched the sign on...’
THERE ARE certainly a few cabins occupied with people armed with tapes and problems for me to sort out. Now that they’re all signed in I’ll sort the problems out and maybe take them a late-night snack in a while.
The first one is a long missive from Luke Oram of Sirius Software (you can’t be sirius!!). Luke has sent in a 128K tune that is a bit too lengthy for listing but aimed his letter at me with the closing phrase that indicated that I was too busy to concern myself with a young musician with ‘a penchant for viscious (sic) FM sound over Fairlighted voices’. Now do you mean vicious as in stabbing attack or do you mean viscous like a semi-fluid that is clinging rather like blood? Whichever, Luke has this idea for setting up and producing synthesized compositions for either sampling on 16-bit or circulating the data and audio tracks. He wants to know the going rate for compositions and how to get the attention of software houses to use him for games tunes. The short answer is that there is no going rate really. There are rates laid down by the Musician’s Union for actually performing pieces, but really it’s what you think you’re worth, against what a software house is willing to pay.
‘There is no going rate really’
To get into business, why not send out a few of your best tracks to software houses. It might not achieve anything but then again, you never know. Even better, why not replace the music cues on a game with your own and send it back. The concept of using the 16-bit machines to sample tunes is fine. The only problem is that sampling is greedy on the memory, and some pretty nifty work is required to fit the tunes into the game. Anyway best of luck and keep us posted.
Murray Harrison has an Echo keyboard plus interface and a 128K Spectrum. He has concluded that the accompanying software is not much good and wants to know if there’s any better software on the market. You have my extreme sympathy. Way back in the annals of CRASH (about three years ago) I reviewed the said unit and a right tale of woe it was too. The story is that the Echo unit was originally developed for the BBC by a Leicester-based team who had the interest of the user and educational possibilities at heart. Sad to say that they went the way of many companies and sold out to one of the controlling financiers who took over the product to market himself. I traced the director of this new venture and railed at him about the new software that he was selling for the Spectrum, as it was really very tacky and inferior compared with the BBC. He claimed that the software was there for people to develop themselves. I suspect that the root of the matter was that he personally couldn’t write a single line of basic and had farmed the upgrade out to some bozo team who had made an appalling job of trying to write a very basic music synthesis program. To tell you the truth I thought he too had gone the way of the cars in the swamp behind my office. However if any kind soul reading this has any knowledge of superior software, please write in and I’ll publish the results. You could always try the place where you bought this keyboard in the first place.
‘It was really very tacky and inferior’
Paul Jones (aka PJ) wrote an extremely long letter addressed to both Simon and the Motel. Well Simon doesn’t live at the Motel although he does occasionally chance his luck and book a room for the night. Mother thinks he’s a good boy, so I guess he’s safe... er... where was I? Oh yes. Paul told us his life history and a blow by blow description of buying his equipment, the moral of which is to shop around. To answer your first question, the music software for the Disciple comes from Quasar. PJ has a 128K Spectrum, RAM Music Machine and a Yamaha DD10 Drum Bank about which he raves as being the best add-on at only £99. The DD10 has 100 rhythms, 24 drum sounds, built-in stereo speakers and MIDI-in. This means that to program it from a sequencer you will need to know the drum note numbers — you can’t play the drums on the DD10 and let the sequencer remember the pattern as there is no MIDI-out. Incidentally, the RX21 suffers with the same problem and that has got MIDI-out.
Anyway, he has sent in a whole load of useful stuff concerning the DD10. I would suggest that this may also work with other Yamaha drum machines, as they usually keep to the same codes. Just looking at Paul’s chart, I would say this to be the case. When using the DD10 with the Music Machine you can delete all the drum samples resident in it. The patterns can be played back from the DD10 via MIDI. To do this you must remember to POKE the addresses in memory which tell the Music Machine which note value it must send. First you must load the Music Machine code...
10 FOR N=33159 TO 33166
20 READ D: POKE N, D: NEXT N
30 DATA DC1, DC2, DC3, DC4, DC5, DC6, DC7, DC8
You replace DC1–DC8 in the data statement with the codes of the eight drums you wish to use. To set up the program to play the DD10 drums, change line 30 to...
30 DATA 55, 50, 53, 59, 57, 52, 44, 00
Make sure the drum bank is on the same channel as the drum info coming out of the Music Machine, and that the correct MIDI mode has been selected on the DD10. The note numbers (that you poke into the Music Machine) are as follows.
|Tom Tom 1||53|
|Tom Tom 2||50|
|Tom Tom 3||48|
|Tom Tom 4||47|
|Synth tom low||40|
|Synth tom hi||42|
If you don’t fancy poking the Music Machine, the Motel has another solution. The numbers listed correspond to notes on the keyboard. Just for fun you can demonstrate this by plugging any MIDI keyboard into a drum machine and when the latter is in the correct mode (consult user manual, but usually you need ‘Channel Info Open’ or something like that) you can work out what drum is assigned to which note. If you are not able to do this for some reason but still want to have a go then middle C is assigned the number 64. The solution is to work out a pattern of notes that make up a drum pattern. Enter the notes as per normal but connect that channel-out to the drum machine. Presto. Your own drum pattern. If you have a MIDI splitter box you would be able to play both keyboard note and hear the drum at the same time that it was being sequenced.
‘Mother and I have written many, many times on these subjects’
Paul also wants to know where to get a sample editor, eight track sequencer and CZ voice editor. Now really. Mother and I have written in these pages many many times on these topics. I’m afraid this means that you will be stopping in cabin number 1 — washing facilities are compulsory. I will leave a few back numbers of CRASH on the dressing table for you to read after your nice refreshing shower... ha... ha...!
I’m holding on to all the tunes sent in this year and filing them away in the apple store under the stairs. At the end of the year, we will see which one is worthy of a free bundle of software. Keep sending them in. While on the subject of tunes I might just (if the editor isn’t looking) (fat chance of that — Ed) get a quick plug in for my own tape recorded specially for Newsfield. It runs for an hour and contains lots of tunes and things, all generated and controlled via MIDI using some of the software and hardware reviewed on the motel kitchen table. It’s available now to all Newsfield readers at the special, rock bottom, ‘I’m not making a penny guv’, price of £2.99 from the usual address which is as ever Bates Motel, c/o CRASH.