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RAINBIRD'S Advanced Music System is an upgrade of their original Music System. It runs on the 464, 664 and 6128 and is quite simply the best software music editor you can buy for these machines.

It basically consists of five interlinked modules - a keyboard, an editor, a synthesiser, a linker and a printer. All are controlled from a main screen divided into graphic representations of devices. You move around these devices on a circuit, and as each becomes active, it is highlighted by a 3D shadow effect.

The principal screen area is a window on to two staves (treble and bass) and notes can be entered either directly or via the top two lines of the computer keyboard configured as a piano. Envelope selection, dynamics, accidentals, metronome settings and other parameters are controlled either by icons or pull-down menus. Note information is stored in memory, and can later be saved to disc.

The keyboard is a real-time recording device for the three available sound channels (voices), and notes are sounded according to the current settings for envelope and dynamics. The range is just under two octaves, but this can be extended to the full range of the sound chip by using an octave-shift device. You can record only one voice at a time, but you can keep in sync by playing back the tracks already stored while recording. If you make a mistake it is a simple matter to overwrite the whole or part of a voice.

As you play, notes of the correct pitch and duration appear in the note window. Bar-lining is automatic, with ties being inserted where necessary, though the facility can be manually overriden for odd-sized bars.

In Edit mode you can enter music without the pressures of real-time recording, and edit note information recorded via the keyboard. All three voices can be displayed, and scrolled and sounded from and to any point.

The editor has all the facilities of the keyboard for bar-lining, envelope settings and so on, but works with a combination of pull-down menus and various keystrokes.

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There is a wide range of editing features - notes and rests can be inserted or deleted, note stems inverted, dynamic markings and repeat signs added, and much more. There is even a buffer, called a notepad, for holding half-baked ideas which can later be edited and inserted into a composition.

If you're used to using envelopesyou'll be impressed with how easily they can be controlled with the synthesiser module. If you haven't used envelopes before you'll be amazed at what you can create, from gentle sustained vibratos with long decays, to wild, strongly attacked pitch slides. With your Amstrad hooked up to a hi-fi system the effects "can be stunning.

With the synthesiser the excellent graphics really come into their own. There is total flexibility in using all envelope parameters, but you are shielded from the complexities of envelope creation and modification with, once again, a circuit of devices, and beautifully drawn pitch and amplitude graphs.

These can be used to experiment with sound shapes. The current shape can be sounded at any time without leaving the module, and when you're satisfied with the result the envelope can be incorporated into a tune, or stored for future use.

The main synthesiser screen can be popped up at any time. The devices it contains are used to switch between the pitch and amplitude graphs, and to set the envelope number, any of 31 noise numbers for percussive effects, step sizes, step numbers and the general shape of the graphs.

Two sets of seven envelopes are available. Only one set can be active, but a swapping facility allows you to read envelopes from the inactive set into the active one.

The Linker will handle a sequence of up to 13 separate files, any of which can be repeated at any point in the chain. The chain can have up to 99 links, which effectively means hours of continuous music.

The printer module will drive a dot matrix printer and offers a range of layout options rarely found, if at all, on comparable editors.

To take three examples, two files can be handled simultaneously (making it possible to print six-part music on a single stave), notes can be beamed (grouped with horizontal lines), and lyrics can be added to the score.

In addition to the five principal modules there are a number of other facilities and devices.

A command line with pull-down menus is used for loading and saving operations, displaying status information, and setting various values such as Italian tempi markings, key and time signatures, bar and note emphasis, and colour selection for the screen display.

A record/play-back device sets the volume, envelope and octave range of each voice. A bar meter visually indicates your position in each of the three voices, and the length of each voice in relation to the others.

There is also a freespace indicator - you can have up to 999 notes in memory - a smooth-scrolling metronome icon, and a record/play-back controller and indicator. At play-back the volume of each voice can be increased or decreased independently.

In both keyboard and edit modes, key signature is automatically taken into account. So, for example, in the key of E flat, entering the note A flat will display a plain A in the note window.

Automatic key signature is a feature of a number of music editors, but because of the constraints it imposes some of them cannot cope with the proper transposition of accidentals. However, The Advanced Music System has an intelligent transposition facility, which will insert the correct accidentals - if necessary double sharps and double flats -exactly as they would be in normal notation.

The package comes with 16 pre-set sounds, and a library of demonstration tunes, parts of which can of course be incorporated into your own compositions.

In such a well produced program it almost goes without saying that the documentation is excellent. But don't expect to be able to use The Advanced Music System properly unless you have at least a basic knowledge of musical notation. If you haven't, the very existence of this superb package should make it worth your while learning something about it.


★ YEAR: 1986
★ AUTHOR(S): ???
★ PRICE: £29.95 (disc)

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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.