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Evolution Music Creator Pro

PC music Package By Paul White
Published January 1997

Paul White explores the budget side of sequencing with Evolution's inexpensive keyboard and PC sequencing software bundle.

Music Creator Pro is a 'get started in sequencing' bundle comprising a 4‑octave, 49‑key MIDI master keyboard and Evolution's own 'MIDI + Audio' sequencing software for the PC. Unlike some of the very cheap controller keyboards designed for computer users, this one has full‑sized keys with a reasonable sprung action, wheels for both modulation and pitch bend, and a number of buttons for changing keyboard response, sending MIDI patch changes, transposing, and so forth.

Key Facts

Physically, the keyboard is a little lightweight and plasticky, with power supplied by an external PSU or from batteries. Though batteries are an expensive way to work, this method of powering could come in handy when you take your laptop on a camping trip and want to work on your latest epic in the evenings. By way of connections, there's only a rear‑panel socket for a hold footswitch, a single MIDI Out on a conventional 5‑pin DIN, and the PSU input socket.

At the centre of the keyboard's front panel is a 3‑digit LED display window, used to display patch and editing data. Nine numeric buttons and plus/minus cursor keys are accompanied by six additional dual‑function buttons, the power switch, and a slide volume control which transmits MIDI controller 7 (volume) information on whatever channel is currently selected. Using the dual‑function buttons in their primary mode, it's possible to change the control wheel assignment, MIDI channel, and the Program, Memory, Transpose and Octave settings. In addition to being able to send program change numbers, it's also possible to specify your own choice of MSB (Most Significant Byte) and LSB (Least Significant Byte) values, for sending MIDI bank change messages, and the first five numeric keys can be used in combination with the Memory button to store your favourite 'patch number + bank' combinations for instant recall.

Holding down specific pairs of keys activates the second function of the dual‑function buttons: on the performance side, the keyboard features 10 selectable velocity curves (based on linear, exponential, reverse exponential, S‑shaped and fixed curves). The same 'two at a time' procedure is used to access the bank LSB and MSB data and to provide GM reset (resets a General MIDI‑compatible synth or sound module to GM defaults) and controller reset. There are no keyboard split or aftertouch facilities, but considering the level at which this keyboard is aimed, that's not too much of a surprise.

The keyboard feels much as you'd expect a budget synth keyboard to feel — functional, but unexceptional. Both wheels work smoothly enough, and the ability to modify the velocity response curve is particularly useful, but I did catch the keyboard misbehaving on one or two occasions, when a quietly‑played 'A' note spontaneously retriggered at a higher velocity level or triggered again when released. This is almost certainly a one‑off fault, but if you're considering buying one, you should check anyway.

Evolution Audio

Bundled with the keyboard is the Evolution Audio sequencer. At first glance, this appears to offer a slightly‑simplified version of the Cubase user interface. Though there's no way to record audio from within the sequencer, you can bring in WAV files and play them as part of a sequence. For such an inexpensive sequencer, this has quite a few sophisticated features, but there's no facility for sync'ing to MIDI Clock or MTC — at least, none that I could find. Icons down the left‑hand side of the page take you to the various edit windows, and these include the familiar MIDI event list, a piano roll‑style editor, a notepad, a very welcome General MIDI mixer map, complete with reverb, chorus, pan and level controls, a virtual keyboard that lights up as you play the real keyboard, a single‑stave score, and a tempo track. In the tempo track, tempo changes can be 'drawn in' as steps on a tempo line, but there's no way to create perfectly smooth tempo changes.

As it stands, the package enables the entry‑level user to start making music very quickly.

To make life easier for the less musically accomplished, there's also a chord track, into which you can place up to 12 variations on any chord, from major to augmented. This drives an auto‑accompaniment section comprising a choice of 16 cheesy but cheerful styles, ranging from rock to reggae. A few stunningly bad demo tunes are provided to give an idea of what the program can do.

The familiar sequencing functions are all there, right down to the Cubase‑style tool palette, but frustratingly, a lot of the standard key commands adopted by other sequencer manufacturers are not employed here, so to delete a track, you have to press Shift and Delete rather than simply hitting backspace. Similarly, duplicating tracks doesn't follow the familiar Alt‑drag protocol. Another annoyance is that you can't play the sound assigned to a track until you've placed the track in Record Ready mode, and though the program contains a menu that lets you access GM sounds by name, the name doesn't actually come up on the main arrange page — you only see the patch number.

A number of quantise options are available, including triplet and swing variations, but some of these seemed to operate unpredictably. Furthermore, quantise doesn't seem to be undo‑able, which can be very frustrating.


Bearing in mind that this is an entry‑level package, and that the sequencer is virtually thrown in for free, the Evolution Music Creator Pro actually constitutes quite a good deal. Aside from the intermittent keyboard fault mentioned earlier, the keyboard works just fine and feels no worse than most low‑cost synths.

Though the sequencer provides its fair share of frustrations, it is possible to do some fairly serious work on it once you've come to terms with its little foibles and keyboard shortcuts. Most of the tools you need for basic music sequencing are here somewhere, even down to percentage quantise, and aside from the lack of a sync facility, the only major flaw is the permanency of the quantise operation (no Undo option). Realistically, a first‑time user will probably grow out of this sequencer pretty quickly, but the time invested in learning it won't be wasted, as most of the operating methodology draws close parallels with Cubase and Logic. Trading up to a more sophisticated sequencer should be more like getting out of a well‑used Lada and into a Golf GTI than moving from a car to a space shuttle. It's also worth pointing out that the software installed with no problem, it recognised all my MIDI drivers, and it didn't crash — no mean achievement on a PC! What's more, the whole manual is only 48 pages long, and covers most functions in adequate depth, and the use of icons on the main arrange page makes it easy to jump from one edit page to another.

With just a little more work on the user interface, Evolution could turn what is a 'good for the money' sequencer into something really solid — but even as it stands, the package still enables the entry‑level user who already has a PC and a soundcard to start making music very cheaply and quickly. Far from perfect, but fair value nonetheless.

Package Deal

Evolution also produce an even cheaper keyboard and software package, the Music Creator, which sells for around £50‑60. This combination is comprised of the basic MK10 MIDI controller keyboard, with 49 mini keys, and the "fun to use" Key West beginner's sequencer. The package is aimed more at the music hobbyist or absolute beginner than the more serious musician, and apparently sells well in the high street.


  • Inexpensive.
  • Relatively uncomplicated.
  • Built‑in auto‑accompaniment.


  • Some non‑standard control operations.
  • Non‑reversible quantise.


An affordable 'keyboard + software' bundle for the PC. Most users will probably outgrow the sequencer before they become dissatisfied with the keyboard.