Atari users with CD‑ROM drives can take advantage of a new disc crammed with MIDI and audio bits and pieces, for just £25. Derek Johnson gives it a spin.
As a musician with an Atari, you may have a CD‑ROM drive attached to your computer. If this is the case, then Floppyshop have just the thing for you: the new Sounds and Stuff: The Atari Musician's Toolkit CD‑ROM. The disk is packed with public‑domain and shareware music software for the Atari, so much so that I can't even summarise it here. Let's just say that there can hardly be a better collection of sample converters, players, editors, trackers, utilities, MOD players, MIDI tools, sequencers, synth editor/librarians and MIDI File players this side of the Internet. In fact, the Internet was searched for the latest versions of the latest titles, making the disk as up‑to‑date as possible.
Along with the software, there are nearly 1000 16‑bit AVR‑format sound samples, plus hundreds of files in MOD, Quartet and MIDI File formats. Samples include loops and single hits, with classic Roland drum machines and synths much in evidence, as well as orchestral instruments and vocal samples.
Much of the software is suitable for all Atari users, but there's also 20Mb of Falcon‑specific software. In addition, a range of non‑music utilities is included (mono emulators and that sort of thing), as well as a few games. The collection is rounded off with a set of useful text files covering audio and MIDI matters, and even includes a fully working version of Electronic Cow's Sound Chip Synth v2.32. One particularly amazing thing about Sounds and Stuff is its price: just £25, plus postage (£2 UK, £3 Europe, £4 rest of the world).
A wander around Electronic Cow's web site turns up brand‑new versions of a range of free titles; they're downloadable from the web site, and are also included on Floppyshop's Sounds and Stuff CD‑ROM. Firstly, there's Charming Chaos v0.1, a simple two‑part algorithmic/random music program for any Atari that couldn't be easier to use. Each of the software's two parts (labelled A and B) can have its own MIDI channel (or they can share one) and program‑change number; there are also volume and pan controls, plus an autopan switch and a global tempo control. Four buttons (labelled A to D) in each part complete the control set, and these buttons are the key to the software's operation: each contains a random note generation algorithm. The more buttons you press — thereby activating more algorithms — the more complex the result, with chords and note clusters occurring. Each algorithm is "sort of in‑key", which, according to the accompanying text document, is the explanation for the 'Charming' part of the software's name.
The results are fun and suitably random, and the program bodes well for the fully working commercial algorithmic music composition tool Electronic Cow are planning, complete with MIDI file export, load/save, editable algorithms, MIDI clock and "loads of tracks". If you're interested, let the guys know, and they'll be encouraged to keep working on it.
You may already be familiar with Wibbly Wave, now at v0.6a. This program is essentially a cut‑down version of Sound Chip Synth, and lets you generate analogue‑style 8‑ or 16‑bit AVR samples that can then be loaded into a sample editor or tracker program. A sound is created using one of four waveforms — square, pulse, sawtooth and triangle/sine — and the user can add modulation, courtesy of depth and rate controls. One of three preset envelopes (fairly slow attack, sustained period, relatively long decay; fast attack and decay; and flat envelope with a smooth fade) can be selected. Note that you need either an STE/TT or Falcon to play back digital audio; STFM owners can generate samples but won't hear their work till it's loaded into a sample editor.
Lastly, Wave Dumper v0.1a is a potentially useful one‑trick program: it'll let you load a WAV audio file and send it to your sampler via MIDI Sample Dump Standard. If you need this function in the simplest possible form, look no further. There's even a driver for Akai's venerable S900.
News now of some pretty unmissable offers from HiSoft Systems, especially if you use your Atari for non‑musicial purposes, or have (or are planning to add) a hard drive to your system. Check out the prices for these classic Atari packages:
- TruePaint, a best‑selling true‑colour paint program: £5.
• TrueImage image processor: £5.
• Diamond Back 3, a top hard disk backup tool: £15.
• Diamond Edge 2 disk management tools: £15.
• Twist 2 power database: £20.
This offer is strictly on a 'while stocks last' basis, so move quickly.
Back in May of this year, we brought you advance news of Electronic Cow's forthcoming Squash It! sample editor for the ST/Falcon family. As of writing, it's still not quite ready, but is in serious beta testing, with an official launch due at the Atari Computing Convention at Bingley Hall, Staffordshire Showground, Stafford, on November 14 (Sharward Promotions +44 (0)1473 741533). A price has also been fixed: £59 plus £2.50 UK postage. Just to recap, Squash It! allows you to "be more creative with your sample data". Functions include time‑stretch, frequency expansion, compressor and gate, harmonise, granularise, digital delay, envelope shaper, low‑ and high‑pass filters, and much, much more. You can load AVR, AIFF, WAV files, or raw sample data, or capture samples from your sampler.
Squash It! is available from Floppyshop, or direct from Electronic Cow.