A dedicated American music professor currently provides one of the very few serious scoring programs for the ST as $20 shareware. Derek Johnson checks it out, and also discovers a neat utility that could make life easier for Akai sampler users...
Atari users haven't got a lot of choice when it comes to software dedicated to the laying out and printing of musical scores. Currently, there's only one serious option — Proscore, now up to v1.92, which has been under development for a number of years. The man behind Proscore, Dr Terrence Kelly, is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin‑La Crosse in the USA. His aim in developing the software was to provide a composer with the same freedom in working with music notation that word processing brings to text. In its present form, Proscore is not a MIDI program: it's been designed for the rapid input of musical notation via the ST's keyboard and mouse. While not quite a true music publishing program (it doesn't offer any scaling of printouts), Proscore is capable of producing near‑print quality scores, with a features list which includes the following:
- Multi‑part scores up to 18 parts
- Score size limited only by available computer memory
- Comprehensive cursor commands
- Block functions and part extraction
- Transposition — one part or full score
- Full automation of clef and key signature input
- Full control over spacing
- Comprehensive beaming
- Easy editing and entry of score markings
Dr Kelly continues to develop Proscore — he uses it exclusively in his own compositions. In the pipeline is NIFF (Notation Interchange File Format) compatibility, which should make Proscore files transportable to other software and computer platforms. Proscore was designed for the ST/Falcon 030 line, and needs 1Mb of RAM or more and an ST hi‑res or better monitor; it's been tested on an STe, and the author runs it on a TT, with the MagiC operating system and a large‑screen monitor. However, it's not quite that simple. Your computer must also be running a system enhancement tool such as SpeedoGdos v5 or NVDI v3 or v4. Proscore uses a scalable TrueType font to display and print musical symbols; this font is public domain and is included with the program. In order to access the on‑line documentation, you'll also need the ST Guide shareware hypertext desk accessory.
One more thing: Proscore isn't free, it's shareware. However, the registration fee is laughably low — US$20 — so if you're interested, there's little excuse for not giving it a try. Note that registration unlocks one very important feature: the ability to print more than just the first page of your score.
As with most new bits of ST software, I disovered Proscore v1.92 on the Internet, at the Ultimate TOS Software Index ( ping4.ping.be/dipching‑drulkhor/PRG‑IND2.HTM), which led me to Terrence Kelly's Proscore page ( www.pressenter.com/~tkelly/).
The Atari ST is a deservedly popular computer even now, offering quite a bit of power for not a lot of cash. Akai's venerable S900 12‑bit offers a similarly affordable road to sampling to newcomers and the financially challenged, with a typical street price these days of £300‑£400. And what better way to get your ST interacting with your S900 than by checking out Jules Vleugels' Akai Sample EXchange (or AkaiSEX for short, embarrassingly enough). This program was developed initially to aid those wanting to trade Akai samples over the Internet. Due to Akai's non‑standard, non‑MS‑DOS‑compatible disk format, this required a little ingenuity on the part of the author. However, once the format problem was cracked, it was a relatively simple matter to get the program to read S1000 and S3000 disks as well. Now, rather than handling complete disk images, Akai Sample EXchange lets you exchange programs and individual samples (or effect settings, or whatever), even between different samplers. So samples can be easily swapped between an S1000 and an S3000, which have incompatible disk formats, or between a 12‑bit S900 and a 16‑bit S3000, which have almost nothing in common. The conversion is transparent to the user.
The latest Atari version (1.26) reads any specific item (sample, program, effect settings and so on) from S900, S950, S1000, S01, S3000, and S2000 disks, and writes it back to any other of these disks, converting between the different formats and 12‑bit/16‑bit sample format if necessary. The programs and sampler‑specific data are stored in a custom format; samples are stored as standard AIFF‑C files, which can easily be converted into other formats, or imported by other programs. It is thus possible to use AkaiSeX to import AIFF and AIFF‑C files and write their contents to a sampler disk of choice.
Try you favourite PD library for this useful program, or take your Internet browser to www.cs.ruu.nl/~jules/Akai/Disk/a..., where it can be downloaded. This page also has some interesting information regarding a v4.0 operating system upgrade for the S900.