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Schoenberg v3; Finding Software On The Internet

Atari Notes By Derek Johnson
Published September 1997

There's still loads of software and support emerging for the venerable Atari — including packages which let you get 'netted'. Derek Johnson elaborates.

I registered my copy of Schoenberg, the serial composition tool, this month. The latest full version (v3) really does give you some serious possibilities. The software is still challenging, but it's easier to get predictable results, and create music that isn't necessarily 12‑tone in nature. Other new features include a MIDI File save option, parts playable on all 16 MIDI channels, and General MIDI support via a separate screen. That was £5 well spent! Author Gareth Jones is working on v5, which will include even more playback modes, including triplet multiplier and echo modes, the ability to create multi‑part compositions using different combinations of tone rows, and drop‑down menus.

Gareth also sent me copies of some of his other software, which you can find in most libraries. Picture Music creates music from low‑resolution colour pictures: you select which four areas of the picture you want to convert, and the program scans those areas and turns each colour into a different MIDI note. Music can be saved as MIDI files in the latest version (v3), which also provides GM support. ST Muse generates musical output from combinations of binary counters, shift registers, and random elements, controlled from a graphical interface, and MIDI Mouse Music is a "fun program" that turns your mouse into a MIDI instrument. I also have copies of Psycho‑MIDI, Psycho‑Script and Psycho‑Fractal, cut‑down versions of a full program called Psycho‑Movie. Psycho‑MIDI colour‑modulates low‑res pictures using MIDI commands, generating psychedelic effects; Psycho‑Script is similar, but without MIDI control; and Psycho‑Fractal is a run‑only demo of the Psycho‑Movie package.

Net Gains

It won't have escaped your notice that much of the software mentioned in this column can be found on the Internet. If you're curious about using your antique platform to gain access to this modern phenomenon, you're in luck. Microsoft and Netscape are unlikely to be producing ST/Falcon versions of their Explorer and Navigator software any time soon, but pretty well everything you can do on a Mac or PC you can do on your Atari, using software written and supported by enthusiasts. Apart from the software, you'll obviously need a modem and an Internet account, and you might find you'll need a hard drive and 4Mb of RAM, if you haven't already got them. Here's a list of some popular Internet software for the Atari:

  • CAB (Crystal Atari Browser): a popular, sophisticated web browser.
  • STiK (ST Internet Kit): handles the routing of data between the connection to your Internet service provider and whatever Internet software — email, ftp or web‑browsing clients — you have running on your computer. I understand that current versions connect via SLIP, with PPP coming soon.
  • MG FTP: a graphic FTP package.
  • STiK IRC: lets you connect to an IRC server and indulge in Internet Relay Chat — the computer equivalent of CB radio.
  • Oasis: a shareware suite of programs which currently offers email, FTP, Telnet and more, with a fully graphic web browser due soon.

Luckily this software, and more, is available from public domain libraries, along with utilities that make light work of installation and configuration. In fact, Floppyshop (they of the music and MIDI pack I've mentioned recently) also do a comms starter pack consisting of six disks which give you all you need to get on the Internet, access bulletin boards or send faxes from your computer. The pack costs just £8 plus postage. (Floppyshop, PO Box 273, Aberdeen AB15 8GJ. Credit card orders 01224 312756. Fax 01224 586208. Email sdelaney@steil.wintermute.co.uk.). Once you're on‑line, you can download the latest versions of this software from Benelux Atari specialists MABN Computer Hardware's web page (www.xs4all.nl/~mabn/).

Going Public

I've just received a copy of Goodman's Atari Reference Guide, an 88‑page, loose‑leaf, illustrated listing of the masses of PD and shareware software in the Goodman's library. You can bind it however you like, and any additions or changes can be easily slotted in. The comms section is good, including some of the software mentioned above. On the music front, there's the legendary Henry Cosh sequencer, the companion disks to Martin Russ's Adventures in MIDIland 1990/91 SOS series, sundry SysEx utilities, and synth editors (for Korg M1, Casio VZ‑series, Korg 03R/W and others). Demos of the Electronic Cow series of programs are available, so if you want to try Sound Chip Synth or MIDI Arpeggiator before you buy, start here. An Atari Reference Guide subscription costs £15 a year in the UK (£20 Europe, £30 other countries), and for this you'll get new pages automatically, special offers, and two free standard catalogue disks when you subscribe. Contact Goodman's, 16 Conrad Close, Meir Hay, Longton, Stoke‑on‑Trent, Staffs ST3 1SW. (Tel: 01782 335650. Fax: 01782 316132).

While browsing the web in search of ST‑related internet information, I was reminded of another PD library: LAPD's web page has a full catalogue (with a few bits of downloadable software) at www.lapd.demon.co.uk/. You can contact them in the traditional manner at LAPD, PO Box 2, Heanor, Derbyshire DE75 7YP, telephone or fax 01773 761944/605010.