Music Typewriter is a very impressive and well thought out package which assumes a level of musical knowledge before you start - and the booklet that comes with the program points out that no attempt is made to explain musical theory in the manual or in the program.
The graphical representation of notes and staves is quite brilliant, putting to shame the displays generated not only by the other Spectrum programs we've taken a look at but bettering the offerings of most expensive professional music systems. A joy to look at indeed.
Musically it is the most accurate of the Spectrum software allowing the use of bass and treble clefs and it's the only program to allow staccato and legato phrasing - music can be written exactly how a musician would write it out to be played expressively.
Music Typewriter comes with a keyboard overlay which renders input both user and musician friendly. The program allows hard copy to be generated as well as providing a transposition facility, with all incidentals being adjusted automatically. Up to sixteen tunes can be stored in memory, which has a cataloguing facility and tunes may be repeated a discrete number of times or endlessly. Up to 254 bars of music may be stored at any one time.
Working from a three screen menu the program is well documented and has a well ordered editing and cataloguing facility. Interestingly, Romantic Robot can supply a version of the software to drive a sound generation chip or even a MIDI interface (More about them next issue). Sadly there isn't a real time sequencing facility as offered by Spectune, and a little niggle is caused by the continental notation used for the note 'B' which appears as 'H', which might just confuse a few people.
Overall a very respectable program, visually attractive which is simple to use and is bound to appeal to any musician. For a musical illiterate background reading would be vital - as the manual suggests - and the software would provide a useful visual illustration of the theoretical concepts.
Eat your heart out Fairlight.
(but see Educational Value).
Not for the complete beginner; it is not intended as an educational program.