Incognito Software
1984
Utility: Music
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

63
Roger Keane
Chris Bourne

It's unlikely that the sound output of the Spectrum will ever rival that of the London Symphony Orchestra or that a budding Beethoven will claim his Spectrum taught him what he knew. Mind you, unless you significantly amplify the sound output for this Sinclair program, you might think you are simulating Beethoven's inability to hear what he was playing because of his deafness!

Musicmaster is a rather jolly tutorial program which allows you to create tunes and play them. The program can hardly be claimed as a utility, and it probably fails to be educational in a detailed manner. There are two modes available - stave or keyboard. Stave mode provides a range of two octaves upwards from A below middle C and uses the alphabet keys a tog and a to G The notes may be prefaced by pressing keys S (sharp), L (flat) or N (natural). Keyboard mode allows the two top rows of the keyboard to be used as a keyboard instrument with 10 white notes and 7 black notes from middle C upwards. There is an overlay supplied for the keys to help you play.

The main menu allows you to select Notes On Music. a sub-menu with five sections otters reasonably detailed notes on music and writing it as it applies to this program. Note pitch, duration are covered, rests - the space allowed between notes: key and time signatures. Tune creation may be done in either stave or keyboard mode. In either case the notes played are shown on screen and heard. Before a tune can be written you must enter the time signature and whether sharps and flats are to be used. At this stage a knowledge of music would be useful but it isn't essential. At any stage, pressing K will end the tune and it may be played back at varying speeds up to 200 crotchets per minute. Tunes may be saved.

CRITICISM

The main drawback with any music program for the Spectrum is the Spectrum itself. Its sound limitations really make it little more than a toy when it comes to music. Obviously with one one channel it isn't possible to make up really interesting sounds and one is restricted to the familiar beep with different durations. That said, it is possible to write neat tunes with this program and the Notes section does help to make it a valuable early learning aid (not necessarily for children either).'

'Being in BASIC there are aspects which are slow. Some of the graphics take their time to build up, and you can get stuck for ages in the notes section on duration. I wouldn't think this is intended as a serious music learning program, although it could be useful for back up purposes in learning I was surprised to see that in Keyboard mode you can delete the last note written, but apparently you can't do so in Stave mode.'

'Musicmaster may be a way of learning about music. or a way of teaching people about music BUT being written in BASIC it is Impossible to get any beats and tempos going realistically. It's odd that Sinclair have released something that is written in BASIC when they could have done a program in machine code and included far more features like synthesis.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: all by on-screen prompts
Use of colour: simple. But clear
Graphics: stave and note representation works very well
Sound: rather depends on you
General Rating: Within its BASIC limitations and that of the Spectrum itself, this turns out to be an interesting program that should provide fun and entertainment - but it has got its limitations.

55%
68%
72%
78%
60%
67%

Screenshot Text

Or you can become a keyboard Beethoven with the Stave mode.

Music Master's keyboard mode.