Software Cottage
Not Known
ZX Spectrum 48K

Jon Bates, Graeme Kidd
Chris Bourne

Jumpy Snake Blues is a musical game of snakes and ladders which helps to train the players ear to recognise musical intervals. Again, a demonstration program heads up the game, and the player can play against the computer (which gets the answer right every time, allowing for practice between turns) or against a friend which introduces an element of competition. The computer plays two notes and the player(s) have to recognise the interval - the correct answer moves the player's counter on the snakes and ladders board forward by the interval just identified. The winner is the player who gets to the top of the board first.

Honky Tonk is a note matching game which helps develop the players sense of pitch. A grand piano, perfectly in tune acts as a reference while the player tries to tune a honky tonk piano by moving the pitch of its notes up or down in small or large steps.

Each time the player refers to the grand piano for the correct note, ten points are knocked off the score so far, which starts at 1000. There are 4 levels to the game. At the lowest, where the honky tonk tunes up in quarter and semitones, even my assistant seemed to be able to cope passably well.At level four, where the steps are sixteenth and thirty-seconds of a tone, a very sharp sense of pitch is needed to achieve a high score.

When the player believes the honky tonk piano is in tune, the games ends and it plays a rag-time tune - going out of tune painfully if the honky tonk wasn't tuned perfectly. (Even Graeme winced at this losers rendition of the tune)!

Overall there is definitely a place for the games in the classroom. They're easy to use, friendly but perhaps a little repetitive on the graphics and visual strings offered up as rewards. Jumpy Snake Blues and Honky Tonk are aimed at anyone from 7 up who wants practice at training their ear and would be particularly useful to someone learning an instrument. Jumpy Snake would certainly help with Grade 5 or CSE Musical exams.

Firework and Water Music could easily have been tied in with a Handel tune to add that extra bit of gloss - I wonder why Software Cottage didn't take this step. They're an interesting way to teach the basics of music, and I liked the way they coped with leger lines on both the Bass and Treble Clefs.

The four games assume no musical knowledge at all and are quite fun to play as well as being instructional - though making a musician out of Graeme is probably beyond anyone's capabilities!


Cheerful, but a trifle repetitive methinks.