When reviewing any music product for the Spectrum, no matter how clever it is, it's always difficult to resist the feeling that the whole business is a pretty pointless exercise.
Pointless anyway if you are seriously interested in music. One monophonic line of melody, one completely characterless Seep sound - what less could you ask for?
Oliver's Music Box allows you to enter musical notes from the Qwerty keyboard, see them displayed in a fair copy of conventional music notation, and play the music back in different keys and pitches.
Music Box has some nice features. The main thing is it looks good. It has probably the most accurate visual representation of sheet music I've seen in a Spectrum music program. The crotchets, quavers and minims, along with sharp, flat and other annotations, look right - maybe you could even print this stuff out and play it. There are problems, however.
Music Box falls down in its editing facilities. The first irritation is in entering the music - you must select not only note duration, key and sign but also octave. This can take quite a while and reinforces my belief that relying on pure keyboard entry (rather than say, some sort of joystick controlled on-screen system where you 'place' notes on the screen leger lines) is a mistake.
If the above is (maybe) a matter of taste, the correcting, deleting and inserting facilities surely are not. In order to delete a note you have to hear all the notes from the beginning, deleting a whole bar of notes therefore involves hearing the tune from the beginning to that point for every note in the bar.
The best that can be said of Oliver's Music Box is that it works, is slicker than the majority of similar offerings and has as wide a range of features as you need worry about given the hardware capabilities.
I should add, however, that the general fiddlyness of actually using the package might put you off completely.
A 128 version is expected and that could well be a different ballgame entirely.
Label: Cosmic Pop
Author: Malcolm Shykles
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Looks good with some sophisticated features. Spoilt by over-fussy input and correction procedures.