ZX Computing

Wham! The Music Box
By Melbourne House
Spectrum 48K

Published in ZX Computing #27

Wham! (The Music Box)

The program stands up on its own - without the Wham! tie-up - and I have heard music produced on this used in several games, mostly MH's.

The most striking thing about this program is that by clever programming your ears are fooled into hearing two channel sound. Several sounds by the duo have been included as demos and pretty impressive they sound.

Of course, now the 128 is here the program is a bit outdated due to the AY sound chip now being used.

Wham! The Music Box

Once you've loaded the program, a menu appears giving options to Load tune, Save tune, Hear tune, Whampiler, Set tempo, Edit or Help. The instruction insert is a strange mixture of brevity and step by step details. Bits of it were slightly confusing.

Drum effects can be used, but these use both channels so a musical note cannot be played at the same time. This means a fair bit of ingenuity is needed to use the percussion effectively.

The "Whampiler" is a great boon, turning a novelty program into a useful utility. This allows you to save your tune in a form which you can use in your own games.

Note entry is a bit awkward, and needs getting used to. This is not really a program for the musical novice, although such a person could use it successfully, but more a utility for musical computerists or games writers who want the best sounds available in their program.

It is quirky to use, editing is easy though, and this is an important factor, with patience and time you can produce the best music/effects possible on the 48K Spectrum.

I enjoy using it, though dedicated musicians may find its limitations and unusual features off-putting. For instance, all the ntoes are entered as semiquavers and longer notes are made up of repeating as many as are required. This means fast single note trills are nearly impossible to do.

Although even a little expression is feasible using the percussion, the end result is still rather robotic.

Screen display is varied, at times clear and simple and at times rather cluttered. The user is well prompted but sometimes careful scrutiny of the screen is needed to find the info you want.

All in all, a very useful and interesting program, especially if you have an external amp/beep booster attached.