Thursday, June 18, 2009


Electrosound from Orpheus is a synthesizer/sequencer for the Commodore 64. It is one among the many music creation apps that are available for the C64. You write tracks (songs) by combining so-called sequences (patterns). You compose a sequence by assigning a note (and its instrument) to a channel for each sequence step. Electrosound has three channels and a maximum of 240 steps per sequence.

I don’t think Electrosound is the best music making app out there but it’s probably the easiest to use without a manual. You don’t have to create your own instruments/sounds as there are plenty to choose from. Having a two-octave keyboard to punch on makes writing the sequences quite easy especially if you have no idea about musical notation (but are somewhat familiar with a piano keyboard).

When you press the (enter) key anywhere in the program, you are taken to the menu screen:

* 1 Manual Play
* 2 Sequence Play
* 3 Sequence Write
* 4 Track Play
* 5 Track Write
* 6 Tape/Disk

Let’s focus on the key functions for the sequence write and track write sections since everything else is not that interesting.

Sequence write

* N play
* M pause/continue
* B stop
* , go backward one step
* . go forward one step
* return : go into menu
* A Channel 1 +
* S Channel 2 +
* D Channel 3 +
* F Channel 1 Switch +/-
* G Channel 2 Switch +/-
* H Channel 3 Switch +/-
* J Channel 1 Filter +/-
* K Channel 2 Filter +/-
* L Channel 3 Filter +/-

Track write

* Z Decrease track number
* shift+Z Increase track number
* X Decrease sequence number
* shift+X Increase sequence number
* C Delete last sequence
* shift+C Add sequence

In sequence write mode (if you are using CCS64 on a pc and I believe VICE should be the same):

* (’) key changes the filter setting (channel 1 to 3)
* (`) key resets the current sequence
* up/down arrow increases/decreases the number of steps in the sequence
* (shift+x)/(x) key switches sequence up/down
* (F1) key switches channel

In the video, you see/hear one track made up of three 16 step sequences. The melody (on the 3rd channel) is totally random (most of the time).

In conclusion, Electrosound is a very user-friendly synthesizer/sequencer (probably the most user-friendly of all). Of course, it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of more involved C64 music apps (in particular, regarding instrument creation) but I can guarantee you that you will be creating beautiful SID music in very little time with Electrosound.

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