Saturday, July 4, 2009


MicroRhythm is a drum machine for the Commodore 64, written by Simon Pick and released by Firebird. It is a single channel drum machine, which one may find a tad limiting. As usual, you create patterns (bars) and then string them together to form a drum track (song). Each bar or pattern holds a maximum of 16 steps.

F1 toggles between "bar write" and "song write" mode.

In "bar write" mode, to change the bar (pattern), you just enter the bar number. In "song write" mode, to add a bar or pattern, you enter the bar number and press return. It will be added to the left of the cursor. When you start writing a (blank) song, the cursor says ST (start). The patterns are added to the left but they are played from left to right.

If you use ccs64 (should be the same for the other C64 emulators like VICE), this is what the pc keyboard keys do in "bar write" mode:

* left/right (up/down) arrows moves sound cursor to the right (left)
* Q = bass drum (BS)
* W = snare drum (SN)
* E = tom-tom aka low tom(TM)
* R = tom-tom +2 pitch aka medium tom (TM +2)
* T = tom-tom +4 pitch aka high tom (TM +4)
* Y = rim (RM)
* U = cow bell (CW)
* I = hand clap (CL)
* O = not sure (TA)
* P = hi-hat closed (HC)
* [ = hi-hat open (HO)
* ] = cymbal (CY)
* space = silence
* F adds flam
* -/= increases/decreases the pitch (by one semi-tone, I assume)
* D/G decreases/increases flam time
* C (pressed twice; press B to deselect) clears the pattern (bar)
* ;/' removes/adds a step in the bar
* ,/. decreases/increases tempo speed
* S plays/stops the pattern

This is what the pc keyboard keys do in "song write" mode:

* A opens song A
* B opens song B
* C opens song C
* D opens song D
* S plays/stops the song
* backspace removes the bar at the cursor

This video shows the predefined pattern 00 and then plays predefined song B.

This second video (could not resist!) plays predefined song A. I think it's a killer drum solo. Goes to show you really don't need that many channels in a drum machine. Apparently, one might be more than enough.

Even though there's only one channel available, being able to add flam and change the pitch of any drum sound is pretty cool. In case you don't know, a flam is a (weaker) repeat of a drum hit. In MicroRhythm, you can adjust the time between the main stroke and the repeat (flam time). Kudos to the developer for this fine piece of software.

MicroRhythm Plus is the sequel to MicroRhythm. It's actually 4 music apps in one: MicroDisco, MicroLatin, MicroVocals and MicroTuned. The interface remains the same, it's the sample sounds that change. Have checked all 4 and the samples are not that groundbreaking when compared to the original ones (the disco one is pretty disappointing actually), so stick with this one and you won't miss much.

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