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A.P.I Review: MUSIC
Developer: Codemasters OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Codemasters 1 Player
Game Type: Music Creation Memory Card
Review Date: November 1998 Standard Joypad

Setting the Scene

MUSIC is NOT a game, so don't be under the misapprehension that this is another of those colourful 3D platform adventure game, where your cute character must rescue all of the notes that were stolen by the evil wizard.

MUSIC is NOTHING LIKE Parappa or Bust-a-Groove, so there will be no endless button pressing in time to a video or music sequence.

MUSIC is also NOT something that will interest an accomplished musician who thinks that it will allow him to plug his keyboard into the back of his PlayStation and turn it into a state of the art midi compatible sequencer.

So now you know what its NOT, I guess those of you who are still reading this review are interested in finding out what this piece of software actually does.

Take Aim

MUSIC has been aimed fairly and squarely at the vast majority of us bozo's who have ever listened to a tune on the radio and thought "Jeez I could do better than that..!"

Better still the software assumes that you have a head full of ideas but the musical knowlege of a baby chimpanzee. So forget about "Sharps", "Flats" and "Semi Quavers" because all of that boring stuff has been done for you.

For far too long, the complicated theory that surrounds the composition of musical tunes has been a barrier that has prevented most of us from trying to transpose those tunes that buzz around inside our heads into reality.

Getting Creative

Anyone who knows what a sequencer is, will quickly feel at home with the concept of MUSIC. Basically they allow you to link together lots of little musical patterns and repeat them in different places within the tune. The most time consuming and difficult part of using a professional sequencer is that it expects you to record each of these patterns yourself - note by note. MUSIC provides you with over 700 of these patterns (or Riffs) pre-recorded and ready for you to bolt together in different ways.

When starting to construct a track you may decide to put the drum beat into place first. Simply play a few of the pre-prepared drum riffs and when you find one that suits the feel of your track paste it into the first few bars of the sequencer.

You can then overlay up to 15 other types of instrument riffs over the top of the drum beat until you end up with something that resembles a tune. Once placed into the sequence, each of the riffs can be copied and pasted into different parts of the track - allowing you, for example, to repeat the sequence of riffs that make up the chorus few times throughout the tune.

I know that this may sound a little complicated, but in practice its very simple. Within twenty minutes receiving this software I had managed to bolt enough of these riffs together to make up over a minutes worth of a track. We also tried out this software with a twelve year old, just to see how accessible the software would be for younger gamers. We were amazed to find that after leaving them with the software for a weekend, he had constructed several original tracks and found it very easy to use.

The sounds themselves are of professional quality and sound stunning when your PlayStation is connected to a quality Hi-fi system. Many of the samples are recorded in surround sound adding another dimension to the tracks that use them.

Once you have owned this software for a few weeks, you may start to feel that many of your tracks are starting to sound similar. For those of you who want to make completely original tracks, MUSIC includes a riff editor which allows you to take any of the 3000 individual instrument samples and construct your own patterns. Use of this editor is made a little slow and cumbersome due to the fact that each of the notes must be entered using your joypad.

If you are looking for even more flexibility then the sample editor lets you re-tune any of the instrument sounds to such a degree that will leave them unrecognisable from their original form.

This opens up the software to a much larger audience and means that with a little time and effort a truly unique track of very high quality is possible. I guess it's only a matter of time before we see a MUSIC creation appear in the dance music charts.

There's More

Once your track is complete its off to the video editing area where you can choose from over 300 pre-recorded video sequences which can be linked to your tune in a multitude of ways.

Each of the video effects are connected together in an almost identical way to that just used in the music construction section. Typically you will choose a background, rotation, shapes, camera and a set of particles. As before, you can select from a selection of pre made sequences, or create your very own, the choice is yours.

Needless to say the construction of a great video will often take far longer than making the track its-self. If you find this a little time consuming, then there is an option to let the PlayStation randomly auto-generate your video for you.

Value for Money

Unlike a game this program has no beginning, middle or end, so the lifespan should range from a few weeks to many months. Its also a brilliant first step for many people to get into the musical composition, without spending a fortune on very expensive equipment that may never be fully utilised.

GRAPHICS:   What separates this from similar programs such as "Fluid" is that it allows you to break away from using all of the example "riffs" and start constructing your own. It even lets you completely re-tune each of the provided sound samples by such a massive degree that you could safely make up your own tunes that sounded completely unique. Add that to the fact that each composition takes up just one memory card block and its easy to see that with only two PlayStations a mixer, speakers and amplifier, you could hold your very own rave party for your mates.

This is by far the closest thing to a real sequencer that has ever been done on any games console and the makers should be saluted for their bravery in exploring new avenues that could turn the PlayStation into something more then just a games machine. All we need now is for someone to come up with a MIDI adapter to slot into the back of you console, allowing you could connect a proper music keyboard and the PSX could have a whole new lease of life.


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