Not long ago
I was searching the internet for more Atari
programs and came across Wolfgang
Martin Stroh's site (see link section) where
he describes his MIDI Planetarium
program. Seeing that it was originally written
for the Atari platform, I contacted
him. He responded very favorably by releasing
an entire package of algorithmic
music programs. While these programs are small,
they are what I would
call "jewels" of experimental music
that have to be heard and seen to be appreciated.
They were programmed using Omikron BASIC, which
as a matter of fact you need
to be able to run most of the programs (which
is provided in the package).
He also made stand-alone programs which can
be run without the Omikron BASIC
program. The programs range from MIDI loop recorders
to alternate mouse controllers.
Algorithmic players, MIDI drawing programs,
fractal programs and even an applications
that uses Keplers' Harmonic Mundi as source
material! While these programs
work on all STs and even runs under Steem,
the Atari emulator for
PC, it does not run on 030 machines such as
the Falcon or the TT030.
Here is the README.TXT
in which Wolfgang describes the programs:
= "Brain and Body", 11 Music-Programs
for experimental music ranging from
varying some inputs to algorithmic music and
random-experiments. The group "Brain
& Body" made many performance using
these programs. See: www.uni-oldenburg.de/~stroh/brainandbody/
= two Programs using the planetary frequencies
by Hans Cousto. See also www.uni-oldenburg.de/musik/planet/midipl.html
13 Programs from the Book "MIDI-Experiments"
(out of print). Put the content of
this file together with the content of omikron.zip
into one directory "Midiexp".
The File contains the text of the Chapter, in
which all the programs are
described. Then unzip the files "bas.zip"
into directory "bas" and "prg.zip"
into "prg". Then move directories
"bas" and "prg" into "Midiexp".
a Fractal Workstation and a Program, which uses
the algorithm of the workstation
but can be programmed explicitly. The original
is for a color-monitor. But there is also a
version for the ordinary Atari monitor.
are completely freeware!
After going though
most of the programs, here are my notes and
observations. To run most of
the programs, you need to run the OM_BASIC.PRG
(Omikron BASIC). Here's
how to do it:
on OM_BASIC.PRG. The dialog says to hit [Help].
The editor comes up. On the menu,
go to File and select Load. Go to the BAS
folder and now you can select
a BAS file. Once you see the dialog at the bottom
of the screen, hit [Enter] and
the program loads into the editor. Then go to
Run on the menu and select Run.
The program starts. Follow the instructions in the
programs which mostly say to select
the space bar to start it, or enter parameters.
is the key! If it stops working, you can reset
your ST, and you are taken back
to a prompt. From there you can hit the [Help]
key (which takes you back to the
editor), or type "run" and you are back to the
same program you started with.
If you want to quit the editor, just type "quit"!
If you want to
run the stand-alone programs (the PRG.ZIP)
unzip those without any folder right
onto a disk and they will run as-is. However, those
are just the MIDI experiment material. To run the Brain
and Body material you need to run the editor.
Here's a trick
to run the Brain and Body material. Load the
editor (as above) and select BRAIN_BO.BAS and run it. You will see a menu in which you
can select any of the programs
in the Brain and Body material. Since we are
on this subject, let's
When the program
loads start playing the QWERTY keyboard! Each
row of the QWERTY represents a
different MIDI channel, sound and effect. Very
2. MIDI Draw
controller program that has a program changer
in the middle of its screen that
makes for some real wild effects when you move
the mouse cursor over it.
3. MIDI Record
A MIDI recorder.
For some reason, I was not able to get this
to work properly, so I need to
player with a graphic interface.
5. Zufail Keyboard
player: no graphics but fantastic sound.
An algorithmic player
with beam graphics. Two channels and tracks.
Completely generative melodies
and counterpoint lines.
Same as above
but at a slower tempo.
Komposition (Algorithmic Blues)
A very cool and
abstract program with bass, melody and drum
patterns displayed on a graphic
algorithmic player. See top screenshot. The
wave is drawn as the music plays.
10. Keplers Harmonic
specified in Keplers musical theories. Hit the
space bar, and pick a planet!
This particular program is not on the menu however
(pun intended) so you have to
load the BAS file by itself from within the
This set of programs
is represented as stand-alone programs or you
can load them from the
players with different variation. ALGKOMP2
uses graphic circles that
points bounce off to create the sequence and
then you can play it. An interesting
2. DATA_ANA: a
You can play
your MIDI keyboard and see the system exclusive
messages it gives out for further
a two-part alternate mouse/drawing controller
Records and plays
your mouse performances from the grid with different
graphic styles to play
back the performance.
4. Editor: Simple
editor for patterns
5. ENTW_VAR: Algorithmic
My first impression
is a "Gentle Giant" style maker!
drawing program with a twist. When it first
opens, select ED and put in a number
from 1 to 64. Click into the graphic screen,
and play it.
alternate mouse controller
This one is for
FM synths that can handle microtonal scales.
DX7, SY77 and TG77 are supported.
Select your instrument, and hit the space bar,
then select ZE. A screen appears
for mouse play, but the sounds that come out
are microtonal in nature.
8. MUL_TAS0 and
Two program with
variations. A loop and mouse play instrument.
Just put in a MIDI channel.
and recorders. I was not able to get these to
work. Could be my set-up.
with impressive bar graphs that display and
grow while the music is playing.
A very graphic
oriented algorithmic player which use spirals
and geometric shapes to determine
using the planetary frequencies by Hans Cousto.
They are stand-alone programs.
Check out the MIDI Planetarium page on the links
A fractal workstation
and a program which uses the algorithm of the
workstation but can be programmed
explicitly. The original fractal workstation
is for a color monitor.
But there is also a version for the ordinary
these programs are like working with little
jewels. You can refine them until they
sparkle with clarity and uniqueness. It is programs
like this package that
make it a joy to have an Atari in the studio
and to see them for what they are:
jewels of the Atari heritage.
They are individual
Zip files as described in the README.TXT above. As
you can run the stand-alone programs by unzipping
the PRG.ZIP without
folders onto a disk and running them from there.
Be sure to read the instructions
on the README.TXT for the rest of the material.
- Algorithmic Package
Uses the algorithmic
blues program. Example of raw output.
Uses the Bifurkation
Light Graphic Wave algorithmic player. Example
of raw output.