The Hots for the
reviews a unique software and MIDI controller
made by Atari itself!
In the late
1980s a certain Jimmy Hotz (pronounced,
"hots") was making the rounds
in the music industry by introducing musicians
to the wonders of MIDI, and in particular
Atari computers. Fleetwood Mac, members
of Yes and Tangerine Dream as well as BB
King and the Pointer Sisters were just a
few of his clients. However, he had an idea
in his head that evolved into what is now
called Translator Technology. From this
initial idea came software and also a special
hardware controller called the Hotz Box
which ran in tandem with the software. Tom
Bajoras (then a Hybrid Arts programmer)
did the actual coding, while the concept,
scale creations and programming was done
by Jimmy Hotz.
the Hotz Corporation was formed and is presently
called Accordance Music Systems, in which
the Translator Technology is continuing
to evolve (see the links section).
The concept is you can layer the keyboard
into zones. One zone controls chords that
you can assign to any key in the "lower"
part of the keyboard. So all you have to
do is use one finger to trigger the chord.
Normally on the Hotz Box, this would be
a pad you trigger.
zone is for scales, of which you have 128
to choose from. Whatever chords you trigger
in the lower keyboard, you will be in perfect
tune to it when playing the upper part.
So you could literally play like a virtuoso.
You could play a pattern in the upper part,
switch chords on the lower and the pattern
is transposed to the same key as the chord.
You could call it an "expert system"
as Laurie Spiegel would say. You can basically
play in any key just by changing your chord.
It takes a bit of re-thinking on what you
are playing. However, the results can be
I also use
the Translator to process the "left
hand" applications. For example, running
Music Mouse, M or Tunesmith through it for
some interesting results. With Music Mouse,
it gives me 128 more scales to play the
mouse with instead of the 8 or so scales
within Music Mouse itself.
Atari manufactured a special MIDI controller
which worked in tandem with the Hotz MIDI
translator software. You can see the keys
are flat membrane pads in the photo above.
One has a "regular" piano keyboard
layout with other pads going horizontally
and vertically. The side set of pads are
usually used to trigger chords which in
turn the other horizontal layouts are used
to generate scales in tune with the chords.
These areas are called "zones"
which can be represented on a piano-style
MIDI controller as well.
nature of the controller with no moving
parts you can perform lightning fast movements
that would be near-impossible on a regular
keyboard. The unit is extremely fast, with
10 parallel processors collecting and merging
the data that you are playing on the keyboard.
Having been given the opportunity to try
it out myself, I have found the Hotz Box
very satisfying to my playing style. You
do not need to hammer the keys but can press
very lightly as it is still very touch sensitive.
I also find it easy to play percussively,
as they feel like drum machine pads as well,
and can also be used to play percussion
voices very effectively. It is also easy
to accomplish strumming techniques. When
used with an acoustic guitar or dulcimer
sound, the strumming effect can be very
realistic. Using a sustain pedal together
with the strumming technique can create
beautiful effects that have to be heard
to be appreciated.