[Tim's Atari MIDI World banner]

Algorithmic Jewels


[Screen-shot: MIDI Planetarium]

Not long ago I was searching the internet for more Atari MIDI 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: = two Programs using the planetary frequencies by Hans Cousto. See also = 13 Programs from the Book "MIDI-Experiments" (out of print). Put the content of this file together with the content of into one directory "Midiexp". The File contains the text of the Chapter, in which all the programs are described. Then unzip the files "" into directory "bas" and "" 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 fractal work-station is for a color-monitor. But there is also a version for the ordinary Atari monitor.

All programs are completely freeware!

Wolfgang Martin Stroh

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:

Double-click 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. Experimentation 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 go to:

Brain and Body 

1. Kaskasdenkadem: keyboard-kaskaden
When the program loads start playing the QWERTY keyboard! Each row of the QWERTY represents a different MIDI channel, sound and effect. Very unique

![Screen-shot: MIDI Typing] 

2. MIDI Draw
An alternate mouse 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 experiment.

 [Screen-shot: MIDI Record]

4. Zufail-Atmend
An algorithmic player with a graphic interface.

5. Zufail Keyboard Ambitus
Another algorithmic player: no graphics but fantastic sound.

6. Tendenzieller Kpkt (Schnell)
An algorithmic player with beam graphics. Two channels and tracks. Completely generative melodies and counterpoint lines.

 [Screen-shot: Tendenzieller Kpkt]

7. Tendenzieller Kpkt (Langsam)
Same as above but at a slower tempo.

8. Algorithmic Komposition (Algorithmic Blues)
A very cool and abstract program with bass, melody and drum patterns displayed on a graphic bar.

 [Screen-shot: Algorithmic Blues]

9. Bifurkation Light
Graphic wave algorithmic player. See top screenshot. The wave is drawn as the music plays.

10. Keplers Harmonic Mundi
Uses parameters 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 editor.

 [Screen-shot: Keplers Harmonic Mundi]

MIDI Experiments 

This set of programs is represented as stand-alone programs or you can load them from the editor.


Three algorithmic players with different variation. ALGKOMP2 uses graphic circles that points bounce off to create the sequence and then you can play it. An interesting combination.

 [Screen-shot: ALGKOMP2]

2. DATA_ANA: a MIDI analyser
You can play your MIDI keyboard and see the system exclusive messages it gives out for further analysis.

3. DRAW_PRG: 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 player
My first impression is a "Gentle Giant" style maker!

Another MIDI 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.

7. Microtun: Another 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 MUL_TAS1
Two program with variations. A loop and mouse play instrument. Just put in a MIDI channel.

Loop players and recorders. I was not able to get these to work. Could be my set-up.

Algorithmic player 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 the output.

 [Screen-shot: TON_PKTE]


MIDI Planetarium
Two programs using the planetary frequencies by Hans Cousto. They are stand-alone programs. Check out the MIDI Planetarium page on the links section.

Fractal Workstation
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 Atari monitor.

Working with 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 mentioned, 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.
    Demonstration of ALGKOMP2.
    Uses the  Bifurkation Light Graphic Wave algorithmic player. Example of raw output.

Useful links


Top of page ]

MyAtari magazine - Feature #10, August 2002

Copyright 2002 MyAtari magazine