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Symbolic Composer - Analog Music

July 1998 By Cherise O'Neill.

Science fiction writers have for the past several decades written about the day when machines become capable of taking on such menial tasks as doing household chores, walking the dog or composing music. Well the latter is now finally a reality. The software is called Symbolic Composer and it runs on a machine called Mac (not Robbie).

We recieved a copy of version 4.0 on CD ROM to review and were soon using macro menus and pondering over the meaning of things called generators capable of handling fractals, chaos, fibonacci series, neural networks and many more. Finally we hit the compile button and hey presto, instant music.

Symbolic Composer is, in a nutshell, the most powerful music programming language available. It lets you program music in any style and complexity and like learning a new instrument is intuitive and easy to use. You'll soon you be programming multi-instrument pieces with full control of every musical and MIDI parameter. Use Symbolic Composer to produce everything from symphonies to jingles or use the tools suitable for ambient and dance music. There are 500 of these tools available to you and will allow you transpose, retrograde, invert, mix, analyze, convert, ornament, filter, shift, scroll, and morph - just to mention a few.

Apply them to melodies, chords, rhythms, durations, velocities, channels & program changes, controllers and tempos to literally create new music from scratch. The CD-ROM also includes extra scores, testers, tutorial material and programming examples and gives you access to all the scales, chords and tunings found in western music. it is also one of the few composition systems that you can truly customize and extend with plug-ins. Symbolic Composer is also invaluable for writing music for human performers or scoring complex electroacoustics.

Symbolic Composer runs on all Mac computers providing a minimum of 8 Mbytes of RAM and a hard disk are present. 68K and PowerMac-native versions are available. It is also a stand-alone MIDI application with high-resolution MIDI playback, and it can also pass the MIDI files to any industry-standard sequencer.