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Produced by Chris Chahley and Ted Quinlan;
Directed by Paul Sutherland
Viable Video Productions, 1992. pre-release version,
VHS cassette, 26 min., $99.00.
Distributed by Magic Lantern Communications

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Frances Daw Bergles

Volume 22 Number 3
1994 May / June

Hosted by Canada's jazz great, Oscar Peterson,  The El ectr onic Musician discusses; the relationship between music and technology, from the player piano and the l906 synth esizer of enormous proportions to the l992 digital recording and playback system known as Multisound, which fits on a computer card weighing 8 ounces.

Peterson introduces us to the most important recent electronic development, MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), which he uses to compose, arrange, print and record music. MIDI is a computer language that allows instruments to communicate with each other and with the computer. A revolutionary development, MIDI is capable of producing an unlimited variety of sounds, both traditional and totally new, and has eliminated the tedi us work of transposing and writing music. MIDI keyboards can produce the sounds of several instruments or can be divided, with different instrumental sounds emanating from the top and bottom portions of the keyboard. Peterson demonstrates how he records, edits and prints music with the use of a MIDI keyboard, a Macintosh computer and a Proforce sequencer.

Most of the discussion will be beyond all but the most sophisticated computer users but, especially for those familiar with Macs, some of it will be comprehensible and stimulating. An engaging sequence shows Peterson changing notes on the computer scre en by clicking on and dra gging a da sh representing a note, changing it fro m A flat C.

The section on printing music, which uses computer scoring program called Encore, is also fascinating. We watch as music is written on the screen, first by dragging appropriate notes from the palette or toolbox onto the staff and, secondly, by playing the music directly to the computer from the MIDI keyboard. Watching the notes bounce on the screen is reminiscent of the bouncing balls m usic films of the 1940s and 1950s. Once on the screen, the music is easily printed. The final sequence is of Peterson and other musicians recording the piece just printed.

Useful for both music and computer classes.

Frances Daw Bergles is a librarian at the Medel Art Gallery and Conservatory in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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