MS² - MoonSound Music Studio
Ever since the MoonSound was released in 1994, there's really been only one way to make music for it and that's MoonBlaster for MoonSound, a duo of related programs (MBFM and MBWAVE) that both target a different aspect of the MoonSound. Due to this split, technical limitations of MoonBlaster and the not taking into account of sound effects for games, the MoonSound never really got used optimally in MSX productions.
With MoonSound Music Studio (MS² for short) The New Image is developing a product that can take full advantage of the MoonSound. Even though it was started as a merger of MBFM and MBWAVE into one program, which by itself was attractive, the demands got much bigger. Step by step, every limitation and every base system of MoonBlaster got taken care of in order to forge an as powerful and dynamic as possible whole. In principle MS² therefore is an evolution of MoonBlaster, although by now few pieces of the original source code are left. The system requirements are slightly higher; MSX-DOS2 and at least a 256K Memory Mapper are required.
At first sight MS² looks to be a regular MSX tracker, but the underlying technology is based on MML (Music Macro Language). Because a lot of people find composing in MML (known from the MSX-BASIC PLAY command) difficult, MS² offers a tracker interface for this technology and that way combines the best of both worlds. This combination gives MS² huge flexibility and eg. the possibility to execute multiple commands per step.
That flexibility is also prevalent in other areas. Like, the number of channels can be set and for each channel the type (eg. FM or Wave) can be chosen. Similar freedom exists for choosing and creating instruments, the number of which is decided upon by the composer, and for Wave instruments complete drum kits can be designed. Moreover, it's very simple to edit existing instruments.
A lot of attention was given to ease of use, such as the initial settings for a composition which are all combined into one clear screen. The manual input of notes is vastly improved and flat notes can be used easily. For MIDI support thought is being put in supporting both playback and real-time recording.
Musically speaking there's support for different temperaments, which makes it possible to compose music using eg. ancient tunings or non-western music. One of the other leading elements is being able to easily use music and sound effects in your self-written programs.
If you are interested in keeping up to date on the development, or want to simply support it, you can join the private beta test by making a donation of at least 15 Euro on account BIC:INGBNL2A, IBAN:NL42INGB0006268083 of Patriek Lesparre in Almere, The Netherlands. Don't forget to indicate your e-mail address! If you prefer to use Paypal, donate to paypal (at) tni.nl (please take Paypal fees and currency conversions into account). You will receive the latest beta versions and can give your input on the development of the program. The final product will probably cost 25 Euro (free for beta testers) and might become bundled with new MoonSounds by Sunrise.
30 June 2011 - Observant readers will have noticed MoonSound Music Studio (MS²) listed on our Projects page. Today TNI officially announces it as a product. However, it's still in development and no release date is set.
Those interested in the development of MS², or simply wanting to support its development, can take part in our new sponsorship program. This program enables MSX users to receive beta versions of unreleased products in exchange for a donation. Sponsors can also influence the development of these products by stating their wishes and ideas, which will then be taken into serious consideration.
More information about the sponsorship for MoonSound Music Studio can be found on its product page.