All the cold weather’s frozen the swamp down at the motel and JON BATES is saddened that he can no longer watch the cars bubble and pop their way under it. Still it hasn’t affected his activities at the motel, the showers are running freely and no doubt the guests will be too...

IAN WEBSTER has a tip for all RAM Music Machine users. He can load individual sounds created on his own A1 sampler into the Music Machine. Working with a Microdrive he reckons that sample data from any machine can be reloaded into the Music Machine. The method goes like this... Load and run the Music Machine, then delete all the sample data. Enter the sample page and give it a name for a new sample. Manually trigger the sampler without a signal present at the input. This will have the effect of filling the memory space with nothing! Quit the sample page and return to BASIC via the main menu. Load from the Microdrive your previously saved sample data, and to be on the safe side load it to 47000, making sure that the data doesn’t exceed the amount of free memory. Re-enter Music Machine by a GOTO 30 command and enter the Edit page. You should now see your new data implanted into the previously blank sample. Trim the front and back and Ian reckons you should have a sample in there.


AK Battock is one of several guests who has left behind complaints about the Z codes and the complexity of understanding MIDI from the user manual of whatever instrument you happen to be using. Well, first of all you can play up to eight voices simultaneously from the MIDI out on the Spectrum +2, provided of course that the instrument that you have hooked up to is capable of doing so in the first place. You pick the channel you want to use by including the letter Y followed by the channel number. The Z prefix indicates that what follows is a MIDI decimal code. As some of the codes are several decimal numbers, prefix each one by the Z code. If you want a fuller understanding of MIDI codes and how they work there is a veritable industry of literature that has been issued on this subject — libraries are often good sources. To be honest, the majority of books on the subject are all pretty good at explaining the basics. The codes can be a source of merriment, though, as sometimes they are quoted in hex and sometimes in decimal. Borrow a conversion table or scientific calculator.

‘Sample data from any machine can be loaded into MM

You also ask about controlling the percussion set. With a bit of luck, the percussion department on your keyboard will be preset on a MIDI channel and each drum will have a particular note number assigned to it. No Z codes required. You mention that you have Tandy MIDI cables. Whilst they are OKish, I have found that when mother and myself hook up all our gear, the aforementioned brand of cables are not the best conductors of MIDI data. I reckon that there is too much resistence in the wire, and that they’re really just good old-fashioned five pin audio leads brought out of hibernation for a new lease of life and some outlandish profits. It’s definitely Cabin One for them when they check in!

‘You can play up to eight voices simultaneously’


Another beginner on the MIDI stakes is Martin Wheeler who has an XRI interface plus sequencing and Casio editing software. He has the unfortunate problem of either or both programs locking up. Long distance diagnosis is not our forte, but it could be that your MIDI cables are running too close to the monitor and scrambling the data due to the magnetic field surrounding the cathode ray tube. On the other hand I seem to recall that the really early editions of the XRI Casio editing software had hiccups that were sorted out quite quickly. Maybe the interface itself is second-hand and is having premature senility. It is unlikely that it is due to your lack of knowledge about MIDI programming that this is occurring. In short, try to eliminate all possibilities; swap Speccies with a mate, rearrange the cable layout, see if you can borrow some XRI software and maybe another interface until the cause manifests itself. If it is your software then contact XRI.

‘Maybe the interface is having premature senility’

Well, that’s just about it for this month. Till next month, watch out for shadows on the shower curtains...