Amdek CMU-800 CompuMusic

After having used – and loved – the Roland MC-4B Microcomposer for quite a few years, I was looking for something similar, but with better editing facilities and file system. The arcane cassette interface for the MC-4B was slow and unreliable unless you had the dedicated hardware cassette unit, which was quite expensive. So when the Roland subdivision Amdek put out the CMU-800 for the Apple IIe it seems that it had the right combination of features and convenience. I already owned the Apple IIe and used it for various tasks.

The benefits were instant and huge. From the tiny display on the MC-4B you suddenly could see and edit a long string of musical notes on the computer screen. You had to observe the 96PPQ subdivision (1 bar = 96 ticks) in order to stay in 4/4, but otherwise you could become really quick at inputting music with some exercise. Once you had defined a musical pattern it could be copied, transposed, reversed and transformed in various ways. Insert and delete was also possible, and the display informed you about the bar number.

Your sequence creations could be saved to the floopy drive of the Apple II and recalled at will, which was also a huge benefit. A quick power surge could wipe the MC-4Bs memory in a split second and destroy hours of work, so the save feature was really handy.

The Amdex even featured built in sounds – a monophonic bass voice, a monophonic lead voice, a polyphonic (3 voice) chord voice and even a drum voice with basic analog sounds not unlike the venerable Roland CR-78. The sounds could not be edited, apart for a decay parameter, but they could serve as sound generators for my Roland System-100M modular system that the Amdek was primarily used for.

Stay tuned for some tracks made with this unit.


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