Monday, May 27, 2013

Sequential Circuits Inc. Musicware "For the Working Musician" ad, Keyboard 1984

Sequential Circuits Inc. Musicware software including the Model 964 MIDI Sequencer, Model 910 Three Part Expansion Software for the Six-Trak Synthesizer, Model 931 Recorder/Editor/Composer, Model 932 Scorewriter and Model 933 Album Series "For the Working Musician" full-page colour advertisement from page 9 in the October 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

I gotta say, I'm becoming more and more intrigued with retro music software. It's amazing how MIDI was catching on. By the end of 1984 many of the big manufacturers seemed to be offering some type of MIDI hardware and software to go with their synths.

In the October 1984 issue alone, Korg was promoting their Poly-800 alongside the KMS-30 MIDI/sync box and their own 4 Track Sequencer and Music Scoring programs, and Siel ads for the DK/EX600 synthesizer also included ad-copy for their own MIDI computer interface.

New companies specializing in software development were also popping up. The October issue included a full-page ad from a company called MusicData, promoting the fact that they were "the first-ever all-music software company", creating synth patches, drum programs and computer programs. And one of my early favorites, Dr. T's Music Software, was also already appearing in Keyboard, peppered amongst the other small 1/12th-page black and white ads pushing things like piano-tuning training packages and vocal-removal boxes. It was the wild west of Keyboard Magazine.

SCI was not only one of the first companies to get into the MIDI synth game with their Prophet 600 synthesizer, but they also got into the MIDI hardware/software peripheral game as well. Starting with their Model 64 sequencer that began appearing less that a year previously in the magazine, their line of MIDI hardware and software had quickly expanded to also include their Model 242 MIDI interface as well as their exciting new line of productivity software.

This new line of software initially included Five packages that appeared in this very rare "For the Working Musician" MusicWare advertisement:
  • Model 964 MIDI Sequencer featuring 8 tracks and 4000 note memory
  • Model 910 Three Part Expansion Software for the Six-Trak Synthesizer featuring programming, program storage and keyboard splitting
  • Model 931 Recorder/Editor/Composer - sequencing package for use with the Six-Trak and Max synthesizer
  • Model 932 Scorewriter - allow a composer to create and print out scores
  • Model 933 Album Series - MIDI songs (one package featured Christmas carols) that could be played back on the Six-Trak and Max synthesizers
Out of all of these packages, the one that intrigues me most is the Model 910 Expansion software for the Six-Trak. For one reason, and one reason only:

GAH!!! Look at that image from the ad! It's an early visual programming interface! From 1984! Would make a cute VST.  :)

SCI's first MIDI synth, the Prophet 600, had all it's programming available on the front panel. But not the Six-Trak - it was programmed through a control interface that included just one parameter button and one value knob. For that reason alone, if you owned a Six-Trak, this program would have been the best $99 you could have spent in 1984. Especially if this was your first synthesizer. And for many, it would have been.

If I was 1/10th more ass-crazy than I currently am, I'd get that tatoo'd across my back. Luckily I'm not.

One of the other reasons I like this advertisement is that it includes the first mention of Sequential's new MAX synthesizer. It would be another month before it would be introduced in Keyboard through the magazine's keyboard give-away contest, and another month before a proper MAX advertisement would pop up in the magazine. If the Internet had been around in 1984, SCI fan boys would have been going crazy on the forums if they had seen this mentioned before an ad-launch.

Oooooh... the good old days before the fast-paced digital online world took over.  When new analog synthesizers were introduced almost monthly... er... oh, wait... MS20 Mini, Minibrute, Elektron Analog Four, Moog Minitaur, Waldorf Pulse 2, Dave Smith Mopho/Tetra/Prophet08/Tempest...

Bah - nevermind.

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