The Triadex Muse...
Review from Studio Sound September 1972
|The Muse, says the manufacturers blurb, is a computer. It
composes and plays music, instantly. Limitlessly. The Muse is the
invention of two MIT professors that harness the most advanced computer
technology for the purpose of putting notes together in interesting ways.
In other words, of creating musical compositions. There are more than 14
trillion potential note combinations inside the Muse. That's what makes it
so intriguing. It's almost impossible to exhaust its potential. Unquote.
Unlike the electronic music synthesisers previously discussed in these
pages, the Muse can be switched on and played without any initial study of
the working principles. Try that on a VC synthesiser and the ensuing
silence refers you back to the instruction book.
This unit synthesises music as distinct from sound. The output is a
rectangular wave, variable in pitch and rate of pitch step but fixed in
tone. It composes a melody line which is governed in complexity by
the settings of eight 40-position switches and simultaneously presents it
at a volume, tempo and basic pitch governed by four linear slide controls.
No musical knowledge is required of the operator: the Muse justifies its
existance in allowing totally non-musical people to compose concordant and
Occupying the table space of a small typewriter, the Muse presents a
sloping fascia, silver-finished with blue and grey calibrations and black
controls. An internal loudspeaker is mounted to the top left. Below this
is a power on/off and 'start' control. At any stage in one's
musings, pressing 'start' reverts a performance to its beginning. Right of
this switch are the volume, tempo, pitch and fine pitch sliders, plus a
second three position switch labeled 'auto/hold/step'. In the 'auto' state
a composition proceeds at a rate dependant on the tempo setting. At 'hold'
the performance is frozen on whichever note has been reached. Pressing
'step' produces one pulse - one more step along the melody line - followed
by another pulse when the control is returned to its rest position at
|Picture of 'Interval' and 'Theme' section
||Picture of 'Volume' and Tempo' section
|The eight switches governing the initial structure and
proceeding development of the Muse compositions can be seen in the photo.
To the right are the two strips of light emitting diodes, one above the
other. Eight LEDs occupy the the column from calibration 'on' down to C6.
These show the through blue Perspex. Below these, adjacent to B1...31 are
a further 31 LEDs behind green. The visible size of each LED is about 5
wide x 4mm with 11/2mm vertical spacing.
The eight switches are grouped into four 'interval' and four 'theme'
controls, the former governing pitch and the latter basically controlling
the the duration of each note. With all eight controls at 'off' the Muse
will produce a constant tone, for our purposes the doh. All eight
are in an off plane in that none is in the 'on' plane of an illuminated
diode. With the 'auto/hold/step' control at 'hold' and the 'off/on'/start'
pressed to 'start', only two diodes are illuminated - those against
calibration 'on' and 'C1/2'. And we're getting very tired of this doh.
So we push the farthest left interval switch one step downward to
'on'. Immediately the doh rises a second to re. Push it a
further step down and, at C1/2 (nothing to do with a musical C) it remains
at re. Switching from 'hold' to 'auto', the C1/2 diode now flashes
on and of at a speed determined by the tempo slider. The switch at C1/2 is
thus oscillating from on to off state producing a continuous doh re
Triadex have chosen to label the four Interval switches A B, C, and D
from left to right respectively - again nothing to do with alphabetical
musical notation. Switch A gave us re. Switch B standing alone in
an 'on' plane produces a third above doh. In the plane of a
flashing diode, therefore, we obtain a doh mi cycle. Switch C given
the same treatment produces a fifth interval, doh, so, while switch
D produces a full octave rise: doh, doh1. The base doh can
be silenced by pushing a separate switch (bottom right) from 'normal' to
'rest'. Instead of , for example, doh so doh so, we would have rest
so rest so.