Winner Editors' Choice, Electronic Musician 1996

When I assigned EM Technical Editor Scott Wilkinson to evaluate World Music Menu, I knew the program would be put to the acid test. After all, he is widely known for his expertise in microtuning and historic temperaments, and WMM is aimed directly at those who want to play with alternative scales. After extensive testing, Wilkinson concluded that not only did his music benefit from the program's features, but he was having a ton o' fun!

WMM retunes supported synths to any of 121 scales from such far-flung locales as Greece, India, Bali, Asia, and the Middle East. Using it is a breeze: just select a 7-note or 5-note scale from the Scales menu, and the program sends the necessary SysEx data to the synth. (You can't program your own scales, but that feature will be added in a future version.)

That's all you need to get started, though it's not all WMM can do. For example, you can easily transpose the new scale by semitones or by scale intervals. A very nifty feature lets you create a Stack of up to 24 scales, which you can step through with the Page Up/Down keys on the computer keyboard. When you're ready to return to Equal Temperament, a menu selection or keyboard equivalent instantly resets your instrument.

The list of supported instruments is small because they are the only synths that support the MIDI Tuning Standard. You're in good shape if you have a Kurzweil K150 or K2000/K2500; any E-mu Proteus; or Yamaha's DX7II, TX81Z, SY/TG77, SY/TG99, or VLI. The Turtle Beach MultiSound is supported, too. Whether your music requires a scale other than Equal Temperament or you just want to explore, this unusual program makes it not only possible, but thoroughly enjoyable.

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