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Kristen Roos - Universal Synthesizer Interface Vol. II (Limited) LP



In 2019, Vancouver artist Kristen Roos came across a floppy disk for sale on eBay containing the Commodore Amiga version of Laurie Spiegel's 'Music Mouse'. This was one of the first intelligent instruments for personal computers, created by Spiegel in 1985 as an interactive and playable MIDI sequencer for the 68k era of Macintosh computers. Curious, he bid on the item and ended up winning it for a few dollars. Upon investigation, the simple and intuitive nature of its interface appealed to him, especially in comparison to the dense ‘menus within menus’ design of contemporary DAWs, and he soon began to seek out other programs from this ‘first wave’ of music software development.

The result of over a year of study, experimentation, and creation (often involving direct correspondence with the software creators themselves), 'Universal Synthesizer Interface' is Roos’s homage to this early era of algorithmic music making.

Vol II sees Roos narrowing his focus down to two of his personal favorites: Laurie Spiegel’s 'Music Mouse' and Frank Balde’s 'Diablo.' One of the first ‘intelligent instruments’ ever created for the personal computer, Speigel’s 'Music Mouse' was, for many people in the 1980s, a remarkably intuitive introduction to the world of MIDI sequencing. Mouse position controls the placement and parameters of MIDI data, allowing the user to quickly select and alter the scale, chord voicing and volume of their work on the fly. The keyboard is used as a control panel, with various shortcuts outlined on a digital ‘cheat sheet’ provided with the software.

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