Update: 31st January 2012, 16:55 UT


Parametric Polyphonic Music Generator

by Peter Wakefield Sault


Click here to download odeionexe.zip

Both ODEION.EXE and ODEIONPC.EXE will run only under true DOS 6.22 on an IBM-PC compatible computer which must have either a DOS-formatted Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or a diskette drive which will accept DOS-formatted diskettes. The computer must be booted directly into DOS 6.22 as the programs will run neither in a "DOS window" nor from a Windows "Command prompt" and no attempt should be made to do either*.

ODEION.EXE requires the computer to have a genuine Roland MPU-401 MIDI interface card, or 100% compatible device (such as MusicQuest), installed and communicating with an external synthesizer module via the MPU-401's MIDI OUT port. No additional driver software is needed for this. The program will address neither SoundBlaster soundcards nor their imitators as they are not MPU-401 compatible. The program requires the additional files ODEION.COL (colour scheme) and ODEION.SCA (musical scale definitions) to reside in the same directory. In addition a selection of parameter files (*.ODE) are included in the zipfile. The program is password-protected: hold down the Alt key and type the word atlantis but do not press the Enter key. Currently there is no helpfile available for this program so please e-mail questions to info AT odeion.org. Hints: The Alt, Ctrl and Shift keys toggle the list of function keys at the bottom of the screen. All other valid keystrokes are always shown immediately above that list. It is possible to run ODEION.EXE 'mute', without an MPU-401, and to save generated music as Type 1 MIDI files (.mid) and/or ODEION.EXE music files (.mus). MIDI files may then be played back and edited in graphics-windowed software. However, it would be impossibly laborious to try to compose parameter files (.ode) in this manner. It is suggested that only pre-composed parameter files, such as those tabled below, be used in this way. ODEION.EXE music files (.mus) contain considerably more metadata than MIDI files (.mid) and represent notes as octaves + pitch offsets from a specified tonic note, itself denoted the same way relative to the note C0 (i.e. MIDI note #0), which is the lowest note that ODEION.EXE will allow. The formats, however, are specific to ODEION.EXE and are not readable by any other application. In combination with an MPU-401 and an external synthesizer, ODEION.EXE can be placed on generative auto-loop and will transmit an endlessly non-repeating and seamless MIDI datastream to the synth.

Antispam note: To defeat address harvesting webcrawlers employed by spammers, textual e-mail addresses on ODEION.ORG are written with AT in place of the symbol '@' and there are no "mail to:" links. Replace AT with the correct symbol to get a valid address. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience. - PWS

ODEIONPC.EXE requires neither MPU-401 nor any additional files. The program utilizes the PC speaker to play monophonic melodies in true just intonation (aka 'pythagorean tuning') and true automatic dynamic retuning mode (which enables modulation to any key whilst retaining true just intonation in each). It is still not possible to do this with a synthesizer (i.e. via ODEION.EXE) as not a single one manufactured today is vibration number addressable, all being pitch number addressable and retunable only using the ludicrously complicated and hopelessly imprecise method of 'cents +/-'. The program comes with a helpfile, ODEIONPC.TXT, which describes a sample session.

COPYRIGHT in music generated by ODEION.EXE and ODEIONPC.EXE belongs solely to the programmer, Peter Wakefield Sault, and all rights are reserved. The programmer wishes to encourage experimentation with parameters and anyone may do this freely for NON-COMMERCIAL purposes. Should you wish to share the results of your experiments, please do so and/or send them to me and I will add them to the table below, along with your name (and e-mail address if you so wish). Commercial use of material directly, indirectly or originally generated by ODEION.EXE or ODEIONPC.EXE requires the prior express written permission of the programmer.

ODEION.EXE Parameter Files
File(s) Contributor

Currently playing: FANTASY2.MID

* Both ODEION.EXE and ODEIONPC.EXE directly reprogram the PC's system timer chip. This may interfere with the normal functioning of high-level graphics windowing software and may crash any system upon which it is attempted, possibly with catastrophic results. Some versions of windowing software may contain some protection against such reprogramming. This means, however, that neither program will function properly. Reprogramming the system timer chip is a perfectly legal activity within DOS and this is the only acceptable environment for the programs. There is absolutely no risk whatever to PCs running under DOS 6.22.

Copyright Peter Wakefield Sault 1990-2012
All rights reserved worldwide