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pixelpedant

TI Composer - A fun little T40XB TI-99 text-to-speech synth song builder/editor/player

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I’m back at it playing with TI-99 speech synth, but this time, I’ve approached it from another angle.  Instead of trying to build synth songs mostly manually with various tools I’ve cobbled together messily over time, I’ve now instead tried to do the opposite - put together a single tool for building/editing/playing synth songs on the TI-99 itself, which does everything out of a really straightforward interface.  It’s still cobbled together messily, but the result is pretty easy to start up and use right away, at least.  

 

COMPOSER.DSK

 

This is analogous to the TI Sings tools from TRIO+ software, but different in intent and design, in that it’s meant to be a simple, straightforward all-in-one interface for synth musical composition and play which pretty much explains itself and requires no external composition tools or documentation.  It’s mainly been tested on real iron, but it seems to work alright under MAME as well.  The text-to-speech routines, in my experience, do not behave themselves reliably under any other emulation environments.  But this should work, for example,

 

mame64.exe ti99_4a -cart exbasic -ioport peb -ioport:peb:slot2 32kmem -ioport:peb:slot3 speech -ioport:peb:slot8 tifdc -flop1 "\LOCATION_OF_DISK\COMPOSER.DSK"

 

It requires 32K and XB, naturally.  It assumes that it will be in DSK1.  It contains embedded assembly subroutines, and so cannot be RESed, MERGEd or copied as text, but can be modified in place.  

 

It looks like this, in use:

 

XbvPlglyvBLcpmcUYvyfbTgEWRva8odnrdgttOgR_gpfbEtmMS2hWqoA2WIB5v5setRMvn6NtT_CaTkqP7N9MjtzYwdVdiSBOENkHRR-1xjFykJMsn7LoN4dCm5edzNpgmKktPVm

 

I explain more about it (and demonstrate it) here:

 

 

But the gist is, it uses a 36 semitone range selected from among the 63 detuned pitches available to the synthesizer, with each text column signifying (and selecting) a given semitone.  Notes are thus not perfectly in tune, but are the most proximate frequency to each musical frequency listed. It allows for creation and playback of synth samples for song construction on the fly using (ESDX) direction keys, with entered text being fed to the text-to-speech routines.  

 

This is running via T40XB for the sake of those extra columns, which made 36 columns possible.  That also provides for upward window scrolling.  It’s loading the text-to-speech subroutines as well, so load time is fairly egregious (mainly thanks to SPEAK).

 

It’s fairly intuitive, so you can just play around with it if so inclined, and it should explain itself well enough.  Though note that a few commands are not listed on the main screen.  These can be viewed on the Fn+7 (AID) screen and the most important of them is Fn+P which will compile the song data (including pitch and contour) to a single string for playback.  Which will allow for fluid play, but limit song length to the size of a single string (which still works for other than very long songs).

 

tvfr4dDteInqG7u_dmdhs3z9aCbfsenFnBZTxxpvV7gFv0cIXJyDwp_Xx48nV7-9PwLfHN0L1reLLpYTO9oIC4HmORd17gcK0NiuvwHS7awEwmQvhyZtbmgh-A5E-KYFJ5NG6FXR

 

Since text patterns entered via the F option are fed to the XLAT routine, symbols supported by that routine are naturally supported here.  

 

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Here, incidentally, is the TI Sings disk from TRIO+ Software (or one version of it, anyway), in case anyone here doesn't have that, and wants to experiment with its (fairly rich given the means at hand) tools for song building, or listen to its sample songs on real iron. These do expect and require the Terminal Emulator II cart. 

 

TISINGS2.DSK

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It looks very user friendly and fun, I will use this for a musical project in the future.  

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