Morton Subotnick’s Making Music
Another music program, Morton Subotnick’s Making Music (The Voyager Co. – ages 5-10) uses an interface very similar to that of MacPaint and other drawing tools, except that instead of creating visual art, it creates music. Mr. Subotnick has invented this, he tells us, because art forms like drawing and writing can be undertaken at all skill levels – read, by beginners – while music, conventionally, is reserved for the skilled and the trained. Now kids who can’t play a note can sit down with this MacPaint-type pallet and scribble lines that happen to correspond to sounds. The result, unfortunately, is often akin to a kid sitting down at a piano and banging meaninglessly on the keyboard. The visual congruity between color, height and length (on a grid), and pitch and duration is a good idea, but the program lacks devices that would enable it to create real music; it’s nearly impossible to put together something cohesive with this tool, let alone something pleasing to the ear. In addition to the Melody and Rhythm makers the disc offers activities like The Building Blocks (recombine beginnings, middles, and ends from various songs), the Flip Book (browse short musical clips), and four simple Games. The normal handicaps of computer music programs are all in place – tinny sound, no tactile interaction with your instrument – so the “groundbreaking” interface would be the thing that would carry this disc, if anything would. The truth is that Music Maker might entertain for an hour or so, but after that it quickly runs dry.
– March 1996