Back to: Marshal's Software page Marshal's Career page Marshal's Home page

MusicBox (Topologika)


See MusicBox on the Topologika web site Includes demo.

Read the TEEM review
Read Chris Drage's review
Read Alan Bennet's review
There's an interesting short account of the use of MusicBox with an autistic child on the Autism Coach webside. You can read a comparison between Music Box 2 and Music Explorer on the Sir Robert Hitcham's Primary School website where you can also listen to samples of pupils' compositions.

Music was always a real bind to teach at primary level (not that I'm suggesting it's any easier at secondary). The point was that you had to be, at least to some extent, talented to teach it: I'm not. There had to be a way you could treat music the same way the computer made writing and drawing so much more accessible. To put you in a safe environment where you could experiment with sounds, rhythms and patterns of notes without needing a whole background of technical knowledge. MusicBox (what is it with compound words that have capital letters half way through?) provides four areas to play in.

Sound Box

Sound box (above) let you doodle about with instruments on a button grid, playing in real time and recording and playing back your work. Chord Box presents an area where you can mess about with the way chords are constructed. Beat Box uses a simple system for organising percussion sounds into rhythms that can be quite complex. And, finally, Tune Box (below) presents a simple representation of treble stave on which you can compose your own music.

Tune Box

All this requires no musical knowledge to start with, but introduces some of the basic concepts behind notation and composition. What's really important is, 'Does it sound good?' I should point out that I knew from the start that MusicBox would be well beyond my programming ability, and Andrew Hersee did a brilliant job of the coding - as well as polishing up my feeble attempts at icon design. William Godfrey took on the task of producing the PC version - and did jolly well. MusicBox won the Educational Computing Gold Award for Primary software in 1995 and my little self was all puffed up with pride - unfortunately it was presented by Gillian Shephard, oh well........

The latest version (as of 2007 - screen shots from that) is basically the same package, but with the addition of over 200 stereo instruments. It still hits Topologika's monthly top ten and features regularly in the Tesco Computers For Schools thing. Hoorah!

[Previous page]