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What about the M.A.M. software?

When, in 1986, I started planning version two of the M.A.M. software (the first version to support MIDI input and editing), I entertained the idea of releasing it as a commercial product. To this end, I designed the program to use off-the-shelf hardware, added a built-in help system, and wrote a few dozen pages of documentation.

1988: the first robust M.A.M. software

In 1988, the first version of the M.A.M. sequencer/editor/player was complete, and I took it with me on an extended visit to Los Angeles, where I hoped to find people who might be interested in it. There, I met David McCutchen, an artist, animator, music visualizer, and technological entrepreneur. He had done music animations very similar to mine (though much more complex and artistic), and therefore appreciated what I was doing, and believed that it might have commercial potential. David's idea was that we would contract to produce music videos for record companies (since they owned the copyrights to the material we wanted to use as soundtracks).

To assist David in demonstrating the M.A.M., I bought a device that allowed the program's output to be recorded onto videotape, and recorded sample pieces. David spent a year or two using his industry contacts in Hollywood trying to find interested parties. During this time, I kept the M.A.M. software under my hat -- if we were to make money by using the software as a proprietary tool, we wouldn't want to sell it to possible competitors. Unfortunately, no takers were to be found, and we dissolved the partnership. (David subsequently moved to Portland, Oregon, where he is one of the principals of Immersive Media, developers of RoundAbout, a spherical camera and projection system.)

1990 : Graphics Press starts selling M.A.M. videotape

At that point, I felt it would be interesting to get more people's reactions to the M.A.M., so I started recording samples and sending them to my friends and to people whose work I admired. One of the latter was Edward Tufte, who encouraged me to produce a mass-produced videotape (which in 1990 I did, and which Tufte's Graphics Press sold for several years).

The feedback I got from buyers of the demo video was at once encouraging and discouraging. Many people appreciated the video, which was gratifying. However, very few of those interested were musicians, and even fewer were musicians capable of making their own animations using the software I'd written. I was starting to realize that what I'd originally hoped for contained an inherent contradiction: a musician skilled enough in reading and performing music to be capable of making a good M.A.M. recording would also be able to read music well enough that a M.A.M. score would be uninteresting to them.

Other things have also come to light to make me less sanguine about releasing M.A.M. software:

2001: still no commercial software, but ...

So, it's unlikely that the M.A.M. software (at least, as originally conceived) will ever be released commercially. However, I do offer the existing program, free, but with absolutely no product support, to anybody sincerely interested in investing the not insignificant amount of time it takes to install, learn, and use a quirky, eccentric, old-fashioned piece of software. If you have the following hardware:

and are willing to spend many possibly frustrating hours (and with the very distinct possibility that they will come to naught), then read on.

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