By James Frankel
There is a brand new way to make some pretty cool music that only requires your computer keyboard and some sound files. Alphabet Soup is a great new application from Oz Music Code that allows you to use your keyboard like a sound palette. The software is so simple to load and use, you really canıt believe that such a simple interface can make such great music. Hereıs how it works: you load the software onto your Apple G3/G4 PowerBook, iMac, or PowerMac using OSX (sorry PC users). Next, download some sound clips (mp3, AIFF, WAV files) from either your own CDıs, iTunes, or any other legal outlet for obtaining sound files. You can even use your built-in microphone to record your own sounds. The next step is to open Alphabet Soup and then click and drag sound files onto a visual representation of your keyboard. For example, drag a file to the letter T. Once you have all the sound files you want dropped into wherever you want them, you simply press the corresponding letter and the sound file plays. If you press Shift and the letter, the sound file will automatically loop. You can layer as many sound files as youıd like to create some really complex grooves. The software comes with some stock sounds that give you a pretty cool ³rave² feel. As far as an educational use for this software, itıs a great way to connect with students who are into sampled music (rap, techno, hip hop). Watching students use a computer keyboard as a musical instrument is an ingenious use of a traditionally non-musical piece of hardware. Whatıs even better than just having the students perform with Alphabet Soup is having them record their work. Using the 1/8² audio out jack, you can hook up your computer to any type of analog or digital recording device. With some inexpensive audio editing software, you can skip that step and burn directly to a CD-ROM. I would recommend this software application for music educators who are on a budget and would like to get their students making music now. It is also very applicable to middle and high school music programs that have an established technology component to their curriculum and are looking to expand their sonic capabilities at a very inexpensive price. There are thousands of ways that you can use Alphabet Soup. Get it and discover some ways on your own. Itıs cheap, wholesome sonic food for the soul. Bon appetit!