The old Apple II, first introduced in 1977, was a revolutionary computer in many ways. Sound capabilities were not one of them. The Apple II’s sound system, unlike contemporaries such as the Atari 800 or Commodore 64, did not use a discreet sound chip, but rather a simple timer circuit that could be coaxed into creating square-wave tones. Most chiptune musicians tend to use sound-chip based systems, but there is a certain charm to square-wave tones. Some may define this charm as “annoyance.”
So, as a grand “musical” experiment, noted loon Jason Torchinsky has written a crude 16-step sequencer for the Apple II, and is seeking to gather up as many Apple IIs as possible to construct an orchestra which will then perform a live, dynamic concert/musical event. Machine’s resident music guru, Chris Kallemyer, will be on hand to discuss the nature of music, why some of the Apple’s 256 tones are notes and some are not, and generally help make things somewhat listenable.
Who knows what the end result will sound like? A chorus of angels, poking at touch-tone phones? All the computers from the background of every sci-fi movie from the 1950s-80s going off at once? A serenade by a truckload of R2-D2s? Come on out and listen for yourselves.
We are currently seeking Apple II owners to contribute to making this happen! Please contact [email protected] if you would like to participate!