After reviewing several cuts, I settled in on one titled "Isle of Dreams." In its raw form, the cut was basically neuter for a hot CHR. But, sensing potential, I kicked the tempo up from 84 beats per minute to 110 bpm. Then I added a drum part from a MIDI keyboard spicing it up somewhat. With a few keystrokes, I replaced the bassoon/oboe part with a strong sawtooth analog synth part. Now I was approaching something usable! The piece was thirty-four seconds long at this point, so I commanded the computer to do a "fit time" to thirty seconds, and it automatically adjusted the tempo upward to clock in at thirty seconds. This was not only easy, but it was also getting fun! To illustrate how drastic the manipulation of a MIDI file can be, listen to this month's Cassette for an A/B comparison of "Isle of Dreams."

The potential of MIDI files is limited to your own imagination. Replace that flute passage with sampled Cuisinarts dropped from the Empire State Building! Lions in heat over the string pads! Sub-nuclear flatulence from Mars instead of... Okay, I'm getting carried away, but you see the potential to customize a cut to fit your specific needs. You may also think, "I've got a spot for Bubba's Tires that airs in nineteen minutes! I haven't got time for this!"

Point well taken. From the time I kicked on the computer until I got a decent track was about fifteen minutes. Once established, I saved all of the settings in both the keyboard and the computer so the track would be ready at a moment's notice. Any modification would take just a few moments from that point. Save your mix to DAT or a cart for easy retrieval. Go to lunch.

This Test Drive just goes to show the direction that technology is taking you and I, the production drone, in the '90's. Do you really need a computer and multiple keyboards to survive in radio? Not really. Creativity and the willingness to experiment are valuable, but often will go unnoticed. But if great production is your passion, and if personal satisfaction is more important than what the sales slime demand, go for it. You have so many tools available to you now. Yell, rant, and pout until you get the tools you need to make your product a reflection of your innermost creativity.

It may be a little soon for radio stations to begin shopping for the "hottest" MIDI files, but you've got to give 27th Dimension some credit for recognizing what may well be the wave of the future in production music libraries.

There are presently three disks of MIDI files available from 27th Dimension at $50 each. Each disk contains four titles. The files are in the "GS" standard format and are available for Macintosh and IBM compatibles.