A long while
ago, I got permission from Tom Bajoras (former
programmer for the now defunct Hybrid
Arts) to release GenEdit as freeware. However,
the only version we had was a non-working version
1.1. Rather, it did not work very well. Tom also
released the source code, so there was a possibility
of revamping it. After a long while, I received
a mail from a certain Joe Hlifka (of Albuquerque,
New Mexico). He and his team had managed to
upgrade GenEdit to version 2.02 with all the copy
protection lifted. What's more, Joe put together
a very comprehensive package. There's more to
this software than meets the MIDI cord! Read
his story below.
What is GenEdit?
is a "Universal MIDI organizer-editor-controller".
Instead of using a
separate editor for each synth, GenEdit allows
many synths to be edited
in one environment. Also, if there is no editor
available for your particular
synth, you can create a "template" for it.
runs on Atari ST, Mega ST, STE, Mega STE, TT
and Falcon computers in ST medium and ST high resolutions
(GenEdit does not run
on the 520ST because of memory limitations).
The GenEdit v2.02
freeware package consists of three files:
- The GenEdit program
program, resource files and all other files
that were included with
the original commercial program.
- The examples
The miscellaneous configuration
files and templates provided in the original
v2.0 release plus
some of the data files required for "Cool
Studio", and a "tutorial"
for using GenEdit.
- The sample studio
(Cool Studio) disk
configuration files, templates, data files and a "Quick
Start Tutorial" on setting up Cool
Studio, a contemporary
plug 'n' play GenEdit studio set-up, text for using the
GENSYSEX.GEN file and an updated 2003 GenEdit
support document listing all current
Using the software
I was able to
set up the Cool Studio disk and
run it on my Atari Falcon. Since I have a Kawai
XD5, I was very appreciative of finally being
able to edit this excellent synth. While known
as a drum machine, it also has the synthesis
engine of the Kawai K4 with plenty of resonant
filters and envelopes as well as lots of waveforms. Using GenEdit I was able to
make a bank of just synth sounds bringing the
usefulness of my XD5 ten-fold. To get things
working properly however, you need to have a
two-way communication: both MIDI Ins and MIDI
Outs of both the Atari and XD5 were required.
However, this is true of most other editors
the editing screens very creative and not like
your run-of-the-mill, same-as-all-the-rest editors.
Each template in GenEdit is personalized by
the creator of the template. No two templates
are the same in layout, giving you a more personalized
editing environment. I was surprised at the
sheer amount of supported instruments: 147 instruments
in all! This also includes some more modern
instruments such as the Yamaha MU100R/MU90R
and PRS series, Waldorf Microwave and Korg NS5R/NX5R.
with Joe Hlifka
Tim: Tell me how you
got started on this project?
Joe: In 1996, I contacted
every Atari dealer still in business looking
for a copy of GenEdit. I finally found one at
Steve's Computers. I think I bought the very
last copy that was out there. Because the program
was copy protected, I contacted Binary Sounds
about getting a backup disk and the section
of the manual that explained how to create custom
editors. Bob Semaan informed me that he only
had a few backup disks and was saving them for
registered owners who had damaged key disks.
He expressed an interest in removing the copy
protection from the program, but apparently
didn't have a way of doing that. Chapters 8
and 9 and Appendix C were not available but
said he was working on re-writing them and thought
they would be available in a few months.
By early 1998,
Binary Sounds had gone out of business, so I
began my quest to find the missing chapters
of the manual and figure out how to make a backup
of my master disk. Bob's comment to me about
removing the copy protection took up residence
in the back of my mind and stuck with me. Later
that year I found a utility that allowed me
to make a working copy of the master disk and
I came across the name of Andy Pederson listed
on a GenEdit support document. I almost missed
the connection with Andy because he had recently
moved and his phone number had changed. I found
Andy to be a friendly soul and very helpful;
he went out of his way to make photocopies of
the missing chapters and mailed them to me at
his own expense. In exchange for his help, I
made him a backup copy of the GenEdit program
disk. Andy has also recently contributed several
templates to the GenEdit package.
Tim: How did you finally
get the copy protection removed from the program?
Joe: Around September
of 2001 I contacted Tom Bajoras and asked him
if he would consider upgrading SysXpress, the
GenEdit desk accessory. He said he no longer
owned an Atari computer but was willing to release
the source code so I could pursue an upgrade.
I think it was just after that, I discovered
you had gotten the GenEdit source code from
Tom and had it available for download at Tim's
Atari MIDI World. So I set out to find an Atari
programmer who could upgrade SysXpress and remove
the copy protection from GenEdit.
I did a lot of
asking around and kept striking out. Then in
June of 2002, I contacted Roger Burrows at Anodyne
Software in Ontario Canada. He said he was far
more expensive than I could afford, but offered
to take a look at it. He thought it sounded
like a simple fix. Six beta versions and about
eight months later; SysXpress was finished.
Roger was very
generous with his time and I thoroughly enjoyed
the beta testing. I came to appreciate the trouble
shooting and problem solving aspect of computer
programming. I had sent him the GenEdit source
code somewhere along the way but was feeling
a bit guilty about all the time he had spent
on SysXpress so I didn't want to bother him
about GenEdit. Then in an e-mail when we were
wrapping things up on the desk accessory, Roger
casually stated, "by the way; did I mention
that I patched GenEdit and removed the copy
protection?" I was totally surprised! After he sent me
the patched version,
I booted the program several times in a row
to be sure it worked OK. It was great to be
able to run the program without a key disk!
I still wanted to pay him something for
all his help but he said, "You could buy
my CD Writer Suite software, I wouldn't mind
selling another copy"; so I bought his
software and later found a SCSI CD-RW drive
Tim: So what did it
take to complete this project?
Joe: The GenEdit package
I bought included the program and examples disks
and 18 disks of templates and configurations.
Now that I had a SysXpress upgrade and GenEdit
was free of copy protection, I thought it would
be nice to share these with other GenEdit owners.
It was at that point, I contacted you about
making the program and all templates available
Tim: What's in store
for the future?
Joe: I'm currently
working on a GenEdit CD-ROM. Since I now have
a CD burner and software for my TT030, I thought
it would be fun to burn the complete GenEdit
package to a CD using Roger Burrows' software.
Everything would be in one place rather than
scattered over 20 floppy disks. From that original
idea, I added all the Hybrid Arts software,
several other MIDI freeware and shareware programs,
some custom patches, sequences and other things.
The CD has grown to about 45 MB in size. The
GenEdit program and related files alone make
up about 14 MB. I put together a demonstration
plug 'n' play studio set-up as part of the package
to showcase what the program can do. I think
the GenEdit 2.02 release may very well be the
largest MIDI freeware package currently available
for the Atari.
Tim: Have you set
a price for the CD?
Joe: I don't think
I should be burning CDs and just give them away,
so I'll charge a minimal fee for my time of
putting it all together. I haven't made a final
decision, but I'm thinking in the neighborhood
of $22 to $25 US dollars. My biggest task at
this point is to finish scanning the manual
and reformat it to PDF. It's about 250 pages.
A printed manual would be out of the question
and would more than double the cost. Without
the manual, many capabilities of GenEdit would
be missed or would be difficult to grasp. GenEdit's
simple looking main screen is deceiving. I
should have it all finished by the summer of
Tim: What is it about
the program that made it worth taking on this
Joe: To my knowledge,
just about all the so-called universal editor/librarians
for the Atari platform are copy protected. There
are about 120 instruments supported by GenEdit,
so removing the copy protection and making it
available to everyone has given it new value.
We have STeem for the PC and NoSTalgia for the
Mac, so GenEdit can run on those machines too.
GenEdit is more
than a good editor/librarian; you can manage
an entire MIDI studio with it, create macros
for dump requests or to send single key-stroke
commands over MIDI to reset your gear or whatever.
It has a MIDI monitor for trouble-shooting that
also serves as a good tool for learning about
MIDI messages. With SysXpress you can
send GenEdit and other SysEx files to your gear
on the fly from the desktop, or while running
your sequencer. There's also a patch randomizer
that allows you to quickly generate new patches
for your synth.
I think the most
important thing about the program is its open-ended
architecture. It was designed to allow anyone
to create custom editors, librarians, real-time
controllers and dump utilities for almost any
MIDI instrument or device on the planet. Potentially,
GenEdit can be useful well into the future because
of its "roll-your-own" capability.
It will never become obsolete if users continue
supporting the program individually or collectively.
If there were enough interest, it would be nice
to see a GenEdit users' group start up. I
think we could see the development of templates
for some newer instruments. And that would be
MIDI home studio.
I didn't have
a lot of space for my home studio so I had to
be creative. The one-piece studio is on wheels
and holds all the audio and MIDI gear. The computer
is housed in a second stand also on wheels.
It all fits into a 6 ft x 6 ft (36 sq. ft) space
including my chair. Everything was acquired
over a 25 year period, but most of the MIDI
gear was purchased in the last ten or eleven
Some of the audio
gear is real vintage stuff:
- Dynaco pre-amp
- Hitachi power
- Radio Shack equalizer
- Radio Shack tape
- Mackie 1202 VLZ
- Rolls MX28 Mini-Mix
- AKG K270 studio
- KLH tweeters
My MIDI gear
- Yamaha MU100R
- Korg NS5R
- Roland SC880
- Hybrid Arts SMPTE
Mate Plus sync. box
- Brother PDC100
My hardware controllers
- Yamaha PSR-510
keyboard (I'm not using the sound engine)
- Peavey PC1600x
- PAiA MIDI to
- Yamaha breath
- Custom hack,
Pocket Pedal/Pocket Mapper in one case
- Custom hack,
SY77 3 thumb-wheels with several potentiometers
- Extra foot switch
and sweep pedal for sending real-time controller
- JL Cooper MSB+
Rev2 MIDI patch-bay
- JL Cooper Nexus
My Atari computer
- TT030 with 4
ST RAM x 32 MB TT RAM (I pulled the internal
HD and slowed down the
fan to reduce the noise level)
- Sony 0.25
mm grille pitch
- High resolution
Alfa Data Mouse
- SyQuest EZ-135
drive for MIDI
- Seagate 1 GB
HD and Yamaha 8824 CD-RW in one case used with
- Quantum 730
HD and NEC 8x CD reader in one case for non-MIDI
- Iomega 1 GB
Jaz drive for backups
- UMAX 1220S flatbed
- Canon BJC-4000
- Tons of software
Tim at NAMM
I was able to
go to the NAMM Winter 2004 convention (National
Association of Music Merchants) in Anaheim,
California, and check out the latest gear. I
am now into sound design for soft-synths, so
it was great being able to meet the actual people
who produce them. I even met Eric Persing who
did a major part of the Roland factory presets.
He works at Spectrasonics now and helped to
develop its "Atmosphere" VSTi plug-in.
One of my recent projects was creating sounds
for Camel Audio's Cameleon 5000 additive morphing
re-synthesizer. Here I am demonstrating
it at the show. Someone else took the pic, and
posted it on the web, so it is rather fuzzy,
but you get the idea.
I was able
to live a dream, and actually shake the hands
of Bob Moog himself and get his autograph. For
those that don't know, Bob Moog invented the
modular synthesizer and also the Mini Moog.
I was also able to live another dream by
setting up a meeting with producer/inventor
Jimmy Hotz, who was responsible for the Hotz
MIDI Translator. Here is a photo of that event.
Sorta like the
odd couple (I am on the right) but it was a
great privilege to meet him. He talked about
his experiences with the Hotz Box, including
a story with working with Paul Hasslinger (of
Tangerine Dream) and Atari Cubase. He is responsible
for a great many artists getting into MIDI which
included Fleetwood Mac, the Pointer Sisters
and even BB King! His Translator software and
also the now coveted Hotz Box (marketed by Atari)
helped bring MIDI into our present age. See
my Hotz MIDI Translator page for details
are a great many articles on him including several
in STart magazine, a popular Atari magazine
in the late '80s, and now on-line.
It was quite
something to actually go to a NAMM show after
just reading about it all these years. However
after a while, you tend to get NAMMed out! I
even got blisters on both my feet! All in all
a very good time.