Originally published in Transoniq Hacker
Issue #21 (March 1987, p.1)
REVIEW: THE MIRAGE MULTI-TEMPERAMENT DISKBY DON SLEPIAN
PRODUCT: The Mirage Multi-Temperament Disk
PRICE: $29.95 plus $2.50 postage & handling.
FROM: Dick Lord, UPWARD CONCEPTS
The Temperament disk is a new version of Mirage Operating System 3.2. Sampling has been disabled and several new performance oriented parameters have been added. The disk performed exactly as advertised, and following the clear and simple instructions I was able to tap the full power of the disk quickly and easily. Inside 10 minutes I knew this package was an excellent value for the money. Inside 20 minutes I was busy with my Triton disk utility copying this new operating system onto all my show and performance disks.
In all the products I've reviewed I've rarely seen such a "sleeper" as this one. Hidden behind its esoteric title and intent is a transposition utility so useful and powerful that no Mirage owner should be without it. When the Temperament OS is loaded, parameter #76 allows you to instantly transpose the entire keyboard into any key, regardless of whether you are in standard or any alternative temperament. This facility alone is well worth the price of the disk. When accompanying singers you can toggle parameter #76 until the music fits their vocal range perfectly. I know you transpose readily at sight, but I and a few others really could use the help. When working with guitar-based music, the Mirage can be transposed into the common guitar keys of "E" and "A", making more effective use of the range of the keyboard. Any Mirage sequence residing in the on-board sequencer can also be transposed, including the pitch of percussion sequences.
This disk also has the most authentic Harpsichord and Pipe Organ samples I have heard. The five sequences, little snippets of Bach, are also very good.
The last unadvertised special involved setting parameter #74 to value 14. This produces a most unusual "temperament", with the keyboard inverted inside of each octave. By inverted I mean the pitch gets lower as you go up the keyboard. Since this can be done in an instant, I'm sure it will be the source of many spectacular practical jokes.
Now for the main course: 13 different historical temperaments. The Mirage is now unique among widely available commercial instruments with this new facility in demonstrating and instantly comparing these temperaments based on any key. I was fascinated, entertained, educated, and enlightened. At the end of my playing session I was left with a really heightened appreciation of Equal Temperament, the standard we all take for granted. The historical temperaments were fresh and useful in their home or closely related keys. Go further than three sharps or flats harmonic distance and the "wolf" tones start to bite. Like many modern composers, I have a penchant for capricious modulations. I could change keys at any moment. My cadences are deceptive, my sixths, Neapolitan, my sampler: the Ensoniq Mirage. Just as a strong spice enhances only a few dishes, the different historical temperaments demand special musical treatment in a setting of closely related keys. The best place to start is to play renaissance and baroque pieces in the temperaments in which they were written.
In conclusion, I would have to say that I've never had so much fun with a single Mirage disk ever. This is truly an example of the power of software ingenuity. I look forward to more OS extensions, particularly micro-tonality. Much credit goes to Dick Lord of Upward Concepts for an outstanding product.