Advertisement for Melodian for the Commodore 64 from the December 1984 issue of Ahoy! magazine.
A few years later, the Atari ST would become known as the computer to have for music related applications, especially MIDI. However, before that, the Commodore 64 had some pretty impressive capabilities for an 8-bit computer. In 1984, a product called ‘Melodian’ was released that consisted of a keyboard that plugged directly into your Commodore 64 and relatively sophisticated software for learning, composing and arranging music.
Melodian came with a number of built-in instruments and you could even design your own instrument sounds. There was a tutorial for teaching music and it gave you the ability to create your own compositions. As far as I know, this wasn’t a MIDI so nothing you did with this software would have been compatible with anything else but it still had pretty impressive capabilities.
Melodian didn’t seem to survive long on the market and I suspect there are a few reasons. First, it was relatively expensive at $200 with additional optional software for another $40. This is more expensive than the Commodore 64 alone would have been at this time (not including the disk drive). Also, the Atari ST came along the following year with its cheap MIDI capabilities and I suspect this would have been a preferable solution with the appropriate software.
From the ad:
“Imagine yourself in a professional recording studio, manipulating richly musical sounds from any of sixteen different instruments. Imagine creating your own musical compositions, just like a recording superstar. Imagine starting as a novice and becoming a musical master. Now the future of musical entertainment is as close as your home computer…Introducing MELODIAN
THE COMMODORE-64 COMPATIBLE MELODIAN KEYBOARD plugs right into your home computer…and then the fun begins. The menu driven display screen lets you experiment with inifinite varieties of instrumentation and orchestration all with only four simple command keys. And the colorful user-friendly graphics invite you to learn the basics of music at your own pace.
THE MELODIAN CONCERTMASTER software package allows you to record and mix multi-track music just like a professional recording engineer. Put down the bass track and get it just right. Then add guitar, brass, or woodwinds. Experiment with MELODIAN’S unique ADSR synthesizer window to custom design your own new instrument sounds…and before you know it, you have a completely new musical arrangement. Or you can study the intricacies of prerecorded musical pieces, note for note…and then rearrange them to your heart’s content.
THE MELODIAN RHYTHMMASTER software package starts with your own natural sense of rhythm…the building block of music…and takes it to perfection. Meet the challenge of RhythmMaster as you learn the basics of rhythm and pitch. Track your progress until you make it all the way to virtuoso.
AFFORDABLE BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGY…ONLY $199.90. The MELODIAN system is the result of breakthrough computer design innovations, invented by the same team who developed high-tech music systems for recording superstars. That’s why for less than $200, you can start with the Melodian Keyboard and ConcertMaster and start making music right away. RhythmMster can be added for only $39.95. And other exciting prerecorded programs will be available soon. MELODIAN products are available at computer and music stores. Or you can call Melodian directly at 1-800-MELODIA and charge it on all major credit cards. All Melodian products have a 15 day moneyback guarantee.”
I’m not sure if any of those “other exciting prerecorded programs” were ever released.
The above ad is from issue number 12 of Ahoy! magazine from December 1984.