AdLib Visual Composer

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Visual Composer
AdLib Visual Composer - DOS.png
Creator Ad Lib Inc.
Released 1987
Platform DOS
For the example songs, see AdLib Visual Composer (DOS).

Visual Composer is a music composer program created by Ad Lib Inc. specifically for their Ad Lib Music Synthesizer Card from 1987.

Just like the on-board OPL2 chip, Visual Composer has two modes to choose from: Six voice channels and a bass drum, snare, tom, hi-hat, and cymbal channel, or a "Without Percussion" mode with nine channels, and on each channel, only one note can play. To insert or change a note, you "paint" it over the piano roll using your mouse or computer keyboard. The whole program has only 2 colors to allow a wider screen resolution. It also has a MIDI recording function, but it does not work with Sound Blaster cards, and Dan Froelich and Matthias Steinwachs confirmed on their respective website using a mouse.

Instruments were always stored in separate files from the composition. In early versions, one instrument was stored in one INS file, which was always 54 bytes. However, due to how floppy and hard disks work, every file costs 1 KB of real disk space, so in version 1.5, the BNK format was introduced to save that space. A bank contains the names and timbres of all instruments, and you have to choose one bank for your composition. The original bank (STANDARD.BNK) has numerous instruments to choose from, from accordions to xylophones. Visual Composer does not create or modify instruments and banks itself; for that, it came with the Instrument Maker and Bank Manager programs, and also AdLib Juke Box to play ROL files in a playlist.

At any time in-song, you can change the tempo, the instruments in a channel, the volume, and the pitch accuracy. But even at that, Visual Composer can't easily do some things that other music composition programs can do, like arpeggios, pitch bends, and note slides. Arpeggios and tuplets can be created by altering the tempo in the middle of the song.

Music is saved in the ROL format. Games that used Visual Composer for their music either came with the artist's original ROL and BNK files and AdLib Sound Driver, or conversions in MDI, CMF or custom formats and drivers. The former meant that other people could modify the songs and use the instruments from the game in their own compositions.


The following composers used Visual Composer:


Version Download Platform Notes
1.51 Download - (info) DOS Includes Instrument Maker and Juke Box