INDEX BY: Edition / Title
KS2 upwards
min. RISC OS 3.1, 4MB of RAM, ARM 3
(not recommended for A300, 400, 3000, 3010, 3020, 4000 computers)

Rhapsody 4
programmed by Oliver Linton
published by Clares Micro Supplies (01606 48511)
introductory price 99.95 (inc. VAT), discounts for Rhapsody 2/3 users.

Rhapsody 4

Rhapsody 4 is a music writing program which is aimed at schools and home users rather than professional musicians. The publishers claim that this version is a completely new package and list about twenty new features on offer. One major improvement is the elimination of the need for the extra Scoredraw, used for formatting the score prior to printing and now integrated into the package.

Inputting music is done by selecting notes or musical symbols from an on-screen panel and dropping these into place on or about the cursor which appears on the stave. Notes can also be entered from a MIDI keyboard in real-time or step-time. There is no limitation on the number of key signatures or time signatures that can be used (within reason) and a comprehensive selection of symbols is available. Music appears as a continuous stream in the editing window and to see what the printed score will look like the option 'format' is selected from the menu. Further editing on the appearance of the score can be carried out before printing but there is not the total control found in a professional program.

Users of Rhapsody 2 or 3 may wish to upgrade to this enhanced version but they should first check that their machine is sufficiently modern and has enough memory. I found it relatively slow on a 4MB A5000, even after increasing the font cache, and my computer stopped a couple times probably due to lack of available memory. Also it was necessary to re-configure the machine (removing the RAM disc facility) before the program would work at all - a fact only mentioned in the lengthy 'ReadMe' file.

Rival music notation programs include Sibelius 6 (99) - quicker and more intuitive - and Junior Sibelius! (49) - for primary schools, limited but easy to use. However, those happy and familiar with Rhapsody 2/3 may find that this new version is just what they are looking for.

Stop Press ..... Shortly after Clares released the latest version Rhapsody 4, Acorn announced that they are ceasing to manufacture new computers - although I believe there is a possibility that another party may be licensed to do so. However, Clares have re-affirmed their commitment to the Acorn platform - the only one they write for - on the grounds that there is still a large market of of owners and enthusiasts to be catered for.

Mike Jackson
Freelance musician/teacher