This page was last modified 18:09, 7 December 2021 by Mars2000you. Based on work by Gdx.



'Music-BOX' is an MSX-AUDIO firmware provided with the intermediate MSX-AUDIO cartridge, the Philips NMS 1205 (Music Module), including however some exclusive features.

It is conceived to be used optionally with a specific MSX-AUDIO music keyboard, the Philips NMS 1160.

It boots up automatically, but can be skipped by holding the ESC key. From MSX-BASIC, it can be launched by entering CALL MUSICBOX or _MUSICBOX.


  • On the Philips NMS 8220 pressing ESC on startup to skip the integrated Designer firmware will also prevent the Music-BOX software from starting at the same time. In this case, start it from MSX-BASIC with CALL MUSICBOX.
  • Upgraded versions made by the MSX scene inverse the procedure as you need then to press the ESC key while booting to launch the firmware.

This firmware allows users to create their own songs, play along with the preset rhythms and play with echo and pitch effects using the microphone in real time.


This firmware has support for keyboard, mouse in port 1 and joystick in port 2. It means that the main actions (moves of the cursor or pointer, changes in settings parameters or selection of a specific operation) can be made in three different ways.

Besides, the 8 screens of the application can be reached by clicking the appropriate icon or by pressing a function key.

Melody menu (F1)

Music-BOX - Melody (F1)

This menu is automatically displayed after launching of the firmware and you can hear a randomly selected riff that can serve as starting point to compose a song. You can change the tempo and the volume of the melody even while listening to the riff or the song.

Setting Values
PRO MODE ON / OFF (default value)
RIFF 20 available riffs (see table)
TEMPO 62 to 200

For each provided riff, you can check the Riff Data Table below to know the default tempo.

When you input a melody (see below) wIthout being in PRO MODE, the program only allows you to play notes which harmonize with the selected riff. The PRO MODE allows to play a wider range of notes, and requires therefore to use your own musical skill to decide which notes sound right with the accompaniment.

How to input a melody

GLING input

First press simultaneously on the SHIFT and CLS/HOME keys to clear any existing melody in the computer RAM. You can then select a riff before selecting the START GLING option in the Melody menu. You can now hear the riff and 'gling' along with it by pressing the keys on the second from top row of your computer keyboard.

If the riff stops playing while you are inputting in GLING mode, it means that you have entered the maximum number of notes and that the computer RAM is full.

The GLING input allows you not only to add a melody to the selected riff but also to record your melody in the computer RAM exactly as you play it, for subsequent playback. When you select the PLAYBACK option in the Melody menu, the melody will be playing while the notes will be displayed on the music stave.


First press simultaneously on the SHIFT and CLS/HOME keys to clear any existing melody in the computer RAM. Select a note or a rest in the green area, then position the pointer between the two markers above and below the music stave and click. It's the step time input mode, that is available on all screens of the application.

Each time you add a note, it will move to the left, allowing you to input the next note. If you are not in PRO MODE, some notes can be automatically moved to another place on the music stave, this to get harmony between the riff and the melody.

You can scroll through the music with the little arrows above the green zone and replace a note by another one. Deleting a note can be made with the DEL key, inserting a note is possible by activating the insert mode with the INS key.

To listen to your song, you can press the SELECT key or go to the Melody menu to choose the PLAYBACK option.

Sounds menu (F2)

Music-BOX - Sounds Menu (F2)

This menu is related to the sounds (or voices) you want to use for the melody, the four accompaniment channels and the bass channel.

They can be modified even while listening to your song - see the Voice Data Table below. Note that only 1 (long or short) sample can be used as voice in your song.

For each provided riff, you can check the Riff Data Table below to know the default sounds (or voices).

Drums menu (F3)

Music-BOX - Drums (F3)

This menu is related to the drums set you want to use. The selection can also be done while listening to your song.

Setting Meaning Values
SELECT Drums set 1 to 10

You can also separately listen to the selected drums set. Choose for that the MANUAL PLAY option and use the following keys of the keyboard: TAB - Q - W - E - R

For each provided riff, you can check the Riff Data Table below to know the default drums set.

Volume control menu (F4)

Music-BOX - Volume Control (F4)

This menu allows to change the volume of each sound (or voice) used in your song, with exception for the melody. It can be done also when you listen to your song.

Sound sampler menu (F6)

Music-BOX - Sound Sampler (F6)

This menu allows to sample any sound captured by the built-in microphone or the line input (left side of the Music Module).

Define the settings first then an action (RECORD in the Sample RAM or PLAYBACK). The settings can be modified even when you listen to your song.

Setting Meaning Values
SELECT Name of sample as 'voice' 4 shorts samples (1.15 seconds)
and 1 long sample (4.6 seconds)
(default value: long sample)
TRIGGER Trigger mode for recording (*) AUTO (default value) - MANUAL

(*) the bottom of the screen allows to set the TRIGGER LEVEL used in AUTO mode (only sound above the choosen level, indicated by a T, will activate the recording) - it replaces the SPACEBAR used in MANUAL mode to start the recording

The sensitivity of the built-in microphone can be adjusted by the slider on the left side of the Music Module. After a first playback, the sound can be played on the two top rows of the computer keyboard. Sample fine tune is possible with the GRAPH+X keys (lower pitch) or the GRAPH+C keys (higher pitch).

Special effects menu (F7)

Music-BOX - Special Effects (F7)

This menu is related to the special effects you can apply to your voice or any other sound that is captured by the built-in microphone or an external microphone connected to the Music Module (on the left side).

Choose first a setting then the corresponding action (START CONVERTER or START ECHO). The settings can be modified even when you listen to your song.

Setting Meaning Values
CONVERTER Pitch converter 1 to 10 (default value: 4)
ECHO TIME Echo delay time 25 ms - 50 ms - 75 ms - 100 ms (default value) -
125 ms - 250 ms - 500 ms * - 750 ms * - 1.25 sec *
  • = only if the computer has at least 32kB RAM

External menu (F8)

Music-BOX - External (F8)

This menu is related to the connexion of external music keyboard (on left side of the Music Module) and synthesizers with MIDI capacities (on right side of the Music Module). Note that the keyboard connector is conceived to be used only with the Philips NMS 1160 music keyboard.

Setting Values
KEYBOARD ON / OFF (default value)
MIDI ON / OFF (default value)
MIDI MODE Mono / Polyphonic (default value)

All these parameters can be modified even when you listen to your song.

Disk/Tape operations menu (F9)

Music-BOX - Tape Operations (F9)
Music-BOX - Disk Operations (F9)

This screen allows to load/save data from/to cassette or disk. The name of the file can be entered in a specific place.

The utility detects if a disk drive if connected to present only the disk operations, otherwise it presents only the tape operations.

Choose first the mode (MELODY - SAMPLE - DUAL) then an operation. The mode selection can be done even when you listen to your song.

Here are the different possibilities:

Mode Operation Cassette Disk
MELODY (.MEL file on disk) Load melody X X
Save melody X X
Delete melody - X
SAMPLE (.SAM file on disk) Load sample X X
Save sample X X
Delete sample - X
DUAL (.DUA file on disk) Load melody + sample X X
Save melody + sample X X
Delete melody + sample - X

Riff Data Table

This utility includes 20 riffs or pre-programmed musical accompaniment arrangements in different styles. The below table includes the default values for the tempo and the different sounds (or voices).

Note: The riffs are actually not numbered.

Riff No. Name Tempo Melody Accomp. 1 Accomp. 2 Accomp. 3 Accomp. 4 Bass Drums
01 Classical 130 Flute Synth 1 Hand Bell Harp Synth Lead Synth 1 02
02 Funky 120 Synth Lead Trumpet Electric
Organ 1
Electric Bass 01
03 Swing 156 Trumpet Brass Trombone Brass Clarinet Electric Bass 01
04 Oriental 80 Koto Koto Koto Xylophone Xylophone Electric Bass 07
05 March 120 Trumpet Piccolo Trumpet Trumpet Trumpet Tuba 01
06 Pop 120 Blues
Brass Brass Electric
Organ 1
Accordion Synth Bass 09
07 Euro-Disco 128 Wah Brass Brass Brass Brass Brass Electric Bass 09
08 Euro-Funk 120 Synth Lead Trumpet Trumpet Trumpet Trumpet Synth Bass 10
09 Country 130 Banjo Banjo Banjo Banjo Volin Bass 09
10 Waltz 200 Accordion Accordion Accordion Accordion Brass Electric Bass 01
11 Euro-Rap 176 Trumpet Brass Brass Strings Trumpet Synth Bass 02
12 Rock 'n' Roll 166 Toy Piano Blues
Electric Bass 09
13 Reggae 100 Synth Lead Spanish
Organ 2
Organ 2
Synth Bass 09
14 Scottish 132 Bagpipes Bagpipes Bagpipes Bagpipes Bagpipes Synth Bass 01
15 Arabian 84 Sitar Flute Flute Clarinet Fkute Sitar 10
16 Indian 120 Sitar Sitar Sitar Sitar Sitar Sitar 08
17 Latin 108 Trumpet Spanish
Electric Bass 08
18 Disco 120 Blues
Brass Brass Blues
Synth 1 02
19 Spanish 200 Spanish
Sitar Sitar Sitar Electric Bass 08
20 Hungarian 166 Accordion Trumpet Brass Brass Clarinet Tuba 07

Voice Data Table

This utility has its own system of voices (or sounds), regrouped by instrument type and using abbreviations. There are obviously user voices created for this firmware, but accurate infos are missing to compare with default MSX-AUDIO voices (see CALL VOICE). The below table tries to make this comparison, but it includes probably many errors and inacurracies.

Note: The sounds are actually not numbered, and the 5 last positions are reserved for 4 shorts samples (1.15 seconds) and 1 long sample (4.6 seconds).

Voice No. Name _VOICE No. Voice No. Name _VOICE No.
01 Synth 1 24 34 Trombone
02 Synth 2 35 Horn 48
03 Synth Lead 36 Tuba
04 Synth Sweep 37 Wah Brass
05 Synth Bass 23 38 Bell Brass
06 Meaty Job 39 Strings
07 Wayout 40 Plucked Strings
08 Nice Sound 41 Violin 2
09 Alien 42 Saxophone
10 Bell 21 43 Clarinet 4
11 Handbell 28 44 Flute 3 or 36
12 Noizy 45 Piccolo
13 Spacebell 46 Blockflute
14 Plinkstring 47 Oboe 5
15 Sitar 48 Bassoon
16 Blues Guitar 49 Harmonica
17 Spanish Guitar 50 Bagpipes
18 Fuzz Guitar 51 Piano 0
19 Banjo 52 Electric Piano 1 1
20 Harp 53 Electric Piano 2 32
21 Mouth-Harp 54 Toy Piano
22 Bass 33 55 Harpsichord 14 or 15
23 Slap Bass 56 Celesta
24 Electric Bass 12 57 Accordion
25 Rasp Bass 58 Pipe Organ 7 or 40
26 Glocklenspiel 59 Electric Organ 1 9
27 Koto 17 or 39 60 Electric Organ 2 46
28 Marimba 61 Short Sample 1
29 Xylophone 8 62 Short Sample 2
30 Vibraphone 16 63 Short SAmple 3
31 Steel Drum 64 Short Sample 4
32 Brass 35 65 Long Sample
33 Trumpet 6

Useful keys

F1 Go to Melody menu
F2 Go to Sounds menu
F3 Go to Drums menu
F4 Go to Volume control menu
F6 Go to Sound sampler menu
F7 Go to Special effects menu
F8 Go to External menu
F9 Go to Disk/Tape operations menu
Cursors Move arrow or pointer, (left) decrease a parameter, (right) increase a parameter
Keys on the two top rows Playback of sample
Keys on the second
from top row
Input notes while using the GLING input
Keys TAB - Q - W - E - R Manual play of selected drums set
BS Erase a character of file name in Disk/Tape operations
CLS / HOME Back to the starting point of your melody when using te step time input
CTRL+STOP Abort any disk operation
DEL Delete the note that is betwen the note markers
GRAPH + C Higher pitch for captured voice or sound (fine tuning)
GRAPH + X Lower pitch for captured voice or sound (fine tuning)
INS Activate / De-activate the insert mode when using the step time input
RETURN Validate a file name in Disk/Tape operations
SELECT Start the playback of a riff or song
SHIFT + CLS/HOME Clear a melody from the computer RAM
SPACE Select an action, a note, the location of the note on the music scale
(between the note markers) - needs to be pressed twice to start the recording
of a sample in the Sample RAM if you use the manual triggering mode
STOP Stop the playback of a riff or song, the GLING input, the manual play of a drums
set or a special effect

Audio Sample Tape

The Sound Effects cassette was provided with the Philips Music Module. It contains additional voices (or sounds) in the sample format. They can be loaded in the application and used to compose new songs.

Side A of the tape contains non-musical sounds while side B contains musical sounds.

Sample No. Name Sample No. Name Sample No. Name
01 Car horn 08 Tiger 15 Little ben (bell)
02 Dog - Yap 09 Jungle 16 Plink
03 Dog - Bark 10 Rambo - Machine gun 17 Planet X
04 Cow - Moo 11 Car skid 18 Tropical birds
05 Cow - Short Moo 12 Boing noise 19 Scream
06 Geese 13 Champagne cork
07 Elephant 14 Wow bass / Cosmic wave
01 Cellos 13 Wow synth A 25 Slap bass high
02 High strings 14 Indian sitar + tabla riff A 26 Slap bass low
03 Orchestral stab 1 15 Majestic organ 27 Piano
04 Brass slide down 16 Gong 28 Piano 1 note bass
05 Brass slide up 17 Timpani 29 Piano 3 stab reverb
06 Acoustic guitar 18 Tom-tom 30 Honky tonk piano
07 Rock guitar 19 Snare drum 31 Saxophone growl
08 Fuzz guitar 20 Bass drums 32 Saxophone stab 1
09 Chorus electric guitar 1 21 Crash cymbal 33 Saxophone smooth
10 Chorus electric guitar 2 22 Hi-hat 34 Saxophone stab 2
11 Acoustc double bass A 23 Dow synthesizer 35 Orchestral stab 2
12 Choir A 24 Xylophone