MSX Music-System
This page was last modified 18:07, 7 December 2021 by Mars2000you. Based on work by Gdx.
MSX Music-System menu
MSX Music-System intro screen



'MSX Music-System' is an MSX-AUDIO firmware provided with the complete MSX-AUDIO cartridge, the Panasonic FS-CA1 and the 'basic' MSX-AUDIO cartridge Toshiba HX-MU900 (FM-Synthesizer Unit). In the Panasonic version, the Toshiba references have been removed and the program has been adapted for a music keyboard without Multi-Sensor.

It is conceived to be used with a standard MSX-AUDIO music keyboard (usually the Toshiba HX-MU901 or the Panasonic FS-MKB1). However, the Panasonic version allows to use the computer keyboard as music keyboard.

It boots up automatically, but can be skipped by holding the ESC key if you use the Toshiba cartridge. According the position of the switch on the Panasonic cartridge, this program will boot up automatically or not, but it can be skipped by holding the ESC key.

The menu of this utility gives access to three MSX-AUDIO songs and a music editor. A demo mode with these songs is also included and you can see the played notes on the keyboard. You can notice that the menu screen creates some confusion with MSX-MUSIC, which is a light version of MSX-AUDIO!

From MSX-BASIC, it can be launched by entering

  • CALL SYNTHE or _SYNTHE with the Panasonic cartridge if you don't have already used the CALL AUDIO command
  • CALL SYN or _SYN with the Toshiba cartridge


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


MSX Music-System editor

The editor screen is divided into several sections.

If you enter this screen when one of the three MSX-AUDIO songs from the menu is played, you will see the values corresponding to the played song for the different parameters.

Polyphonic, bass and chord sections

Setting Values
VOI Voice 65 presets (see Voice Data Table)
VIB Vibrato ON / OFF
SUST Sustain Short / Long

During perfomance (with or without recording) or playback, the chord names are displayed in a special section at the right top of the screen.

Rhythm section

Setting Values
PAT Rhythm pattern 20 presets (see Rhythm Patterns Table)
TEM Speed of rhythm (tempo) 40 to 200 beats per minute (default 120)
BASS Auto walking bass line Root (Off) / Walk (On)

Level section

This section allows to change the output level for the polyphonic mode, the bass, the chord and the rhythm.

Play section

Setting Values
KEY-MODE Music keyboard mode Normal, Split, Ensem(ble)
LH Keyboard mode for lower notes Bass in Split mode, Acomp(animent) in Ensemble mode
RH Keyboard mode for upper notes Polyphonic mode in all cases
SEN-MODE Multi-Sensor* mode Percus(sion), Rhypat (Rhythm Pattern),
Rhyedt (Rhythm Editor), Voice, Arpeg(gio), Chord
  • see below for details

Record section

Setting Values
LH Recording mode for lower notes in the computer RAM OFF, PLY (playback) or REC (recording)
RH Recording mode for upper notes in the computer RAM OFF, PLY (playback) or REC (recording)

Besides, the recording levels for the lower notes and the upper notes can be adapted.

Function section

Setting Values
TRANSPOSE Key transpose -12 to +12 (default value: 0)
TUNING Pitch tuning -7 to +7 (default value: 0)
VIB-DEPTH Vibrato Depth Off / On
SAVE-LOAD Data storage (Access to SAVE LOAD screen)

Save/Load screen

MSX Music-System
save/load screen

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

Here are the different possibilities:

Name Operation Cassette Disk
MUSIC (.MDT file on disk) Load performance data X X
Save performance data X X
KIll performance data - X
RHYTHM (.RDT file on disk) Load rhythm data X X
Save rhythm data X X
KIll rhythm data - X
SOUND (.SDT file on disk) Load voice data X X
FILES Files on disk - X


The Multi-Sensor is a special zone at the top of the Toshiba HX-MU901 music keyboard. Note that the Panasonic FS-MKB1 music keyboard does not have this feature, but the Multi-Sensor is partially emulated by the function keys F1 to F5 in the Panasonic version of the firmware.

According the mode selected in the Play section, the Multi-Sensor zone is differently divided and the display on the last line of the editor screen varies:

  • Percus(sion): BD (Bass Drum) - SD (Snare Drum) - TOM (Tom-tom) - CYM (Top Cymbal) - HH (Hi-Hat/Cymbals)
  • Rhypat (Rhythm Pattern): by default, the five following rhythm patterns are selected: 03 - 06 - 08 - 14 - 17 (see table below)
  • Rhyedt (Rhythm Editor): by default, it's like the Percus(sion) mode, but you can create your own rhythm patterns and assign them to a Multi-Sensor subzone
  • Voice: by default, the five following voices are selected: 03 - 12 - 22 - 36 - 63 (see table below)
  • Arpeg(gio) and Chord: 10 subzones instead of 5, as these modes allow to slide your fingers on the Multi-Sensor, using the 65 available voices, and producing one note (Arpeggio) or three notes (Chord) at a time

Voice Data Table

This utility has its own system of voices, 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.

Voice No. Name Abbrev. _VOICE No. Voice No. Name Abbrev. _VOICE No.
01 Violin 1 VN1 2 34 Saxophone SAX
02 Violin 2 VN2 45 35 Jazz Fkute JFL 36
03 Cello VC 36 Marimba MAR
04 Strings STR 37 Xylophone XYL 8
05 Acoustic Guitar AGT 10 38 Glockenspiel GSP
06 Electric Guitar EGT 39 Vibraphone VIB 16
07 Distortion Guitar DGT 40 Tubular Bell TBL
08 Electric Bass 1 EB1 12 41 Kalimba KAL
09 Electric Bass 2 EB2 42 Agog Bell ABL
10 Wood Bass WB 33 43 Steel Drum STD
11 Acoustic Piano 1 AP1 0 44 Koto KOT 17 or 39
12 Acoustic Piano 2 AP2 1 45 Shakuhachi SHH
13 Electric Piano EPF 32 46 Shamisen SHS 49
14 Harpsichord HPC 14 or 15 47 Biwa BIW
15 Celeste CEL 48 Harmonica HAM
16 Clavichord CLC 13, 37 or 38 49 Recorder REC
17 Electric Organ 1 EO1 9 50 Triangle TRG
18 Electric Organ 2 EO2 46 51 Accordion ACD
19 Pipe Organ 1 PO1 7 52 Reed Organ ROG
20 Pipe Organ 2 PO2 40 53 Harp HRP
21 Synth Bass SYB 23 54 Sitar SIT
22 Trumpet 1 TP1 6 55 Banjo BAN
23 Trumpet 2 TP2 56 Ukulele UKL
24 Horn HR 48 57 Toy Piano TYP
25 Trombone TRB 58 Music Box MB
26 Tuba TUB 59 Toy Box TYB
27 Flugelhorn FHR 60 Space Noise SPN
28 Brass BRS 35 61 Wave WAV
29 Piccolo PIC 62 Crash CRH
30 Flute FL 3 or 36 63 Wall Clock WCK
31 Clarinet CL 4 64 Typewriter TYW
32 Oboe OB 5 65 Tut TUT
33 Fagotto FG

Rhythm Patterns Table

This utility can use 20 rhythm patterns, regrouped by type and using abbreviations.

Pattern No. Name Abbrev. Pattern No. Name Abbrev.
01 Rock 1 RK1 11 Slow/Ballad SLB
02 Rock 2 RK2 12 * Shuffle 1 SF1
03 * Rock 3 RK3 13 * Shuffle 2 SF2
04 Rock 4 RK4 14 * Tango TAG
05 * Rock 5 RK5 15 * Bigin BIG
06 * March MAR 16 Funk 1 FK1
07 * Swing 1 SW1 17 Funk 2 FK2
08 * Swing 2 SW2 18 Fusion 1 FS1
09 * Waltz 1 WT1 19 Fusion 2 FS2
10 * Waltz 2 WT2 20 Non-Rhythm NRY
  • = can be used for auto walking bass line (Walk)

Useful keys

F1 to F5 Emulate Multi-Sensor on MSX keyboard (only in Panasonic version)
'Normal' keys Emulate music keyboard on MSX keyboard (only in Panasonic version)
Cursors Move arrow in the Menu, Editor and Save/Load screens
BS Select previous value for a specific parameter or access to Save/Load screen,
erase one character to the left of vertical arrow for NAME in Save/Load screen
DEL Select next value for a specific parameter or access to Save/Load screen
ESC Back to previous screen or stop the Name procedure on the Save/Load screen
HOME Edit rhythms patterns
INS Select previous value for a specific parameter or access to Save/Load screen
SELECT Activate one of these modes (according the selected parameter or value):
Auto Bass, Auto Rhythm, Playback, Recording in computer RAM
SHIFT + cursors Fast move in Editor screen
SHIFT + BS or SPACE Fast selection of value in Editor screen
SPACE Select option in Menu and Save/Load screens, next value for a specific
parameter or access to Save/Load screen
STOP Stop a feature activated by SELECT