Studio FM
This page was last modified 18:12, 7 December 2021 by Mars2000you. Based on work by Gdx and Grauw.
Studio FM - Main menu



Studio FM is a MSX-MUSIC song editor, created by Falco Dam and Ivo Wubbels. It was released in 1991 by the Dutch MSX-Engine team. The full version requires to boot the computer while pressing the CTRL key.

It uses patterns to reduce wasted space and combines MSX-MUSIC with PSG for the drums. It has been inspired both by the Notator utility on Atari ST (without the MIDI part) and the musics from the games of the Japanese Microcabin company.

This utility includes

  • a few songs created in the Studio FM format by Loek van Kooten
  • two replay drivers for the songs in this format
    • SFMDRV1.BIN that adds new BASIC instructions - see StudioFM BASIC
    • SFMDRV2.BIN that is more conceived for machine language programs
  • six voice libraries with a total of 193 voices and possibly a maximum of 240 voices (libraries 1 to 4 contain each 40 voices, library 5 contains 33 voices, library 6 is empty)


  • An external MSX-MUSIC soundchip is not detected by Studio FM or the SFMDRV2.BIN driver, although there is no problem with the SFMDRV1.BIN driver.
  • Extensions of this utility with support for SCC, PCM and MSX-AUDIO were planned, but have never been released.


Studio FM includes three editors to compose music. You can access them from the main menu. All editors have a help menu (access with the GRAPH key).

A disadvantage of these three editors is that you don't have a complete overview when you are composing a song. However, the F5 function key allows to send to the printer screendumps with the content of the current displayed screen.

Music pattern editor

Studio FM - Music pattern editor
Studio FM - List of instruments
Studio FM - List of voices (example)

The screen of the music pattern editor is divided in 3 parts:

  • the first part contains 4 values: SUStain (ON or OFF), OCTave (1 to 8), VOLume (01 to 15), INStrument (00 to 15)
  • the second part allows to insert the musical notes and the pauses (rests)
  • the third part allows to select a Voice

"Instrument" refers to the 15 hardware MSX-MUSIC instruments + "Original" voice while 'Voice" refers to the voice data loaded in memory from the disk menu, giving the OPLL values for each of these data. The instrument needs to be 00 when you use voice data, otherwise the specified instrument will be used.

It is also possible to rename the voices and modify their OPLL values. You can create a maximum of 64 music patterns.

Four function keys can be used here. The "Copy pattern" feature can be used to copy a pattern to another pattern or a series of patterns, the copy can be (N)ormal copy, (R)est copy or (T)ranspose copy.

Rhythm pattern editor

Studio FM - Rhythm pattern editor

The screen of the rhythm pattern editor is divided in 2 parts:

  • the first part allows to insert the drums and the pauses (rests)
  • the second part is optional, it's for changing the volume of the drums

The rhythm pattern editor is provided with 10 drums, you can create a maximum of 42 rhythm patterns.

Five function keys can be used here. The "Copy pattern" feature has an option to convert to rest. Testing the provided drums can be done with F3.

Sequence editor

Studio FM - Sequence editor

The sequence editor allows to assembly patterns to create a song, while checking the global result, a specific voice or the rhythm.

Names can be given to the music and rhythm patterns to make your work easier.

Four function keys can be used here. Pattern names can be toggled with F3.

Help menus

Studio FM - Help for music editor
Studio FM - Help for rhythm editor
Studio FM - Help for sequence editor

Other options of the main menu

Clear all

This option allows to clear all the data in the different Studio FM editors.

Disk menu

Studio FM - Disk menu
Studio FM - Load submenu
Studio FM - Save submenu

The disk menu gives access to 2 submenus and allows to format the disk inserted in the active drive.

Studio FM uses the following types of files:

  • PAT - one pattern (music or rhythm)
  • APT - all pattern data
  • MUS - song in the FAC Soundtracker 1 format
  • SFM - music data
  • VOC - voice data

The Load submenu includes an option to load a song in the FAC Soundtracker 1 format, it will be internally converted, you can eventually modify it, then save it in the Studio FM format with the 'Save musicdata' option of the Save submenu.

To improve an existing Studio FM song, you need to load a pattern data (APT) file. The SFM files seem to be compressed versions of the APT file, focused on specific songs.


  • Studio FM is not compatible with songs in the FAC Soundtracker 2 format.
  • Some SFM music files have the MUS extension. It is not recommended as it creates confusion with the FAC Soundtracker 1 format.


Studio FM - Settings

Access to the settings is possible with the SELECT key.

You can here customize the colors of the utility by modifying the RGB values, then save them with F1.

Useful keys

F1 Play pattern (in pattern editors), play music (in sequence editor),
show current directory (in disk menu), save settings (in settings menu)
F2 Change pattern (in patterns editors), play voice (in sequence editor)
F3 Copy pattern (in music pattern editor), hear drum (in rhythm pattern editor),
toggle names (in sequence editor)
F4 Copy pattern (in rhythm pattern editor)
F5 Screendump
Cursors Change cursor position
A to G
Specifify a note from the scale (in music pattern editor)
* <halftone> = + for increasing, - for decreasing halftone
* <length>=1 to 32
* <slide> to next note = &
Specifify a pause or rest (in pattern editors)
* <length>=1 to 32
* <slide> to next note = & (only in music pattern editor)
T Change tempo in sequence editor (0 to 63)
0 to 9
Select drums to be played (in rhythm patttern editor)
* the number is automatically replaced by a 3-letter abbreviation
*<length>=1 to 32
+ or - Change pitch in sequence editor (-7 to +7)
CTRL + cursors Move 8 notes or sequence at once
CTRL + D Remove one note or sequence
CTRL + I Insert one note or sequence
DEL Remove last input
ESC Back to previous screen or main menu
GRAPH Access to help (in the editors)
HOME Move to begin/end of pattern (in pattern editors) or to begin of music
(in sequence editor)
RETURN Repeat last input (in the editors) or launch loading of selected file
(in disk menu)
SELECT Access to settings menu
SHIFT + cursors Move by length to next note (in pattern editors)
SHIFT + HOME Clean whole pattern
SPACE Stop current playing action

Usage of Studio FM musical files

Is it possible to play these musics in Studio FM?

Unfortunaly, it's not possible to load SFM files in the application.

However, if the corresponding APT files are available, you can follow this procedure:

  • select the Disk option in the main menu
  • select Load data
  • select Load patterndata
  • choose an APT file with the cursors and load it with RETURN
  • press ESC to go back to the main menu
  • select Sequence editor
  • press F1 to play the song

How to use these musics as background for other applications?

Use StudioFM BASIC - see especially the example on the CALL MPLAY page

Is there a nice graphical replayer for these musics?

Yes, it's the Spectrum Analizer released by Hegega - see Spectrum Analizer.

Unfortunaly, this replayer is buggy, some Studio FM songs provoke the freezing of the spectrum analizer or are not recognized as valid Studio FM songs. For this reason, it's recommended to mention only one song on line 90.