FMOD vs. ThinkPad T42: BMM on Windows 7

How does Bleeper Music Maker, a program tailored more for systems running Windows XP and older, handle on a machine running Windows 7?

Bleeper Music Maker is a program that allows you to play music – either from notes or MIDI files – using the internal piezoelectric beeper found on most older PCs. For machines, like the T42, who lack this “beeper” – you can “emulate” the bleeper sound using FMOD.

You can learn more about BMM here by clicking here.

Bleeper Music Maker’s compatibility was maintained up to Windows XP. Trying to run the program on Windows 7 without changing any settings will just result in error messages. (I’m unsure of whether compatibility was maintained up to Vista.)

Getting it to work

However, there’s a workaround for getting it to work on Windows 7 and newer versions of Windows.

The first thing to do is to download and extract the files. Unlike a traditional program, BMM doesn’t require any “formal” installation. You just put it in a folder (what I call the “BMM folder”) and open the application (like a file) to run the program.

The Bleeper Music Maker (BMM) directory

However, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Now we’ll need to fix those pesky compatibility problems and the missing file.

Locate the “Fix DLL OCX” application file in the BMM folder. Right click on the file and choose “Properties.” Then choose the “Compatibility” tab. Select the “Run this program in compatibility mode” checkbox and select “Windows XP (Service Pack 3.)” Press “OK.”

Properties window with the correct settings

Now run the “Fix DLL OCX” file. It’s likely that your computer will ask you if its okay to run the file – just press “Yes.”

Now repeat the compatibility settings for the “Bleeper Music Maker” application file, setting it to “Windows XP (Service Pack 3)” as well.

Now you should be able to run BMM. If you open the file and tell your computer its okay to run the program, you should be welcomed with this beautiful sight:

Bleeper Music Maker main screen

If you were, congratulations! If not, it may be that the compatibility settings were not correctly entered or saved.

Features

Running FMOD

When I originally wrote the page mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was running BMM only on the XPavilion – the HP Pavilion running Windows XP. Therefore, I didn’t need to change compatibility settings. But the XPavilion also has a built-in piezoelectric beeper – which is what BMM is designed to use to output sound.

“Good.mid” playing using the XPavilion’s piezoelectric beeper

But there are times when you shouldn’t – or can’t – use this beeper. Perhaps you have a roommate or family members who get irritated by the squeal of the piezoelectric beeper.

Most new computers – and almost any laptop made – doesn’t have a piezoelectric speaker. For instance, all of my ThinkPads emit a synthesized tone through the built-in speaker for problems or the battery charge state.

But don’t fear – FMOD was designed to let you listen to the somewhat annoying sound of this beeper without having to annoy anyone around you.

To run FMOD, just simply check “Use FMOD to create the beep” option on the BMM main screen. If you have headphones or speakers plugged in and unmuted, you will hear a slightly different (but similar) beep sound coming from them. This window will also pop up:

BMM “FMOD Settings” window

Within the FMOD Settings window, you can change the waveform of the “beep” the program produces. From my experience, the default Square waveform produces the most accurate beep tone, but you can play around with this.

Listen to the file below to listen to the T42 produce an FMOD rendition of the William Tell Overture MIDI file.

William Tell Overture, produced using BMM on the IBM ThinkPad T42

MIDI with BMM

You can produce “BMM music” by using the on-screen music keyboard and producing your own sequence using the settings on the main screen. There are also pre-made sample sequences which you can load into BMM.

But, I’m not musically talented enough to produce my own music. So, I just go into my MIDI library and choose a file to play.

BMM has its own sequencer. Some files play really good on BMM, while others sound like a hot mess of beeps.

The built-in MIDI sequencer with BMM

Thoughts and Problems

BMM is a really cool piece of odd software to play around with, especially if you’re bored or into that annoying (but “retro”) beeping sound.

BMM is beta software that hasn’t been updated recently (March 2010), which means it is going to have some bugs and issues.

A major problem with BMM is that processor interrupts are extremely noticeable, especially on slower systems. When the processor works on another task, like opening a window or rendering a webpage, you will hear it as the notes stutter and slow.


Although I have tested Bleeper Music Maker on multiple computers with 
success, I do not guarantee it will be successful for you. I also assume no 
responsibility for potential errors or malicious content on the linked 
software.

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