Home ... FAQ ... Music ... Software ... Forums ... Articles ... Contact

Hotz MIDI Translator

The Ultimate MIDI Mapper

Hotz Translator Main screen

Hotz MIDI Translator

Jimmy Hotz (concept and scale creation)
Tom Bajoras (programmer: formally of Hybrid Arts)
with permission from the Hotz Corporation (DBA Accordance Music Systems)
Released as Freeware NOVEMBER 2001

Jimmy Hotz

In the late 1980's a certain Jimmy Hotz (pronounced like hots) was making the rounds in the music industry by introducing musicians to the wonders of MIDI, and in particular Atari computers. Fleetwood Mac, Members of Yes and Tangerine Dream as well as BB King and the Pointer Sisters were just a few of his clients. However he had an idea in his head that evolved into what is now called Translator Technology. From this initial idea came software and also a special hardware controller called the Hotz Box which ran in tandem with the software.

Eventually, the Hotz corporation was formed and is presently called Accordance Music Systems, in which the Translator Technology is continuing to evolve.See Link Section.

Hotz Translator


The concept is you can layer the keyboard into ZONES. One Zone controls chords that you can assign to any key in the LOWER part of the keyboard. So all you have to do is use one finger to trigger the chord. Normally on the Hotz Box, this would be a PAD that you trigger off.

The UPPER zone is for scales for which you have 128 to choose from. So whatever chords you trigger in the LOWER keyboard, you will be in perfect tune to it when playing the UPPER part of the keyboard. So you could literally play like a virtueso. You could play a pattern in the UPPER part, switch chords on the LOWER part and the pattern is transposed to the same key as the chord.You could call it an EXPERT SYSTEM as Laurie Spiegel would say.You can basically play in any key just by changing your chord.It takes a bit of re-thinking on what you are playing however.The results can be very rewarding.

I also use the Translator to process the "left hand" apps like running Music Mouse or M, or Tunesmith thru it for some interesting results. With Music Mouse, it gives me 128 more scales to play the mouse with instead of the 8 or so scales within Music Mouse itself

The Translator software works in ST HI res and also ST Medium res (color). It is compatable with 030 machines such as the TT030 and Falcon as well as regular ST machines. You will need at least one meg of Ram.

The Hotz Box

Tim playing the Hotz Box

As mentioned a special MIDI Controller was created and manufactures by ATARI itself which worked in tandem with the Hotz MIDI translator software. The keys are flat membrame pads. One has a "regular" piano keyboard layout with other pads going horizontally and vertically. The side set of pads are usually used to trigger off chords which in turn the other horizontal layots are used to generate scales in tune with the chords. These areas are called ZONES which can be represented on a Piano style MIDI controller as well.

 The Hotz Box

Given the nature of the controller with no moving "keys" you can perform lightning fast movements that would be near impossable on a regular keyboard.The unit is extremely fast, with 10 parallel processors collecting and merging the data that you are "playing" on the keyboard. The multiple parallel processors result in fast operation. Having been given the opportunity to try it out myself, I have found the Hotz box very satisfiying to my playing style. You do not need to hammer the keys but can press very lightly as it is still very touch sensitive. I also find it easy to play percussivly, as they feel like drum machine pads as well, and can also be used to play percussion voices very effectivly.It is also easy to accomplish strumming techniques. When used with an acoustic guitar or dulcimar sound, the strumming effect can be very realistic. Using a sustain pedal when using the strumming technique can create beautiful effects that have to be heard to be appreciated.

See the Hotz Box Photo Gallery with pics supllied by Joe Ruszkowski
The Hotz Box Photo Gallery


A Tutorial by Tim Conrardy

Getting Started

Depending if you are using the A drive version or the Hard Drive version, double click on the XLATOR.PRG which opens up the Translator software to the main screen. You will see the default files load as well.You should see in the top right corner of the screen under SETUP the words EXOTIC1 for both the UPPER and LOWER fields.

To get some instant gratisfaction, play your MIDI keyboard in the upper part of the keyboard. You should hear a pentatonic major scale. Now press the second lowest key on your MIDI keyboard. You should hear a chord. Then play the upper part of your MIDI keyboard. You will hear a different scale. Going up chromatically on the lower part of your keyboard, you should see the software display the chord type and when playing the upper portion of your MIDI keyboard, you should hear the correspoding scales. This particular setup is of course EXOTIC, as it demonstrates some of the more unusual scale structures that are available in the system.

To hear some of the other "setups" available in the default files, you can do so by selecting the FUNCTION keys on the Atari keyboard: F1 to F10. Also selecting CONTROL and a function key will go to the next set of setups. Hitting SHIFT and the FUNCTION keys will go to the next set of setups. To scroll thru the scales and chords available in the setups, select the top number keys as well as the qwerty keys. Just going through these setups along with the corresponding scales will provide plenty of exploration and fun as well.

Creating SETUPS

One of the main functions of the Translator software is in creating your own setups for use with your own songs or compositions. This involves picking a chord and scale as well as the root key to go with them.

You can do this in several ways, as there are three different screens to do so.

1.Going to GLOBAL in the menu will present MAIN SCREEN, BANK SCREEN and OVERVIEW SCREEN. Lets go into each of these to see what they look like.

Hotz Translator Bank Screen

2. Going into BANK SCREEN will show all the different scale types available as well as the scales being used. Clicking into a scale name will bring up the Scale Dialog in which you can choose a great many selection of scales. You will be hard pressed to exhaust the use of this collection (or library) of scales. Clicking on one will enable you to audition the scale with your MIDI keyboard.Clicking OK will replace the scale that was previuosly there in the setup. You can also click into any of the scales names in the bank screen and choose your scales that way.

3.To choose what key the scale will be in,click on the letter to the left or right of the scale name ( example: C &Oriental/C ): Clicking on C in the example will bring up another dialog to pick your Key or Root note.When you do this, the Bank Screen changes to the key/root notes view.You can also choose your keys /root notes here as well.

Hotz Translator Overview Screen

4. Go into GLOBAL again and choose OVERVIEW SCREEN. You are presented with a representation of a Hotz Box, and can actually be played like one by using the mouse. So you could also look at this as an alternate Mouse Controller much in the same manner as Music Mouse or Quaderno.

5.Try this: Go to OPTIONS on the menu and click on OVERVIEW NOTES. The note names will appear on the music keyboard graphic. Clicking on the keyboard section will actually highlight the notes being used.

6. As in BANK VIEW, you can change your scales and Key/root notes by clicking on the scale names and keys.

7. As this is a representation of a Hotz Box, clicking into the side vertical coloumns will enable you to program which chords/ scale combination will be triggered when you hit this corresponding key on the LOWER part of your MIDI keyboard. These are called ZONES in Translator terminology.

8. Go to GLOBAL on the menu again and go back to the first screen which is MAIN SCREEN. All the above applies as well, with other options such as MIDI channel assign in the OUT collumn which will enable you to program different sounds for each ZONE on your MIDI keyboard.

The idea is to create a chord progression that you can use in your composition. Begin by selecting the last key of the lower part of your keyboard. This will be the location of the first chord. Select the type of Chord/scale and key you want using the above techniques.Then go Chromatically up to the next key on your MIDI keyboard. Repeat the procedure by selecting the Chord /scale /keynotes you want. Go up another chromatic note. Repeat procedure. Keep on going until you have enough chord/scale combinations to create your song. Now when you select any of the lower keys on your MIDI keyboard and play in the upper part of the keyboard, everything will be in perfect tune with each other. You can't hit a wrong note, unless you programmed it that way!

Hotz Translator Setup Screen


Clicking into SETUP At the Top right corner of the Main Screen will bring you to the SETUPS dialog. You will see a list of 32 setups with two at the bottom with the U and L locations. These particular locations are the BUFFERS. All the experimentation you just did in creating your own chords/scales and key note combinations are stored in this temporary buffer. To actually put them into the setup is easy. First, you can NAME your new setup by simply clicking into the U feild, hitting ESC which clears the field, and typing a new name for the setup. To STORE the setups, RIGHT CLICK into the name. You will see the field 'flashing'. Now drag it to a new location in the setup dialog. Do the same for the L field. The U and L stand for Upper and Lower. Notice these are in pairs in the setup dialog. Keep to the same format when dragging your new setups into the setup dialog. When you are done, hit EXIT.

Now to SAVE your setup. Go to FILE on the menu and select SAVE TO DISC. You are given a wide choice on the different file saving extensions available (which makes for a very flexable system ) For this operation however, select SETUPS. The file selector appears. Give your setup an appropriate name, and it is saved. You could also save under ALL, which is everything.

This covers some of the basic operation of the software and will keep you exploring for a good long time.

Hotz Logo

The Hotz MIDI Translator concept was ahead of it's time, and now has come full circle with the Atari version release. Accordance Music Systems is also making the PC version available, which is an extension of the Atari version with many refinements. If you have tasted what can be done by using this version, I would greatly encourage you to try the next enhancement of the Translator technology.

Ways musicians can use the Translator

1. To explore different scale relationships and patterns within the chosen scale. Although this is not primarily what Translator is about, it gives the musician an entire library of scales to explore which will expand his known musical universe. Also Ethnic scales can be explored opening up new revenues to world music that would be hard to realize in a traditional way.

2. Creating SONGS with structured chord progressions along with a scale that goes along with the chords so no wrong notes can be heard. This was the main idea in mind with Translator technology. An EXPERT system.

3. An Accomplaniment system in which there is a library of know "styles" which one can play to and get instant gratisfaction from actually playing to it with little or no musical background.

4. A musical analysis system in which to take apart and examine musical structures. A learning tool for the musicologist.

5.The ability to create avant guard and experimental music that is not main stream at all, but can call up at the touch of your MIDI keyboard strange worlds and sound structures as well as futuristic patterns.

6.The ability to create main-stream POP music in a short space of time and have it sound good.

The uses for this software are many. Simply using it to explore different ethnic tunings and combinations or using it as a song creation tool are just a few examples of what can be done with this system, which could not have been possable without the use of computer technology. Using tools such as this can enhance the way we think about music in general as well as bringing us to a new level of understanding.

The original manual was done on CALAMUS (a DTP program for Atari) and was quite extensive. Jimmy Hotz is now searching for these particular discs, so perhaps the complete documentation may become available. In the meantime, please feel free to print out this page as a primary documentation as it describes the main operations of the program. Note: there is no documentation in the ZIPS. As time goes on, I will try to add more to these pages as far as instruction. However, you have more then enough to get you started on this wonderful system. Experimentation is the key !


With the PC and Atari releases of the Hotz MIDI Translator technology, I decided to create a forum on Yahoo Groups. Questions are welcome and I will do my best to answer them, or just plain discussion on translator techniques.

Go here to join:
The Hotz MIDI Translator Forum

Here is the description:


Welcome to the Hotz MIDI Translator Forum. The Translator technology was created by Jimmy Hotz in the late 1980's and is continued today by Accordance Music Systems. This forum is for discussion of the PC as well as the Atari Translator system. For those lucky enough to have Hotz Boxes(Controllers for the original Atari software)techniques can be discussed in using this instrument with the software. Since the Translator system can be complicated or as easy as you want, questions are welcome.


Jimmy Hotz and Tim Conrardy at NAMM 2004

Jimmy Hotz and Tim Conrary at NAMM 2004

When visiting NAMM 2004, I was able to set up a brief meeting with Jimmy Hotz. We met at the Hilton lobby next to the NAMM convention hall. Had a great talk in which he remeninced about working with the Hotz box and Paul Hasslinger ( Ex-Tangerine Dream ) as well as his prevous NAMM experiences.We had a great exchange and it was a real pleasure meeting him.


Go here for the download


Download and License Agreement Page

Here is an explanation of the ZIPS:

ahotz_a.zip : Atari Hotz Translator for A Drive use only

This is for those that only have a floppy drive system and no Hard Drive. It is different then the hard drive version because you cannot fit all the files onto a "regular" 720K disc, so all the default files at the same level as the xlator.prg. The INF file is also for A drive. This is to be unzipped without folders onto the root directory of a 720K disc for use with these systems.


For Monochrome Monitor users:

For Color Monitor Users:

This will create the correct space to be able to fit the Translator files onto a 720K Dos-formatted disc. If you have both monitors, you can create two discs with the correct configurations.


ahotz_d.zip : Atari Hotz Translator for D drive use.

This is for Hard Drive Users with the INF file for D Drive. All the folders are intact as in the original version. The folder called "HOTZ " can be unzipped right onto the hard drive partition D.

There is also a version for use in the Atari emulator for PC-WIN called Steem. The file is called HOTZ.st for use in Steem's virtual A drive. Drop this file in the A drive folder in your Steem installation.


The Hotz Box Photo Gallery
Translator Page at Jimmy Hotz.com

Hotz Box Info and Pics

Info on Jimmy Hotz

A Hotz Box Site with Pics and Info

Tim Conrardy's Midi Files created using the Hotz Translator