M 2.8 is a Mac OS X version of a program first published by Intelligent Music in 1987. In the 1980s, M ran on four different computer platforms (Mac, Windows, Atari, and Amiga), and had many fans all over the world.
M was quite different from any other music software when it first appeared, but many musicians and composers were attracted to its powerful implementation of the idea of interactive composition, where you shape the music as you hear it unfold. M 2.8 features compatibility with OS X Core MIDI so you can use it to power the software synthesizers that sound great but are always need of better material.
M's main screen is designed to be a musical control panel that lets you do many things simultaneously while giving you a visual overview of all of the program's operations.
There are six windows in the main screen. Each window contains a particular grouping of controls, and the controls in all of the windows are interrelated as different parts of the same musical process. All of M's main screen windows are always active so that you can use any control whenever you like.
The Patterns Window contains four rows of controls for creating and managing Patterns. A Pattern, in M, is a collection of notes that can be transformed in a variety of ways. The Patterns Window also contains some controls for managing Voices. A Voice in M is a "path" through the program that begins with a Pattern.
The Conducting Window (Untitled in the picture above) contains controls that allow you to affect the operations of the whole program. You can change certain aspects of the program's operation in the Conducting Grid; you can start and stop the music, change the tempo, and do lots of other things that we'll describe later in this manual.
The Variables Window contains controls that allow you to transform M's Voices. A Variable in M is a category of transformation. In the Variables Window, you can change note ordering, transposition, texture, and density; you can introduce rhythmic "feel"; and you can set MIDI velocity ranges. You can also choose between different groups of Patterns that you've created.
The Cyclic Variables Window contains controls that allow you to establish cyclic variation for note durations, legato-staccato articulations, and accents.
The Midi Window contains controls that allow you to direct your Voices' outputs to different MIDI channels and to send program (patch) change numbers to your synthesizers.
The Snapshot Window (with the Camera icon) contains controls that allow you to store and recall groups of other screen controls. You can also record and play back sequences of Snapshots, which we call Slideshows.