Welcome Traveller. . .Before there was General MIDI, the Roland Sound Canvas, or "wavetable synthesis", there was a little-known MIDI music generator known as the Roland MT-32.
Way back in 1990, the Roland MT-32 and LAPC-1 (the MT-32 on an ISA card) were years ahead of their time. While everyone else was listening to Adlib FM-synthesized music which sounded like an electric razor being used as a kazoo, a lucky few who knew of the MT-32/LAPC-1 were enjoying music in supported games that rivals the General MIDI output of today's top of the line soundcards!
I still remember when I got my Roland LAPC-1 and tried Ultima VI. I had grown used to the electronic beeping and bonking of my Adlib card. When my Roland fired up I was absolutely blown away. For the next few years, all of the best games (including all Ultimas from VI until VIII) supported the Roland. . . until the advent of General MIDI and the dominance of Roland's new Sound Canvas synthesizer (used for Ultima Online and Ultima VIII: Pagan).
Well, no amount of writing will demonstrate the difference between what the lucky few experienced with Roland, and what the vast majority of users experienced with their Adlibs and Sound Blasters. So, here's a simple demonstration. Click on each MP3 below to hear the difference:
Roland MT-32/LAPC-1 Sample
If you are interested, there are a few good paragraphs about the evolution of MIDI and Roland MIDI cards (and the Roland LAPC-1 in particular) here.
The MP3s available below were digitally recorded directly from a Roland LAPC-1 card. Composers of game music of that era almost always worked with Roland equipment. Thereore, what you hear below represents the best possible recreation of what the composer intended the user to hear. You will be hearing the original music as originally composed for the best hardware of that era. . .
Ultima VI: The False Prophet
UPDATED February 20, 2003
Ultima VII: The Black Gate & Serpent Isle
Added February 21, 2003
Added February 11, 2007