BEEP length, pitch [,pitch_2, grd_x, grd_y [,wrap [,fuzz [,rndom ]]]] or




This command allows you to access the QL’s rather poor sound generation chip. It can be extremely difficult to use this command, and a lot of trial and error will generally be needed before you can find anything similar to the sound you are after.

BEEP without any parameters will turn off the sound altogether. You must also be aware of the fact that as soon as a BEEP command is encountered, the QL will cancel the current sound and emit the new one (whether or not the earlier sound had finished).

Each of the various parameters have different ranges and different effects on the sound produced:

  • length This specifies the duration of the sound in 72 microsecond units (there are one million microseconds in a second). A length of zero means emit the sound until another BEEP command is encountered. The range is 0…32767 (a value of 32767 lasts for approximately 2.36 seconds).

  • pitch This affects the tone of the sound produced. The allowable range is 0…255. A pitch of 0 is the highest which can be produced, ranging to 255 which is the deepest tone. The purity of the sound will be affected if any other parameters are specified.

  • pitch_2 This represents a second pitch level, which will have no effect if the tone is the same (or higher) than pitch. If however, the value of this parameter is higher (the tone is lower) than that of pitch, this specifies a range between which the sound can ‘bounce’ by use of the next two parameters, creating a sequence of notes (the length of the sequence will depend on the length parameter).

  • grd_x Assuming that the BEEP command is now being used to produce a sequence of notes, this parameter specifies the time interval (in 72 microsecond units) of each note in the sequence. The permitted range is again 0…32767. Larger time intervals make each note in the sequence more distinct (low values tend to produce just buzzing).

  • grd_y This parameter specifies the step between each note in the sequence. This must be in the range 0…15. However, this may make more sense if the correct range was said to be -7..8.

    A value of zero produces no step - you are returned to a single note again.

    A value between 1 and 7 means that each note will be that many pitches below the last one (unless that would bring the pitch below pitch_2).

    A value of 8 makes the BEEP command fit as many notes into the sequence (in the range) as possible.

    Values of 9 to 15 (or -7 to -1) mean that each note will be that many pitches above the last one (these correspond to the values 7 to 1 respectively), unless this would bring the pitch above pitch. When the top or bottom of the range pitch to pitch_2 is reached, the step direction is reversed to cause the sound to ‘bounce’.

  • wrap If this parameter is specified, the range of notes between the two pitch parameters will be repeated the specified number of times before the step direction is altered. The range for this parameter is 0..15.

    The last note in the range will not be sounded, but will appear as the first note in the opposite direction.

  • fuzz This affects the purity of each note, by blurring its sound. The effective range is 8…15, with a value of 15 producing an awful buzz.

  • rndom This parameter allows you to specify a certain amount of ‘randomness’ which is to be added to each note.

    The effective range is once again 8…15, with the given value being used to alter from how far away from the original sequence the QL can pick a note. The higher the value, the more random notes appear in the sequence.


BEEP 0,20,40,10070,2

will keep sounding every other note between 20 and 40 moving down and then up the scale.

BEEP 0,20,30,10070,2,1

will sound the notes in the following sequence 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 30, 28, 26,….


On all ROMs if you set a very high pitch value, the QL finds it very difficult to read the keyboard. BEEP 0,0 and BEEP 0,1 will make typing rather difficult.


Unless used on a THOR XVI, BEEP does not enter the QL into supervisor mode and therefore if BASIC is trying to use BEEP whilst a task is loaded or unloaded, then the system is likely to crash!


BEEP does not do anything on ST/QLs or the Amiga-QDOS Emulator (pre v3.23).


The pitch of the sound is actually shifted on QLs by different values of length, fuzz and rndom. The length of the sound is also somewhat dependent on the pitch! Both of these problems are however fixed by the replacement co-processor Hermes.


BEEPING allows you to check if a sound is currently being emitted.

PAUSE allows you to specify a time interval during which the computer will wait (allowing you to play much longer notes).