I have been playing with a Synclavier Regen for a little over two weeks now. I posted two quick bits of music using sounds I created on it over a period of about a week. Anyway, I am ready to give my first impressions of this impressive instrument.
I am going to divide this post into three main parts. The first will be a bit of history, the second a very quick description of the synth engine, and the last will be my impressions. At the bottom, perhaps a fourth section, I will put some recordings, starting with the first two I made, but others may be added later.
Oh, and here is one now, which will also be at the bottom. It is an atmospheric song. You can listen while you read the rest of the post.
Over the weekend I wrote and posted a new song (what’s new ;) ). I pretty much improvised a few lyrics in the middle section (more about it later), but I don’t think my singing is as cringe worthy as some I’ve posted… Anyway, without further ado:
The story for this is that I was playing with a few string synth sounds. Yes, I love string synth sounds and have “collected” quite a few. I had three new ones I wanted to test in a real world setting out of this world/spacey, Pink Floyd influenced soundscape. The first sound you hear, which is also the “stabs” in the center section, is an attempt to get real close to 1970’s String Synths. The second sound, I just called “Shimmers”, and you should hear those little shimmering tones through the long held chords. The third, which I have used in a recording once before, is a sound influenced by something I heard from an Oberheim OB-Xa. I use it here mostly to thicken the sound. OK, at one point I didn’t think it was thick enough, so I added a “big organ’s bass pedal” sound – I think you can hear the rumble at about 45 seconds in when it enters.
I recorded a new song the other day and put up a video. I think the animation I made for it is pretty cool – watch for the animation! Anyway, it is only two minutes long and I do not sing. Yea, no awful voice! So here it is, just a quick ditty:
I was playing around with my music gear on Friday. At one point I decided to try to recreate a bass sound similar to the Arp Odyssey bass sounds that I like on my Prophet Rev 2. Listen to the beginning of the video in my review of the Korg version of the Odyssey to hear what I am talking about. Anyway, I came up with a sound I like, then changed it ;) Playing with my new sound, I soon had a little bass line that I liked. I decided to record it so I could figure out something to play with it.
I just posted a new video. Yeah, after several months of nothing I am doing a new one every two weeks or so… This one is in ways an extended synth solo, similar to For Her Heartbreak (see blog post here). Anyway, here is the video so you can listen while I talk about it:
Similar to the recent The New Year’s Song *, I was playing with the acoustic percussion instruments, my new cajon, tambourine and cabasa. I also put in an electronic drum sound from my Prophet Rev 2. Most of the sounds on this are the Rev 2 except those percussion instruments I mentioned and the solo. I used the minimoog clone, the Behringer Poly-D for the solo.
(*Note about This compared to The New Year’s Song – TNYS is a real song with what I think is a catchy melody. This is a quick jam.)
Two of the photos of Tiberius on my mixer (one also used at top of page) are new and he is on my new mixer while the photo at the end is over a year old and he is on my old mixer. He does look more like a kitten in that old photo! And he no longer wears a collar.
In a post last week I said that I was working on a new song. Well, I finished it over the weekend. It started with a little part I wanted to record so that I would remember it. From there it turned into a real pop song. Yeah, with words and everything!
A few quick comments before I turn you lose with this. Although parts of this recording are “finished”, this is very much just a quick demo, or, if this were one of my stories, this is a rough, first draft (don’t worry – if you have read a story on my blog, it was a rough draft….). I can hear many things I will change if I decided do this a little more seriously. And I might.
I have had the Behringer Poly D analog synthesizer for a couple of months now and have done a major project, so I want to do a quick review of it. First, as always, I need to give a quick history lesson. Why? The Poly D is a Minimoog clone (sort of, in a way…).
(Skip to the review if you don’t want to read all of this. Demos and videos are at the bottom. Though maybe play the top demo as you read…)
The Minimoog was released in 1970 and was the first synthesizer that you could pick up in a normal retail music store. It was one of the earliest synthesizers aimed at stage musicians and was extremely popular. Even though Moog soon had a lot of competition in the portable synth market, such as the EMS Synthi (used by Pink Floyd*) and the different Arps (used by many, including Genesis), the Mini was so huge that most people used the terms “Moog” and “Synthesizer” synonymous. And it did find its way into pop, rock, r&b, dance, jazz and beyond through the 70s. Even in the 80s, it was the main synth on the Thriller album and was used by most of the early Technopop bands. In the 90s it helped create the emerging electronica and electronic dance music.
In other words, the Minimoog is one of the most iconic synthesizers of all times.
One of my recent projects has been recording JS Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor with a synthesizer. I will post the video here in case you you want to hear it but don’t want to read about it. Be aware that I did a few fumbles, but I think overall it worked well.
Last week I worked on a little music project, arranging and recording an electronic version of Henry Purcell’s great aria Dido’s Lament (technically it is named “When I am laid in Earth” but everyone knows it as “Dido’s Lament”) .
Quick back story – Henry Purcell was a 17th century English composer and is regarded as one of the greatest English composers of all times (until he 20th century, no other English born composer compared since Handle was not born in England). One of his most famous works was the opera Dido and Aeneas, based on the Aeneid.
After escaping the downfall of Troy, Aeneas ends up in Carthage. Dido, the queen of Carthage, falls in love. He would happily spend the rest of his life there, but destiny calls; he has to found Rome, you know. So he leaves, and Dido commits suicide.
The opera ends in three pieces: a recitative to introduce the aria, the aria itself, and then a choral part in all of its Baroque counterpoint glory. The recitative (Thy hand, Belinda) is often performed with the aria while the chorus isn’t, but to me the chorus caps it all off greatly… But that aria, called Dido’s Lament, is what most people know.
Have you ever taken a music appreciation class (talking Western Classical music here)? If so, you most likely have heard this before. It does a great job of demonstrating a few Baroque techniques, such as ground bass (that part you hear from beginning to end). It is also often called one of the saddest songs in Western Classical music.
I picked up a Sequential (DSI) Prophet Rev 2 polyphonic analog synthesizer a couple of weeks ago. After two weeks of playing, I decided to make a recording and talk about it.
First a few terms. “Analog” means that the sound is created by electronics as a continuous electrical signal which is then manipulated by other electronics. I know,obtuse, but that definition is a contrast with “digital”, which means the sound is created and manipulated by a computer. Most of the first commercial synthesizers were analog.
I said it was a polyphonic synthesizer (poly-synth). In this case “polyphonic” means more than one note can be played at once, sort of like a piano, with each note being distinct. The distinct note is called a “voice” – my Prophet Rev 2 is an 8 voice synthesizer (16 voice Rev 2s exist – more about this later). The way this works is that each voice is played by a completely different synthesizer! In the late 1970s, Dave Smith perfected a way for a computer to store values for a synthesizer so that all of the different voices (synthesizers) could have the same sound though the user only has to set up the sound once (one set of controls). It also let the user save sounds. This instrument was the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5. It helped to revolutionist the music industry and, actually, music itself.