Monsters of FM synthesis

On September 23, 2010, in creation, music, by holotape

I found this highly amusing:

Amusing not for the classic synstrumental Axel F., but for the cameo of one of my favourite synthesizers of all time, the Yamaha DX-7

I used to work at a musical instrument store just after high school that was full of used guitars and synths.  The owner would go to estate auctions and bring truckloads of weird and wacky instruments back to the store.  I would have to test them out and repair what I could, so we could resell them…often to me. :) (I still pine over the Micromoog he brought in with the broken filter)

One time Stephen (the owner) brought back nearly a dozen TX-802’s, the rackmount version of the DX7II.  I plugged them in and had to endure the horrible metallic BWANG! sounds coming out of them.  It brought back memories of playing DOOM and listening to the music played by my Sound Blaster 16’s OPL3 FM chip…which never sounded any good.

It wasn’t until a couple years later when I bought my Nord Modular (more raving about the NM in the future) that I began learning a bit more about the possibilities of FM synthesis.  Turned out the presets in the TX802’s I tested were the work of an amateur programmer.  Years after that I had the unique opportunity of being able to play with some of Brian Eno’s DX-7 patches, and my eyes were truly opened to what the beast could do.  I found one at Long & McQuade for cheap, and the rest is history.

Here is one of the first songs I recorded on my DX-7, it’s nothing to write home about…I’m not sure exactly how many years ago it was, but it was recorded in 16bit, so a few!  Everything except the kick, snare, and hats were DX-7.  I’m especially proud of the Simmons Tom sound.

holotape – bad dx7 (old demo)

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KORG DS-10

On September 21, 2010, in creation, music, by holotape

If you ever see a 29-year-old man on the subway playing a Nintendo DS, don’t automatically assume he’s playing Cooking Mama and lives in his parents’ basement.

He could be using the Korg DS-10, a moderately advanced synthesizer program which just happened to be released on a video game system.

Yes, that 29-year-old man could be me.  After learning about the program I bought myself a DS for the sole purpose of being able to create music on-the-go.  I had been wanting a Yamaha QY70 for years, but was never able to justify the high price tag for cheesy pcm sounds and a short battery life.  Anyway, the DS-10 is still rather restrictive, with only two dual-oscillator monosynths and a 4-part analog drum machine, but it’s fun.  A great sketchbook.

Sometimes inspiration hits while on public transit, and if you have to wait to get home to record it, it might be too late.

Here are a couple dynamically one-dimensional songs straight from the DS’s headphone jack.

holotape – nyf (ds demo)

holotape – last days of summer (ds demo)

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