This week is what I’ve been waiting for!
I’m a huge fan of people incorporating electronic audio concepts in conventional analogue music. This kind of exploration has been traditionally undertaken by Jazz based artists. In the 70’s they were some of the first artists to incorporate synthesised instrumentation with keyboards such as the Fender Rhodes and the Hammond B3 organ with rotating Leslie speaker.
This trend continued as the technology evolved, which resulted in the crossover of Jazz fusion artist Herbie Hancock to the synth world with his seminal 80’s synth-pop track Rockit. This was usually performed live using a Roland Keytar controller
In the 90’s, Weather Report keyboardist Josef Zawinul incorporated a lot of sampling and digital effects such as vocoding into his live ‘Zawinul World Syndicate’ ensemble tour, which to this date had the most impressive keyboard setup I’ve ever seen – 8 high end keyboards including a Korg M1 workstation, Clavia Nord Lead; Korg Prophecy monosynth, Sequential Circuits Prophet T8 synth; and Korg Triton workstation.I also counted 18 expression pedals!.
In the 2000’s, thanks to the increase in CPU power; electronic music which was usually generated on expensive and cumbersome hardware synthsisers has been virtualised to run on a desktop PC. This was a huge improvement over trying to incorporate dozens of hardware synths into a gig, but used to limit the potential for creative live performance, after all, what kind of idiot wants to drag out his entire desktop system to a live gig?
Yes, that’s me. The desktop tower is under the bench. I was running Cubase 5 with a Novation keyboard and a Yamaha WX5 wind controller. These fed in to either the Yamaha MU128 Tone generator under the monitor or could be switched (using the mouse) to use a VST.
Fortunately, in the last decade, laptop CPU power has come in line with desktop machines, so this debacle is no longer necessary. This has lead to a flourishing of new talent who can manipulate sound in real time using a laptop and a new generation of high tech but affordable hardware controllers, such as the Behringer BCR2000 and Ableton Push.
For the class exercise, I reused the Blinky sample from last week’s class and one of the synths I made earlier into a dub reggae style with a heavy synth bass part which had a lot of deep filter movement after playing around and mapping some LFO’s. delay feedback & eq’s to hardware controls.