Today begins “NAMM 2021”. NAMM is the “National Association of Music Merchants”. Each year they hold two Expos — “Winter NAMM” in January and “Summer NAMM” around June or July. The Winter version is typically held in California and the Summer version in Tennessee. Each Event occupies the Meeting Rooms of several very large Hotels. This year’s “Winter NAMM”, however, is “virtual” / online-only.
Both NAMM Events are aimed at Music Manufacturers and Music Retailers. This particular NAMM-happening is also open to the General Public and it’s free. Simply visit the NAMM website (link below) and Register.
Music gear manufacturers should be releasing new products all this week and will probably be dripped-out over the next few days. Today, though, two Synthesizers caught my attention. Both are from Korg:
Here’s the link to an article about the new version:
The other Synthesizer that caught my attention today is the “ARP 2600 M”.
Although I’m a Drummer, I also consider myself a “Synthesist”. I enjoy creating all types of sounds and I was attracted to Synthesizers shortly after they were widely available to the General Public, in the early 70s.
I like exploring all the possibilities a Synthesizer has to offer and, even though the miniKORG 700 was my first synth, I quickly discovered its limitations. As I started thinking about replacing it, I kept hearing a fantasticly-rich sound, in the many Rock, Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock songs I listened to every day. Doing some research (with no “Internet” at that time), I learned that this wonderful Synthesizer was the “MiniMoog”. So I saved up my money once again, sold the miniKORG 700 and purchased a MiniMoog. At that time, it cost me $1,495.
It took me quite a bit longer to feel the limitations of the MiniMoog but its sounds were some of the richest I have ever interacted with. Even today.
Many months later, I saw a photo of an “ARP 2600”. It was love at first sight. I just saw a sea of Sliders. Lots and lots of Sliders. It’s potential looked limitless. Especially compared to the MiniMoog. Ring Modulation, Sample & Hold and Patch Points were the biggest attractions for me.
So I saved my money once again, sold the MiniMoog and bought a used ARP 2600. It was the "all-black, with white markings" version. I think I paid about $600 for it at that time (mid 70s).
Here’s the link to an article on today’s release of the “ARP 2600 M”:
Here’s the direct link to the NAMM website, to learn more about what’s happening this week:
Here's a link to a 21-minute video where Synthesist, Lisa Bella Donna, compares 6 Moog Synthesizer models:
In the early 70s, when I was still in High School, I bought my first Synthesizer. A "Univox K1", which was also produced as the "Mini-Korg" and "Mini-Korg 700" and a few other names.
Although I'm a Drummer, I enjoy the nearly-endless sounds that can be produced by Synthesizers. The biggest aspect of the Univox K1 was its Filer, which Korg called the "Traveller". Whenever I swept that Filter, it produced some very rich Harmonics. This was a whole new world of sonic textures for me and I wanted more!
The more I immersed myself in the world of Pop Rock, Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal, Funk, etc., I kept hearing those sweeping Filter sounds as well as other textures that I just couldn't create with the Univox K1.
Then I learned about the existence of the Synthesizer which changed Rock Music forever, the "Minimoog". Of course, I HAD to have one!
Because I was still in High School and living at home with my Parents, I had LOTS of time to explore everything the Minimoog had to offer.
After a time, I found myself continually creating the same Patches (Sounds) with the Minimoog. I was getting increasingly frustrated with its limitations. Then I heard about a Synthesizer called the "ARP 2600". When I saw photos of it in magazines, I was instantly caught in its Spell. I could see that it had unlimited potential for Sound creation.
Sylvia and I don't really like to buy "used" equipment, for different reasons. The main reason is that we can sometimes feel the old energies which may still be attached to them. However, even though I was now in College, I still couldn't afford the price of a "new" ARP 2600. So I bought one, used, from a nearby store. It was the Black & White one, seen above. After getting Married, for the first time, I had to sell it. However, many years later, afterMarrying Sylvia, we heard that the ARP company was going out of business. I explained to Sylvia that the ARP 2600 was the most complete and versatile Synthesizer of its time. She agreed. So we immediately phoned the ARP company. A man with a broken English voice answered the phone. My guess is that this was the "man" himself, Alan R. Pearlman. He actually took the order. Because we had read about the bankruptcy in a "magazine" (which meant this news was already old), Sylvia and I feel that the ARP 2600 we currently own is "probably" "the last" or, at least, "one" of the last ones ever sold by that company. (We bought the one with the orange "blocks" describing the functions.)
Here's a great web page showing the many versions of this incredible Synthesizer:
Although Sylvia and I have owned a Novation "Ultranova" synthesizer for several months, I was having a difficult time wrapping my head around its various sections and how they interconnect with each other. My synthesizer background has been with the:
After reading through it more closely, I discovered that one aspect of my confusion was from the cryptic titles printed on the screen, indicating the different functions. For example: "01WTInt" stands for "Oscillator 1, Wave Table Interpolation". Then, reading its details helped me understand that this feature adjusts the movement between certain Wave Tables from "Stepped" to "Smooth" when activated.
I also more-clearly understood that certain functions are not as complicated as I thought they were. They're simply "routed" or "accessed" in a way that's different from what I'm used to with other synths. For example: the Ultranova does offer "Ring Modulation" but there is no dedicated "button" or "knob" for this. Instead, it's selected in the "Mixer" — because it's a mixture between Oscillators 1 and 3 or Oscillators 2 and 3. Your choice.
At first glance, the Ultranova seems to have a lot of "menu diving" but after my recent working with it, I now see that most sections only have one or two "screens" worth of adjustments.
At a retail price of just $600, this synthesizer is well-worth the money.
Ever since Korg introduced their version of the 1970s "ARP Odyssey" synthesizer, many Musicians (Sylvia and I included) have been wondering when Korg would reveal their version of the "ARP 2600" synthesizer. They had former ARP Engineer, David Friend, give a Talk during the Odyssey's unveiling and, I guess, Korg obtained special permission to manufacturer this new instrument. So I assumed they would move to the next plateau in the ARP lineup and build the "2600".
Now that it's been at least 24-months since the Odyssey's release, we still have no "ARP 2600".
The other day, I was thinking about this and then I thought:
Just some thoughts.
Here's the link to the "Korg ARP Odyssey":
Here's the link to an "ARP 2600":
Here's the link to an "ARP 2500" page:
Today, I was finally able to gather enough energy together, within myself, to work with Sylvia on the 1st song in our upcoming album.
I had forgotten that we already recorded some starting-thoughts for this song. So I turned on our "Korg Krome" keyboard, set it to Sylvia's favorite "Piano with Strings" sound and placed my fingers on the keys.
I immediately found myself (with Sylvia's help, of course) playing a simple but nice-sounding chord-progression. Just before turning on the built-in Recorder, I used the "Tap Tempo" feature to indicate the speed of this song. When I did this, the keyboard showed a Tempo of "81 bpm" (Beats Per Minute).
After recording this, I decided to quickly Save it, before I started modifying it. When I did, I thought: "I better save it as "Chaos 2", in case we already Saved a "Chaos 1"." Once it was safely Saved, I checked and, yes, there was a "Chaos 1" already Saved. So I Loaded it in and listened to it. Not only were the chords fairly close to what I had already played but the Tempo was… exactly "81" bpm!
That was the "melodic", "sane" part. About a week or 2 ago, I had created a Patch (instrument sound) on our ARP 2600 for the "chaos" part. I listened to it but it never sounded right. So I cleared it and started from scratch. While creating that sound, I realized (or Sylvia made the suggestion) of just what that sound should be. So I cleared that Patch and started over… again.
Needing yet 1 more modifying source, I also used 1 of the "Gate" Outs, on the BeatStep Pro, to trigger an extra rhythm, which is slightly random
We also did a brief test with the vocal software, "Cyber Diva". Its "strangeness" may work along with a mirrored voice, in order to give that 1st song a cold, sad, empty, chaotic feel. We'll see.
We still have to work-out a Drum part.
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