The ‘Singing Keyboard’ Fredrick Minturn Sammis & James Nuthall. USA, 1934

sss

James Nuthall(l), Frederick Sammis (r) and performer at the Singing Keyboard in 1934

Frederick Sammis invented the “singing Keyboard” in 1936, a precursor of modern samplers, the instrument played electro-optical recordings of audio waves stored on strips of 35mm film.

Let us suppose that we are to use this machine as a special-purpose instrument for making “talkie” cartoons. At once it will be evident that we have a machine with which the composer may try out various combinations of words and music and learn at once just how they will sound in the finished work. The instrument will probably have ten or more sound tracks recorded side by side on a strip of film and featuring such words as “quack” for a duck, “meow” for a cat, “moo” for a cow. . . . It could as well be the bark of a dog or the hum of a human voice at the proper pitch.

(Frederick Sammis, quoted in Rhea [1977]

Sammis had moved to Hollywood in 1929 to lead RCA into the era of film sound. Sammis was already familiar with the Moviola, a sound- and filmediting table that incorporated photoelectric cells. Using methods that were being developed for the new ‘talkies’, he recorded sung and spoken words onto individual strips of film. He then attached the resulting strips to the keyboard in such a way that a specific strip would be drawn across the optical cell when he depressed a corresponding key.  More recent instruments such as the Mellotron and Chamberlin use a similar technology of triggered and pitched magnetic tape recordings.

Sources

‘The Computer Music Tutorial’ Curtis Roads

Invention and Technology Magazine. Mathew Nicholl. Volume 8, Issue 4. 1993

Musser Maestro Marimba Metron. Clair Omar Musser. USA, 1949

Musser's

Musser’s ‘Maestro Marimba Metron’

“Musser Maestro Marimba Metron” or  “Rhythm Machine” was an early ancestor of the drum machine invented by marimba virtuoso and band leader Clair Omar Musser sometime after 1949. The instrument was  an analogue percussion sequencer designed to accompany Musser’s marimba performances and to teach rhythm to his students at Northwestern University and in his music room at Studio City, California.

The Rhythm machine was a hybrid electronic and electro-acoustic instrument built into an art-deco styled wooden box 18″ wide, 34″ deep, 32″ tall with a top control panel of switches, buttons and dials. The sound was generated using vacuum tube oscillators plus a set of ‘real’ cymbals that were struck with an electro-magnetic solenoid.

musser

The Marimba Metron was able to re-play 13 electronically generated “tempi figures” – rhythmic accompaniments – such as the bolero, waltz, rhumba, cha-cha, tango, samba, and beguine. In addition to the pre-set loops, percussion sounds could be activated using push-button controls. Sounds included  bass drum, tom-toms, temple blocks, woodblock, claves, and maracas sounds, along with the two real cymbals struck by the electronic solenoid.

Clair Omar Musser (1901–1998) Biographical notes

was a marimba virtuoso, a conductor and promoter of marimba orchestras, a composer, a teacher, a designer of keyboard percussion instruments, an inventor, and an engineer for Hughes Aircraft. Musser was born in Pennsylvania and began to study the xylophone in the 5th grade. Upon witnessing a performance of Teddy Brown playing marimba with the Earl Fuller’s Rector Novelty Orchestra, Musser was inspired to study with Brown’s former teacher, Philip Rosenweig. Musser soon became recognized as a virtuoso in his own right, performing as a soloist, with orchestras, and in an early Warner Bros. Vitaphone film.


Sources

http://rhythmdiscoverycenter.org/onlinecollection/mussers-rhythm-machine/ 

The Motorola Scalatron. Herman Pedtke & George Secor. USA, 1974


The Scalatron was an unusual microtonal electronic instrument developed in the early 1970s by Motorola as a new venture into the instrument market. Promoted as the ‘first instant-performance instrument that plays in the cracks’ the Scalatron was aimed squarely at a more experimental, microtonal market – if such a market existed. The instrument itself was a rather basic synthesiser consisting of 240 square wave oscillators (one for each key) built into a wooden home-organ casing.

Scalatron with the

The Scalatron with a Secor Generalised Microtonal Keyboard

The instrument was controlled in early models by a dual manual and later using a multi-coloured ‘Bosanquet generalized keyboard’ designed by the Chicago microtonal composer George Secor.  The Secor keyboard consisted of 240 tuneable oval multicolored keys and allowed the user to create complex tunings

 “Earlier that year (1974) I had attended a demonstration of the Scalatron (digitally retunable electronic organ) prototype, and recognizing that conventional keyboards were not the best way to perform music with more than 12 tones in the octave, I unwittingly proceeded to re-invent the Bosanquet generalized keyboard and subsequently approached the Motorola Scalatron company with the proposal of employing it on their instrument.”… “Around that time several members of the xenharmonic movement had gotten in touch with Scalatron president Richard Harasek and sent him copies of the first two issues of Xenharmonikôn, which he passed on to me and which I promptly read. The second issue included Erv Wilson’s diagrams of a modification of Bosanquet’s keyboard, with hexagonal keys, at which point it became clear that my keyboard proposal was not new… For the remainder of the year I was heavily involved in the generalized (Bosanquet) keyboard Scalatron project and, after that, in using it to explore new tunings. In effect, the keyboard that I had discovered was destined to be overshadowed by the one that I had rediscovered.”

George Secor

Secor Keyboard

Secor Keyboard Diagram

Costing around  $6000-$10,000, the Scalatron was an expensive and unusual instrument. Less than 20 Scalatrons were ever made (including only 2 Secor versions). The Scalatron came with a black and white monitor to adjust each key’s pitch (using Motorola’s TV tuning technology) – a split screen showed horizontal bars representing  true pitch on the left side and the instruments variable pitch on the right side, and, for an additional $1000  a cassette interface was added with a number of tuning ‘programmes’. George Secor toured with the instrument playing works by Harry Partch (who also used the instrument towards the end of his life) and Ben Johnston.  The Scalatron is still much in favour – though very hard to find – by microtonal composers and was used on several albums by Jon Hassell, most notably ‘Vernal Equinox’.

“Finally they invented what I needed–forty years too late.”

Harry Partch via Kenneth Gaburo

A dual manual Scalatron at La Trobe University  Melbourne

A dual manual Scalatron at La Trobe University Melbourne. Each key can be tuned to one of 1024 different pitches

scalatron_02 scalatron_01


Sources:

http://www.warrenburt.com/my-history-with-music-tech2/

http://elgauchoandres.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/what-is-all-this-stuff-about-motorola.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Secor

DMX-1000 Signal Processing Computer. Dean Wallraff, USA 1978

 

DMX-1000

DMX-1000 Signal Processing Computer

 The DMX-1000 was one of the earliest Digital Synthesisers. Essentially it was a dedicated 16 bit audio processing computer designed as an OEM product to be integrated into a existing computer setup – usually a DEC PDP11 microcomputer – where the user would write their own interface and score programmes to run the DMX 1000 from the master computer. The instrument sold for $XX in 1979 putting it beyond the reach of most musicians, however, the DMX was not intended as a mass market product but aimed at electronic and computer music studios (one of the first models being purchased by the University of Milan Cybernetics institute).   The instrument was designed and built by Dean Wallraff previously a programmer at the M.I.T. Experimental Music Studio:

“…I worked there M.I.T.) as a Technical Instructor, mostly doing programming on one of the first visual score editors for music. I composed music using their system, always in non-standard tuning systems. It was slow work, since it took the computer half an hour of calculation to generate a minute’s worth of sound, which was then played back from disk. Some of my music was released on records.

After a year and a half, I decided it was time to leave. The work was getting repetitious, and the pay was low. The big problem was that I would miss the studio’s system, which was the only way I could make music in my non-standard tuning systems. I decided to build my own digital synthesizer, which would let me compose at home, and would generate sound in real time. We moved to New York at this time, into an apartment in an Italian section of Brooklyn…I worked my day job, developing funds-transfer systems for Chase and Citibank, and my night job, designing and building my synthesizer”

dmx-1000 running from a LS1 computer 1982

dmx-1000 running from a LS1 computer 1982

The DMX 1000 was capable of running a varied combination of oscillators, filters and noise generators which could be polyphonically combined and patched (a maximum of 20 simple oscillators with amplitude and frequency control reduced to 14 oscillators with envelope control, or alternatively 6 voices of frequency modulation,  15 first order filter sections, or 8 second order filter sections, or 30  white noise generators) . this made the machine as powerful as the most complex analogue synthesiser on the market at the time but with the additional benefit of being entirely programmable and run from a user generated score in real-time.

To avoid the complexity of the user having to integrate into an existing computer system and write their own software, a complete system,The DMX-1010 was later designed by Wallraff’s Digital Music Systems company which consisted of  a LSI-11 based computer system running score and synthesis software with a floppy disk, CRT terminal, a 61-note keyboard.

DMX-100 and Pod-X

Pod-X was a collection of composition tools designed specifically for the DMX-1000 by the Candadian composer, Barry Truax in 1982 based on his ongoing Pod (POisson Distribution) probability composition model.

“PODX started in 1982 with the acquisition of the DMX-1000 (still working, amazingly enough) – which allowed the flip remark of the “X-rated POD system” to be occasionally uttered. Maybe I could just apply to the Guinness Book of Records for the longest continuously running (and used) computer music system, though it has seen several metamorphoses over that period. And possibly is one of the most productive…”

Despite the DMX-1000′s flexibility it was rapidly killed off by the advent of powerful and much more affordable digital synthesisers such as the Yamaha DX range of FM instruments.

“We sold dozens of the machines during the next few years, to university computer music studios and research organizations. It was the most flexible real-time synthesizer you could buy at the time, and it allowed composers to do things they couldn’t do with any other affordable system. But Yamaha introduced the DX-7 in the mid-80′s, which provided more raw synthesis power (though less flexibility in programming) in a unit that cost a tenth the price of ours. I spent a year or so trying unsuccessfully to raise money to develop a new generation of synthesizers, and then got out of the business.”

 

Files:

dmx-1000-signal-processing-computer

real-time-granulation-of-sampled-sound-with-the-dmx-1000

models-of-interactive-composition-with-the-dmx-1000-digital


Sources:

The DMX-1000 Signal Processing Computer. Dean Wallraff. Computer Music Journal Vol. 3, No. 4 (Dec., 1979), pp. 44-49

http://www.sfu.ca/~truax/pod.html

Electronic and Computer Music. By Peter Manning

http://arsnova.org/deanraff/

The ‘Samson Box’ or ‘Systems Concepts Digital Synthesizer’ Peter Samson, USA 1977

Peter Samson standing next to the Systems Concepts Digital Synthesizer or 'Samon Box'

Peter Samson standing next to the Systems Concepts Digital Synthesiser or ‘Samson Box’

The Samson box was a one-off special-purpose dedicated audio computer designed for use by student composers at Center for Computer Research in Musical and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University – previously music students had to use the universities expensive and relatively slow computer system in downtime between 3am and 6am. The box, costing around $100,000 and resembling a ‘green fridge’ was housed at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in 1977 and was one of the earliest digital synthesisers. The box was used extensively throughout the late seventies and 1980s in music compositions and experimental research.

Peter Samson, the now legendary programming and hacking pioneer, was commissioned by CCRMA to develop a digital audio synthesis solution based on his previous prototype experiments throughout the 1970s. Samson’s design was based around a dedicated DEC PDP6 computer running three types of modules;  generator modules ( a series of 256 unit generators: waveform oscillators with several modes and controls, complete with amplitude and frequency envelope support), and modifiers ( 128 modifiers each of which could be a second-order filter, random-number generator, or amplitude-modulator among other functions)and 32 delay units – all of which could be run simultaneously. The instrument supported Additive, subtractive, and nonlinear FM synthesis and waveshaping synthesis which all ran through four digital-to-analog converters giving four-channels of audio output.

The Samson box was successful in that it allowed students and composers access to much faster and dedicated technology, yet ultimately it had the effect of inhibiting the development of computer synthesis as it was essentially a closed system and unable to run the more ‘open’ MUSICX type programs that became the forerunners of modern software synthesis.


Sources:

Peter Samson’s homepage: http://www.gricer.com/

Peter Samson, A General-Purpose Digital Synthesizer, Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 1980, Vol. 28 [3].

http://www.musicainformatica.org/

https://ccrma.stanford.edu/guides/planetccrma/Some.html

The Synclavier I & II. Jon Appleton, Sydney Alonso & Cameron Jones. USA, 1977

Late version of the Synclavier II

Late version of the Synclavier II 9600TS system with an Apple Macintosh running a terminal emulator

The Synclavier I was the first commercial digital FM synthesiser and music workstation launched by the New England Digital Corporation (NED) of Norwich, Vermont, USA in 1978. The system was designed by the composer and professor of Digital Electronics at Dartmouth College, Jon Appleton with software programmer, Sydney Alonso and Cameron Jones, a student at the time at Dartmouth School of Engineering.

The origins of the Synclavier began when Cameron Jones and Sydney Alonso started to develop software and hardware for electronic music for John Appleton’s electronic music course at Dartmouth. After graduation Jones and Alonso developed a 16-bit processor card and a new compiler to create their ‘ABLE’  computer, NED’s first product, sold to institutions for data collection applications. The first musical application developed by NED was the ‘Dartmouth Digital Synthesiser’ based around the  ABLE microprocessor which was released as a production model Synclavier I in 1977. The new device was intended as a fully-integrated, high end music production system rather than an instrument and sold for $200,000 to $500,000, way beyond the reach of most musicians and recording studios.

Synclavier 1

Synclavier 1 with the VT100 Computer

The synclavier 1 was an FM synthesis based keyboard-less sound module, and was only programmable via a DEC VT100 computer supplied with the system. This version was quickly replaced by the integrated keyboard Synclavier II in 1979. The model II was a FM/Additive hybrid synthesiser with a 32 track digital sequencer memory and was the first musical device aimed at creating an integrated ‘tapeless studio’. The Syncalvier II was equally expensive echoing the fact that almost all of the components were either sourced from hardware developed for military uses or were custom designed and built by NED themselves. NED designed the system to be as robust as possible, built around their own ABLE computer hardware (as a testament to this durability, NASA chose the ABLE computer to run the onboard systems of the Gallileo space probe which in fourteen years travelled to the edges of the solar system – eight years longer than the original mission plan)

Synclavier-II ORK keyboard

Synclavier-II ORK keyboard

The instrument was controlled by a standard ‘ORK’ on-off keyboard and edited by the same DEC VT100 (later a VT640) computer as well as via a distinctive set of multiple red buttons (the same lights used in B52 bomber aircraft, chosen for durability) and rotary dial that allowed the user to edit straight from the keyboard and get visual feedback on the state of the instrument’s parameters. The keyboard was soon replaced in the new PSMT model by a ‘VPK’ weighted, velocity sensitive manual licensed from Sequential Circuits (the same keyboard as the Prophet T8) that dramatically improved the playability of the instrument.

Synclavier II PSMT

Synclavier II PSMT

The Synclavier II was a 64 voice polyphonic modular digital synthesiser; the user purchased a selection of individual cards for each function making it easy to expand and repair. In 1982 a digital 16 bit sample facility was added that allowed the user to not only sample but re-synthesise samples using FM, making the Synclavier one of the earliest digital samplers (The Fairlight CMI being the first) and in 1984 a direct to disk digital audio recording, sample to (32MB) memory, 200 track sequencer, guitar interface, MIDI and SMPTE capability were included making the Synclavier II an extremely powerful (but very expensive) integrated audio production tool. The instrument became a fixture of high-end music and soundtrack production studios – and is still in use by many. The Synclavier is instantly recognisable on many 1980 film and pop hits; used by artists such as Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson, Laurie Anderson, Herbie Hancock, Sting, Genesis, David Bowie and many other. The Synclavier was particularly championed by Frank Zappa – one of the few artists who privately owned a Synclavier – who used it extensively on many of his works including m Jazz From Hell and  Civilization, Phaze III:

“What I’ve been waiting for ever since I started writing music was a chance to hear what I wrote played back without mistakes and without a bad attitude. The Synclavier solves the problem for me. Most of the writing I’m doing now is not destined for human hands.”

Frank Zappa

Despite it’s popularity in recording studios the Synclavier inevitably succumbed to competition from increasingly powerful and cheaper personal computers, MIDI synthesisers and low cost digital samplers. New England Digital closed it’s doors in 1992, many of the company assets purchased by Fostex for use in hard-disk recording systems. In 1993, A new Synclavier Company was established by ex-NED employees as a support organisation for existing Synclavier customers.

Images of the Synclavier i & II








Sources:

http://www.500sound.com/uniquesync.html

http://www.synclavier.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SynclavierDigital

Con Brio Advanced Digital Synthesizer 100 & 200. Tim Ryan, Alan Danziger, Don Lieberman. USA, 1979

Conbrio_ADS_200

Con Brio ADS 200 1980

The  Con Brio ADS 100 & 200 has become something of a legendary instrument due to it’s phenomenal price – USD$30,000 or about GBP£17,000 in 1980 – and it’s futuristic sci-fi looks. The instrument was designed by three California Institute of Technology students  – Tim Ryan, Alan Danziger, and Don Lieberman in 1979, and was one of the earliest digital synthesisers. The first version  – originally designed to test audio perception in their university research – evolved into the ADS100 and was capable of several types of synthesis modes via it’s 64 oscillators; additive synthesis, phase modulation (Used later in the Casio CZ series.), and frequency modulation (FM synthesis – which brought Con Brio into conflict with Yamaha, owner of Chowning’s FM patent). Despite it’s high price and negligible sales, the ADS 100 did claim some fame when it was later used to generate sound effects for Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Con Brio ADS 100

Con Brio ADS 100

DSC_3642

Con Brio ADS 100

The ADS100 was based on 3 MOS 6502 processors (also used in Apple I, II and Commodore 64 computers at the time) and could display sequence patterns and waveform envelopes on a video display. The instrument consisted of a large filing-cabinet sized wooden box for all of the computer peripherals – hard drives, cables and so-on, two detachable 61 note keyboard plus a control panel consisting of numerous coloured lights and a video monitor. The ADS100 was completely hand wired and took over seven months to build only one is known to have been sold – for $30,000 to film composer David Campell, (Beck’s father, who also arranged music for Tori Amos, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Kiss, Aerosmith) and later acquired by musician and vintage synthesiser collector Brian Kehew.

cb

Con Brio ADS 200

In 1980 the ADS was updated to the ADS 200. The upgrade added another two 6502 processors to make a total of five, new software included a new sequencer that could display musical notation and play four tracks at a time sync-able via CV/Gate interface. The five processors allowed the instrument to run 16 oscillators on each key which multiplied by it’s its sixteen voices capability gave a total of 256 simultaneous oscillators. The smaller ADS200 had a microtonally tunable, split-able keyboard

“‘It was totally configurable in software…we had 16 stage envelope generators for both frequency and amplitude, so it was kind of like the grandfather of the Yamaha DX7. On ours, you could build your own algorithms, using any of all of the 64 oscillators in any position in the algorithm. If you wanted additive, you could add 16 of them together. The phase modulation was similar to what Casio did with their CZ series. You could designate any tuning you wanted and save it. You could split the keyboard, stack sounds, model different parts of the keyboard for different parts of the sound, and save that as an entity – the kind of things that are common now.”

Brian Kehew

1982 saw the release of the  200-R which featured a a 16-track polyphonic sequencer with 80,000 note storage capability editable from the video display. This version was priced at $25,000. Only one was ever built. Like many other High-end, expensive digital synthesisers, the days of the ConBrio ADS were numbered with the arrival of cheaper and available technology – specifically the Yamaha DX7 FM synthesiser (1983) – as well as affordable personal computers running sequencer applications such as Steinberg’s Cubase. After Con Brio’s demise, Danziger and Lieberman have become successful manufacturing semiconductors. Tim Ryan cofounded The Sonus corporation, which later became M-Audio, a leading manufacturer of computer audio interfaces, MIDI controller keyboards, and studio monitor speakers.

Images of the Con Brio ADS 100/200/200R



Sources:

Vintage Synthesizers by Mark Vail, copyright Miller Freeman, Inc

http://www.matrixsynth.com/2007/10/con-brio-rises.html

‘Graphic 1′ William H. Ninke, Carl Christensen, Henry S. McDonald and Max Mathews. USA, 1965


‘Graphic 1′  was an hybrid hardware-software graphic input system for digital synthesis that allowed note values to be written on a CRT computer monitor – although very basic by current standards, ‘Graphic 1′ was the precursor to most computer based graphic composition environments such as Cubase, Logic Pro, Ableton Live and so-on.

The IBM704b at Bell Labs used with the Graphics 1 system

The IBM704b at Bell Labs used with the Graphics 1 system

‘Graphic 1′ was developed by William Ninke (plus  Carl Christensen and Henry S. McDonald) at Bell labs for use by Max Mathews as a graphical front-end for MUSIC IV synthesis software to circumvent the lengthy and tedious process of adding numeric note values to the MUSIC program.

” The Graphic 1 allows a person to insert pictures and graphs directly into a computer memory by the very act of drawing these objects…Moreover the power of the computer is available to modify, erase, duplicate  and remember these drawings”
Max Mathews  quoted from ‘Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture’ by Thom Holmes

Lawrence Rosller of Bell labs with Max Mathews in front of the Graphics 1 system c 1967

Lawrence Rosller of Bell labs with Max Mathews in front of the Graphics 1 system c 1967

Graphic 2/ GRIN 2 was later developed in 1976 as a commercial design package based on a faster PDP2 computer and was sold by Bell and DEC as a computer-aided design system for creating circuit designs and logic schematic drawings.

Audio recordings of the Graphic I/MUSIC IV system

Graphic I Audio file 1

Graphic I Audio file 2

Graphic I Audio file 3

Graphic I Audio file 4


Sources:

‘Interview with Max Mathews’ C. Roads and Max Mathews. Computer Music Journal, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Winter, 1980), pp. 15-22. The MIT Press

Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture. Thom Holmes

http://www.musicainformatica.it/

http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/cs/cstr/99.html

‘The Oramics Machine: From vision to reality’. PETER MANNING. Department of Music, Durham University, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RL, UK

M. V. Mathews and L. Rosler’ Perspectives of New Music’  Vol. 6, No. 2 (Spring – Summer, 1968), pp. 92-118

W. H. Ninke, “GRAPHIC I: A Remote Graphical Display Console System,” Proceedings of the Fall Joint Computer Conference of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies 27 (1965), Part I, pp. 839-846.

‘Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology: Volume 3 – Ballistics …’ Jack Belzer, Albert G. Holzman, Allen Kent

‘ARP’ Synthesisers. Alan Robert Pearlman, USA, 1970

Front panel of the ARP 2500

Front main panel of the ARP 2500

ARP Synthesisers was started by the engineer and musical enthusiast Alan Robert Pearlman – hence ‘ARP’ – in 1970 in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA. Previous to ARP, Pearlman had worked as an engineer at NASA and ran his own company Nexus Research laboratory Inc., a manufacturer of op-amps (precision circuits used in amplifiers and test equipment) which he sold in 1967 to fund the launch of the ARP company in 1969. The inspiration for ARP came after he played with both Moog and Buchla synthesisers and being unimpressed by the tuning instability of the oscillators and lack of commercial focus – especially the keyboard-less Buchla Box – and became determined to produce a stable, friendly, commercial electronic instrument.

“If you would like to spend your time creatively, actively producing new music and sound, rather than fighting your way through a nest of cords, a maze of distracting apparatus, you’ll find the ARP uniquely efficient . . . matrix switch interconnection for patching without patch cords…P.S. The oscillators stay in tune.”
ARP Advert 1970

Slider matrix of the 2500

Slider matrix of the 2500

The first product was the ARP 2500, a large monophonic modular voltage-controlled synthesiser designed along similar lines to the Moog Modular series 100. The 2500 had a main cabinet holding up to 12 modules and two wing-extension adding another six modules each. The interface was designed to be as clear as possible to non-synthesists with a logically laid out front panel and, unlike the Buchla and Moog Modular, dispensed with patch cables in favour of a series of  10X10 slider matrices, leaving the front panel clear of cable clutter. The 2500 also came with a 10-step analogue sequencer far in advance of any other modular system of the day

Despite the fact that the 2500 proved to be an advanced, reliable and user-friendly machine with much more stable and superior oscillators to the Moog, it was not commercially successful, selling only approximately 100 units.

ARP 2500 Modules

ARP 2500 Modules

Modules of the ARP 2500

Module # Type of Module Description
1002 power supply
1003 dual envelope generator This module contains two ADSR envelope generators (actually labeled “Attack”, “Initial Decay”, “Sustain”, and “Final Decay”), each switchable between single or multiple triggering. There is a manual gate button as well as a front panel input for gate/trigger and a back panel input for a sustain pedal.
1003a dual envelope generator (same as 1003, except re-positioned trigger switches and gate buttons)
1004 VCO A Voltage Controlled Oscillator with a range from 0.03Hz to 16kHz, this module can function as a VCO or an LFO. It features separate outputs for each of its five waveforms (sine, triangle, square, sawtooth, and pulse) and 6 CV (control voltage) inputs, as well as a CV input for Pulse Width Modulation.
1004p VCO This module is the same as the 1004, except each waveform has its own attenuation knob for mixing all the waveforms together. There is a separate output to for the mixed waveforms.
1004r VCO This module is the same as the 1004, except each waveform has its own rocker switch to route any or all of the waveforms to an extra mix output.
1004t VCO This module is the same as the 1004r, except it uses toggle switches.
1005 VCA andRing Modulator This module is half Voltage Controlled Amplifier and half Balanced (Ring) Modulator. It is switchable between linear or exponential voltage control, and features 11 inputs, 3 outputs, and illuminated push-buttons.
1006 VCF and VCA The Voltage Controlled Filter (24dB/octave, low-pass, with resonance) and Voltage Controlled Amplifier (switchable between linear and exponential) in one module
1012 Convenience Module This module routes two jack inputs to any of the upper ten lines of the lower matrix. (Remember, most of the patching for this instrument is done from these matrix sliders).
1016 dual noise generators This module features two random voltage generators outputting white or pink noise and two slow sample-and-hold circuits, four outputs in all.
1023 dual VCO Both oscillators feature the same waveforms as 1004 with a switch for high and low frequency ranges. There are a total of 10 control inputs and 2 audio outputs.
1026 Preset Voltage module This module contains eight manually or sequencer-driven gated control-voltages, each with two knobs sending control voltages to separate outputs. It can be connected, via the rear panel, to module 1027 Sequencer or module 1050 Mix-Sequencer.
1027 Sequencer This is a 10X3 sequencer with 14 outputs (including 10 separate position/step gates), 6 inputs, buttons for step and reset, and a knobs for pulse repetition/width, which controls the silence between the steps.
1033 Dual Delayed-Trigger Envelope Generator This module is the same as the 1003 ADSR module except it has two more knobs to control gate delay.
1036 Sample-and-Hold / random voltage
1045 Voice Module This all-in-one module contains a VCO, VCF, VCA, and two ADSR envelope generators, as well as 16 inputs, and four outputs. (Note: Most modules feature a spelling mistake “Resanance” instead of “Resonance”.)
1046 quad envelope generator This module is basically a 1003 and a 1033 combined into one module.
1047 Multimode Filter / Resonator This module features 15 inputs, 4 outputs and an overload warning light.
1050 Mix-Sequencer This module features two 4X1 mixers with illuminated on/off buttons.
3001 Keyboard This keyboard features a 5-octave, 61-note (C-C) keyboard with the bottom two octaves (C-B) reverse colored to show the keyboard split. The top half of the keyboard is duophonic. There are separate CV (1v/octave), gate, and trigger outputs for each side of the split, as well as separate panels on either side of the keyboard with controls for portamento, tuning, and pitch interval.
? Dual-Manual Keyboard Two 3001s, one on top of the other, with the bottom octave (C-B) or two octaves (C-B) of the top keyboard reverse colored to show the split.

from ‘The A-Z of Analogue Synthesizers’, by Peter Forrest, published by Susurreal Publishing, Devon, England, copyright 1994 Peter Forrest


ARP 2600

ARP 2600

The ARP 2600 (1971)

Stevie Wonder endorses the ARP 2600

Stevie Wonder endorses the ARP 2600

The 2600 similar to the EMS’s VCS3 was a portable, semi-modular analog subtractive synthesiser with built in modules and, again similar to the VCS3 was designed to target the educational market; schools, universities and so-on. The inbuilt modules could be patched using a combination of patch cables or by using sliders to control internally hard wired connections:

“ARP 2600 The ultimate professional-quality portable synthesizer Equally at home in the electronic music studio or on stage, the ARP 2600 provides the incredible new sounds in today’s leading rock bands The 2600 is also owned by many of the most prestigious universities and music schools in the world Powerful. dependable, and easy to play. the 2600 can be played without patchcords or modified with patch cords. This arrangement provides maximum speed and convenience for live performance applications, as well as total programming flexibility for teaching, research composition and recording. An pre-wired patch connection(s) can be overridden by simply inserting a patchcord into the appropriate jack on the front panel.

The ARP 2600 is easily expanded and can be used with the ARP 2500 series.Renowned for its electronic superiority, the oscillators and filters in the 2600 are the most stable and accurate available anywhere Accompanied by the comprehensive, fully illustrated owner s manual, the ARP 2600 is recognized as the finest, most complete portable synthesizer made today

FUNCTIONS: 3 Voltage Controlled Oscillators 03 Hz to 20 KHz in two ranges Five waveforms include: variable-width pulse. triangle. sine, square, and sawtooth 1 Voltage Controlled Lowpass filter Variable resonance, DC coupled. Doubles as a low distortion sine oscillator. 1 Voltage Controlled Amplifier Exponential and linear control response characteristics 1 Ring Modulator. AC or DC coupled 2 Envelope Generators. 1 Envelope Follower. 1 Random Noise Generator. Output continuously variable from flat to -6db/octave 1 Electronic Switch, bidirectional 1 Sample & Hold with internal clock. 1 General purpose Mixer and Panpot. 1 Voltage Processor with variable lag. 2 Voltage Processors with inverters 1 Reverberation unit. Twin uncorrelated stereo outputs 2 Built-in monitoring amplifiers and speakers, with standard stereo 8-ohm headphone jack. 1 Microphone Preamp with adjustable gain 1 Four-octave keyboard with variable tuning. variable portamento, variable tone interval, and precision memory circuit. DIMENSIONS: Console 32″ x 18″ x 9x Keyboard 35″ x 10″ x 6″ WEIGHT: 58 Ibs”
ARP 2600 Promotional material 1971

ARP 2800 ‘Odyssey’ 1972

By the mid-1970s ARP had become the dominant synthesiser manufacturer, with a 40 percent share of the $25 million market. This was due to Pearlman’s gift for publicity – the ARP2500 famously starred in the film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ (1977) as well as product endorsements by famous rock starts; Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend, Herbie Hanckock and so-on – and the advent of reliable, simpler, commercial instrument designs such as the ARP 2800 ‘Odyssey’ in 1972.

ARP 2800 Odyssey

ARP 2800 Odyssey

The ARP 2800 ‘Odyssey’ 1972-1981

The Odyssey was ARP’s response to Moog’s ‘Minimoog’; a portable, user-friendly, affordable performance synthesiser; essentially a scaled down version of the 2600 with built in keyboard – a form that was to dominate the synthesiser market for the next twenty years or so.

The Odyssey was equipped with two oscillators and was one of the first synthesisers to have duo-phonic capabilities. Unlike the 2600 there were no patch ports, instead all of the modules were hard wired and routable and controllable via sliders and button son the front panel. ‘Modules’ consisted of  two Voltage Controlled Oscillators (switchable between  sawtooth, square, and pulse waveforms)  a resonant low-pass filter, a non-resonant high-pass filter, Ring Modulator, noise generator (pink/white) ADSR and AR envelopes, a triangle and square wave LFO, and a sample-and-hold function. The later Version III model had a variable expression keyboard allowing flattening or sharpening of the pitch and the addition of vibrato depending on key pressure and position.

ARP 2800 Odyssey Mki

ARP 2800 Odyssey MkI

ARP Production model timeline 1969-1981:

  • 1969 – ARP 2002 Almost identical to the ARP 2500, except that the upper switch matrix had 10 buses instead of 20.
  • 1970 – ARP 2500
  • 1970 – ARP Soloist (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesizer)
  • 1971 – ARP 2600
  • 1972 – ARP Odyssey
  • 1972 – ARP Pro Soloist (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesizer – updated version of Soloist)
  • 1974 – ARP String Ensemble (polyphonic string voice keyboard manufactured by Solina)
  • 1974 – ARP Explorer (small, portable, monophonic preset, programmable sounds)
  • 1975 – ARP Little Brother (monophonic expander module)
  • 1975 – ARP Omni (polyphonic string synthesiser )
  • 1975 – ARP Axxe (pre-patched single oscillator analog synthesiser)
  • 1975 – ARP String Synthesiser (a combination of the String Ensemble and the Explorer)
  • 1977 – ARP Pro/DGX (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesiser – updated version of Pro Soloist)
  • 1977 – ARP Omni-2 (polyphonic string synthesiser with rudimentary polyphonic synthesiser functions – updated version of Omni)
  • 1977 – ARP Avatar (an Odyssey module fitted with a guitar pitch controller)
  • 1978 – ARP Quadra (4 microprocessor-controlled analog synthesisers in one)
  • 1979 – ARP Sequencer (analog music sequencer)
  • 1979 – ARP Quartet (polyphonic orchestral synthesiser not manufacted by ARP – just bought in from Siel and rebadged )
  • 1980 – ARP Solus (pre-patched analog monophonic synthesiser)
  • 1981 – ARP Chroma (microprocessor controlled analog polyphonic synthesiser – sold to CBS/Rhodes when ARP closed)

The demise of ARP Instruments was brought about by disorganised management and the decision to invest heavily in a guitar style synthesiser, the SRP Avatar. Although this was an innovative and groundbreaking instrument it failed to sell and ARP were never able to recoup the development costs. ARP filed for bankruptcy in 1981.

ARP Image Gallery





Sources:

http://www.till.com/articles/arp/

‘Analog Days’. T. J PINCH, Frank Trocco. Harvard University Press, 2004

‘Vintage Synthesizers’: Pioneering Designers, Groundbreaking Instruments, Collecting Tips, Mutants of Technology. Mark Vail. March 15th 2000. Backbeat Books

The rise and fall of ARP instruments‘ By Craig R. Waters with Jim Aikin

http://www.arpodyssey.com/

http://www.synthmuseum.com/arp/arpodyssey01.html

The ‘Sound Processor’ or ‘Audio System Synthesiser’ Harald Bode, USA, 1959

Harald Bode demonstrating the

Harald Bode demonstrating the Audio System Synthesiser

In 1954 the electronic engineer and pioneering instrument designer Harald Bode moved from his home in Bavaria, Germany to Brattleboro, Vermont, USA to lead the development team at the Estey Organ Co, working on developing his instrument the ‘Bode Organ’ as the prototype for the new Estey Organ. As a sideline Bode set up his own home workshop in 1959 to develop his ideas for a completely new and innovative instrument “A New Tool for the Exploration of Unknown Electronic Music Instrument Performances”. Bode’s objective was to produce a device that could included everything needed for film and TV audio production; soundtracks, sound design and audio processing– perhaps inspired by Oskar Sala’s successful (and lucrative ) film work, such as on Alfred Hitchcock  ‘The Birds’ (1963).

Bode’s new idea was to create a modular device where different components could be connected as needed; and in doing so created the first modular synthesiser – a concept that was copied sometime later by Robert Moog and Donald Buchla amongst others. The resulting instrument  the ‘Audio System Synthesiser’ allowed the user to connect multiple devices such as Ring modulators, Filters, Reverb Generators etc in any order to modify or generate sounds. The sound could be recorded to tape, mixes or further processing; “A combination of well-known devices enabled the creation of new sounds” (Bode 1961)

circuitry of the

circuitry of the Audio System Synthesiser

Bode wrote a description of the Audio System Synthesiser in the December 1961 issue of Electronics Magazine and demonstrated it at the Audio Engineering Society (AES), a convention for the electro-acoustics industry in New York in 1960. In the audience was a young Robert Moog who was at the time running a business selling Theremin Kits. Inspired by Bode’s ideas Moog designed the famous series of Moog modular synthesisers. Bode would later license modules to be included in Moog modular systems including a Vocoder, Ring Modulator, filter and Pitch shifter as well as producing a number of components which were widely used in electronic music studios during the 196os

Front panel of the Audio System Synthesiser

Front panel of the Audio System Synthesiser

Text from the 1961 edition of Electronics Magazine

New sounds and musical effects can be created either by synthesizing acoustical phenomena, by processing natural or artificial (usually electronically generated) sounds, or by applying both methods. Processing acoustical phenomena often results in substantial deviations from the original.

Production of new sounds or musical effects can be made either by intermediate or immediate processing methods. Some methods of intermediate processing may include punched tapes for control of the parameters of a sound synthesizer, and may also include such tape recording procedures as reversal, pitch-through-speed changes, editing and dubbing.

Because of the time differential between production and performance when using the intermediate process, the composer-performer cannot immediately hear or judge his performance, therefore corrections can be made only after some lapse of time. Immediate processing techniques present no such problems.

Methods of immediate processing include spectrum and envelope shaping, change of pitch, change of overtone structure including modification from harmonic to nonharmonic overtone relations, application of periodic modulation effects, reverberation, echo and other repetition phenomena.

The output of the ring-bridge modulator shown in Figure 2a yields the sum and differences of the frequencies applied to its two inputs but contains neither input frequency. This feature has been used to create new sounds and effects. Figure 2b shows a tone applied to input 1 and a group of harmonically related frequencies applied to input 2. The output spectrum is shown in Figure 2c.

Due to operation of the ring-bridge modulator, the output frequencies are no longer harmonically related to each other. If a group of properly related frequencies were applied to both inputs and a percussive-type envelope were applied to the output signal, a bell-like tone would be produced.

In a more general presentation, the curves of Figure 3 show the variety of tone spectra that may be derived with a gliding frequency between 1 cps and 10 kcps applied to one and two fixed 440 and 880 cps frequencies (in octave relationship) applied to the other input of the ring-bridge modulator. The output frequencies are identified on the graph.

Frequencies applied to the ring-bridge modulator inputs are not limited to the audio range. Application of a subsonic frequency to one input will periodically modulate a frequency applied to the other. Application of white noise to one input and a single audio frequency to the other input will yield tuned noise at the output. Application of a percussive envelope to one input simultaneously with a steady tone at the other input will result in a percussive-type output that will have the characteristics of the steady tone modulated by the percussive envelope.

The unit shown in Figure 4 provides congruent envelope shaping as well as the coincident percussive envelope shaping of the program material. One input accepts the control signal while the other input accepts the material to be subjected to envelope shaping. The processed audio appears at the output of the gating circuit.

To derive control voltages for the gating functions, the audio at the control input is amplified, rectified and applied to a low-pass filter. Thus, a relatively ripple-free variable DC bias will actuate the variable gain, push-pull amplifier gate. When switch S1 is in the gating position, the envelope of the control signal shapes that of the program material.

To prevent the delay caused by C1 and C2 on fast-changing control voltages, and to eliminate asymmetry caused by the different output impedances at the plate and cathode of V2, relatively high-value resistors R3 and R4 are inserted between phase inverter V2 and the push-pull output of the gate circuit. These resistors are of the same order of magnitude as biasing resistors R1 and R2 to secure a balance between the control DC signal and the audio portion of the program material.

The input circuits of V5 and V6 act as a high-pass filter. The cutoff frequency of these filters exceeds that of the ripple filter by such an amount that no disturbing audio frequency from the control input will feed through to the gate. This is important for clean operation of the percussive envelope circuit. The pulses that initiate the percussive envelopes are generated by Schmitt trigger V9 and V10. Positive-going output pulses charge C5 (or C5 plus C6 or C7 chosen by S2) with the discharge through R5. The time constant depends on the position of S2.

To make the trigger circuit respond to the beginning of a signal as well as to signal growth, differentiator C3 and R6 plus R7 is used at the input of V9. The response to signal growth is especially useful in causing the system to yield to a crescendo in a music passage or to instants of accentuation in the flow of speech frequencies.

The practical application of the audio-controlled percussion device within a system for the production of new musical effects is shown in Figure 5. The sound of a bongo drum triggers the percussion circuit, which in turn converts the sustained chords played by the organ into percussive tones. The output signal is applied to a tape-loop repetition unit that has four equally spaced heads, one for record and three for playback. By connecting the record head and playback head 2 in parallel, output A is produced. By connecting playback head 1 and playback head 3 in parallel, output B is produced, and a distinctive ABAB pattern may be achieved. Outputs A and B can be connected to formant filters having different resonance frequencies.

The number of repetitions may be extended if a feedback loop is inserted between playback head 2 and the record amplifier. The output voltages of the two filters and the microphone preamplifier are applied to a mixer in which the ratio of drum sound to modified percussive organ sound may be controlled.

The program material originating from the melody instrument is applied to one of the inputs of the audio-controlled gate and percussion unit. There it is gated by the audio from a percussion instrument. The percussive melody sounds at the output of the gate are applied to the tape-loop repetition system. Output signal A — the direct signal and the information from playback head 2 — is applied through amplifier A and filter 1 to the mixer. Output signal B — the signals from playback heads 1 and 3 — is applied through amplifier B to one input of the ring-bridge modulator. The other ring-bridge modulator input is connected to the output of an audio signal generator.

The mixed and frequency-converted signal at the output of the ring-bridge modulator is applied through filter 2 to the mixer. At the mixer output a percussiveABAB signal (stemming from a single melody note, triggered by a single drum signal) is obtained. In its A portion it has the original melody instrument pitch while its B portion is the converted nonharmonic overtone structure, both affected by the different voicings of the two filters. When the direct drum signal is applied to a third mixer input, the output will sound like a voiced drum with an intricate aftersound. The repetition of the ABAB pattern may be extended by a feedback loop between playback head two and the record amplifier.

When applying the human singing voice to the input of the fundamental frequency selector, the extracted fundamental pitch may be distorted in the squaring circuit and applied to the frequency divider (or dividers). This will derive a melody line whose pitch will be one octave lower than that of the singer. The output of the frequency divider may then be applied through a voicing filter to the program input of the audio-controlled gate and percussion unit. The control input of this circuit may be actuated by the original singing voice, after having passed through a low-pass filter of such a cutoff frequency that only vowels —typical for syllables — would trigger the circuit. At the output of the audio-controlled gate, percussive sounds with the voicing of a string bass will be obtained mixed with the original voice of the singer. The human voice output signal will now be accompanied by a coincident string bass sound which may be further processed in the tape-loop repetition unit. The arbitrarily selected electronic modules of this synthesizer are of a limited variety and could be supplemented by other modules.

A system synthesizer may find many applications such as exploration of new types of electronic music or as a tool for composers who are searching for novel sounds and musical effects. Such a device will present a challenge to the imagination of composer-programmer. The modern approach of synthesizing intricate electronic systems from modules with a limited number of basic functions has proven successful in the computer field. This approach has now been made in the area of sound synthesis. With means for compiling any desired modular configuration, an audio system synthesizer could become a flexible and versatile tool for sound processing and would be suited to meet the ever-growing demand for exploration and production of new sounds.

Harald Bode 1961

PDF of the article here: 1961 edition of Electronics Magazine

Bode's

Bode’s Audio System Synthesiser’

Diagram of the Bode Synthesiser

Diagram of the Bode Synthesiser

Diagram of the Bode Synthesiser

Diagram of the Bode Synthesiser

Audio Files:

Demonstration of the Audio System Synthesiser by Harald bode in 1962. 4.36 demo

PHASE 4-2 ARPEGGIO” (4:51) Composed in 1964 while Bode was experimenting with various phasers, filters, and frequency shifters.


Sources:

http://cec.sonus.ca/econtact/13_4/palov_bode_biography.html

http://cec.sonus.ca/econtact/13_4/bode_synthesizer.html

http://esteyorganmuseum.org/