Readers' synth patches for the Bit One, Yamaha DX7 and Casio CZ series, plus a review of some new DX ROM packs from Japan.
It's not what you do, it's the way that you do it. Or to put it another way, quite a number of submissions to Patchwork are being let down by poor presentation (eg. no details attached, an incomprehensible name and address, patch names like 'Cosmic'). These tend to be passed over in favour of something a little more 'user-friendly'. Now, we're not insisting on reams of prose, neatly typed on the finest India paper - just a covering note about the sound and its musical purpose in life that'll convince us it's worth testing out for ourselves (and why not tell us something about yourself and your musical career at the same time?). And as we mentioned last month, we welcome short cassettes of your sounds, particularly if there's a batch of them and/or they're for a less popular synth (we don't have an endless supply of gear, you know).
Don't forget that if your patch gets published, a free year's subscription will wing its way to your front door with our compliments. So send us your favourite sounds on a photocopy of an owner's manual chart (coupled with a blank one for artwork purposes), and don't forget to include your full name and address on each chart. Remember, edited presets are all very well, but an original masterpiece is ten times more preferable. OK?
Paul Kimber, Harrogate
A collection of sounds for the (at least in these hallowed pages) neglected Bit One, and you ought to find some of them to your liking. We'll let Paul describe them in his own words:
"The 'Church Organ', 'Harpsichord' and 'Pitch Pipes'are all fairly realistic. The 'Pipes/Bells' sound and 'Fred' are both usable lead sounds and pretty jolly, while 'Not A Piano' is a cross between a piano, electric piano and an organ. The 'Bagpipe' sound is absolutely horrible and should carry a Government health warning... 'Touch Me' has got nothing to do with Miss S Fox, but is an extremely touch-sensitive sound. If the keys are held down, there's a wibbly wobbly bit at the end (sounds like Miss Fox again). 'A Sample?' is an attempt by an analogue synth to imitate a digital sample of a real sound - bound to make a few people angry, if nothing else."
David Wells, Liverpool
Having been disappointed with the acoustic piano sounds onboard the DX7, David set out to program a grand piano as close to the real thing as possible. He managed to keep the frequency response as flat as possible while maintaining a rich tone, and this has resulted in a piano that can be both warm and delicate (for slow ballads) and fairly aggressive for chords and such like in rockier material.
Much attention has been given to getting a good tonal response across the keyboard, so the keyboard level scaling, operator level and velocity values are critical. As David quite rightly points out, a good piano sound is the most versatile sound a keyboard player can have at his/her disposal - so add this one to your collection...
Mike Williams, Southampton
Casio's CZ produces another delightful sound here, christened 'Reverb Flute' by Mike due to the distinctive envelope release of DCA1. DCO2 is set to give a realistic 'chiff' effect at the start of each note, and some pitch-bend (try a value of 02) can be brought in for added realism on selected notes. If you select Solo mode you can introduce a little Portamento, and we'd also suggest resetting the Octave Range to 0 or even -1.
ROM Cartridges Yamaha DX7
Now this is how to present cartridges of new synth voices. Attractive packaging, full listings of available voices and descriptions of how they sound, together with hints on how they can be altered easily by the user, and tips on which outboard effects work best as treatments.
It's the Japanese, not surprisingly, who are responsible for this neat and useful presentation. The Shofuku (funny only if you pronounce it wrong) ROMs come from the programming hands of two of Japan's most respected DX sound artists - Yasuhiko Fukuda and Noritaka Ubukata - and the blurb on the packaging claims they include 'voices previously believed difficult to create on the DX7'.
To an extent that's true: across their range of 128 voices (64 each), these two ROMs embrace almost every conceivable family of sound, from fairly standard DX-ish noises like pianos, ethnic tuned percussion and bass guitars, to less likely DX fare in the shape of fat string sections and solo synth voices.
Trouble is, the former are so outstanding, they tend to leave the more 'analogue' voices in the shade. Best of all the 'digital' patches are Part 1's selection of electric pianos and Oriental sounds, and the brass voices and 'hybrid' colours ('Guitarimba' is a fine example of the latter) on Part 2.
There are some good names, too. A stunningly realistic tuba patch called 'A Hippo' because that's what it sounds like over the lowest octave and a half; a subtle Spanish guitar patch called Aran-juez; and a pair of rich chorus piano sounds - one on each ROM, perversely - which take their names from the Weather Report track 'The Remark You Made' which inspired their creation. It can be disconcerting, punching in a patch number and having the title 'You Made' coming up on the synth's LCD.
A fine collection, then, of delicately constructed and hugely characterful voices, stranger than most in traditional DX territory, stronger than most outside of it.
Price £49.95 each
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