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Roland Newslink - Summer 1985

Barnacle's Synth Sax

Article from International Musician & Recording World, August 1985


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This article was also published in Electronic Soundmaker & Computer Music, August 1985, and first available on mu:zines here:-


Session Sax player Gary Barnacle blows a mean Jupiter 8 — through a rather novel adaptation of Roland interfaceability.

Electronic saxophonist Barnacle

Few sax players seem to be overly enthusiastic about using effects and electronics in conjunction with their sound. An exception to this is Gary Barnacle, probably best known for his work with Ross Middleton in Leisure Process. Gary has concentrated a great deal on combining his saxophone with the facilities of the synthesizer, and currently does a lot of session work involving these kinds of electronics. An admirer of King Curtis and Junior Walker, Gary uses electronics to build on the big sound that is a hallmark of those two players: "Eddie Harris was the first to pioneer the use of electronics in conjunction with sax, but no-one seems to give him any credit for it. It's the thing of a black guy does it, then a white guy copies him and takes all the credit for it. He used the Gibson Maestro set up, which was designed by Gibson specifically for use with the sax."

Gary's set up involves taking a signal from a Barcus Berry pickup on the mouthpiece, into a Roland Pitch to Voltage converter. The CV and Gate outputs are then put through an OP 8 interface into the DCB port on a Jupiter 8, thus enabling him to control the oscillators in the Jupiter 8 from his saxophone.

"A lot of people bought the Roland Rack Mounted series which had things like a Dimension D on it. But they never used the pitch to voltage converter, mainly because although it accepts any mono signal, it has to be set up differently for each instrument. It took a long time for me to set it up to work right with my sound."

One would have thought MIDI would be a godsend to someone like Gary, but so far he has not been able to find a MIDI set up which can translate note bending the way his present set up does; they all seem to work by step. The last time he used the set up live was on tour with Elvis Costello when, using layered type effects on the Jupiter 8, he had to substitute for a whole brass section.

"I don't know of any other sax players who are doing this. If they do, it's generally when I've done a session and they get another guy in after me and ask him to recreate the sound. Most sax players have a very purist attitude to the instrument; they're in love with the Jazz image. A lot of people are into recreating the sound of John Coltrane, and if they keep at it they could probably do it very well. But if Coltrane was alive now, this is what he'd be doing, extending the instrument through all its possibilities."

Reprinted from International Musician and Recording World May 1985.


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Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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International Musician - Aug 1985

Donated by: James Perrett

Roland Newslink - Summer 1985

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