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Frankfurt Mix

Martyn Ware

Martin Ware

Article from One Two Testing, February 1985

What was your favourite instrument of 1984?

"The obvious star of '84 was the DX7, it came into prominent use. It's brought hi-fi synthesiser sound and techniques to the price range of most people. We use it quite regularly, the presets are really good. We haven't had that much time to get into programming. Even compared to something like the JP8, which was very fashionable soundwise a couple of years ago, it's not got such an identifiable sound. The clarity of the DX is just wonderful, and I think it's very reasonably priced, considering the leap in technology. Something like the JP8 sounds clichéd now, but the DX7 sounds fresh and exiting."

And what would you like to see developed in 1985?

"We'd like to see the new hard- and software developed for the Fairlight, we've been waiting for that for quite a while now. It should be coming in soon, they say. Specifically, they've been developing the use of hard disks with it which will greatly enhance the sampled sound, and also enable the sampling to go to about three minutes, I think, as opposed to the current limitation of seven seconds. They're also expanding the number of lines on Page R from eight tracks to 16 tracks, so it'll become a 16-track digital recorder. We'd also like to try out the Synthaxe and see what that can do with it.

"I think there's a gap in the market for a more highly developed wind-controlled synthesiser — I know there's this thing called the Millioniser, but I don't think it's on the market yet, and from what I've seen of it it looks a bit gross, a bit bulky. I tried to get hold of a Lyricon some time ago when they were around, but they went out of business. So I'd like to see something like that developed.

"The whole range of synthetic sounds available would be so much more expressive if you had an easy-to-operate breath controller that you could assign to different performance control functions, with a MIDI interface perhaps, maybe in conjunction with footpedals. Or bagpipes. Yamaha have the right idea, they have breath controllers. But they're really rudimentary — I've played with theirs and you have to pump so much bloody air through it you need almost to be like a trained wind instrument player. You need something that anybody can pick up and instantly become familiar with. It should be feasible, I don't know why it's not been developed yet.

Do you foresee any developments in the sound generation side?

"What more is there to be done? One has the ability, if one has the money, to sample any sound that can be perceived by the human ear, and create any sound you can imagine."

But Moog were saying that 15 years ago, that synths then were the ultimate — they were even sold then as machines to 'reproduce the orchestra'.

"There isn't a machine that can recreate the orchestra yet. There's an infinite subtlety of colouration and dynamics, and that's down to the amount of storage you've got available. It's like computer graphics — because of the limited amount of storage that's in the average home micro, for instance, it limits the resolution of the graphics. But they're now producing in Japan at this very moment million-byte chips for 10p apiece (if you forget the R&D costs). As soon as they're incorporated into musical instruments the quality of sounds will really change — the focus will sharpen, if you like.

"But it'll ultimately be the same as it's always been, it's down to the creativity of the individual musicians. It's just that the tools will be a little different. They had the same attitudes to things like spring reverbs in the Sixties as they do towards high-tech in studios today. There's a band of people who think it's all bad for music, there's a band of people who get overexcited and think it's the best thing and nothing will ever replace it, and there's a whole heap of people in the middle who've got no idea what they're talking about."

More from related artists

Previous Article in this issue

Nick Beggs

Next article in this issue

Bill Bruford

Publisher: One Two Testing - IPC Magazines Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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One Two Testing - Feb 1985

Frankfurt Mix


Previous article in this issue:

> Nick Beggs

Next article in this issue:

> Bill Bruford

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