By popular demand, the readers’ synth patch page returns with a new look and a new approach. This month, sounds for the Casio CZs, Roland Juno 106 and Yamaha DX7, plus news of a Korg cassette that offers 165 sampled sounds for under a tenner.
Or should that read 'Return of Patchwork'? As our brilliant and dashing Editor has mentioned in his waffle this month, readers have been constantly requesting the revival of 'their page'... one even added that Patchwork was 'the best feature in E&MM' — which, it must be said, did wonders for our egos.
And so Patchwork is back — but with a difference. We'll now be including short reviews of sound libraries (cartridges, disks, cassettes, chips and so on), for all types of synths and sound samplers. So even if you've given up trying to program your mega-synth, there'll still be some information on sounds supplied by manufacturers and enterprising individuals.
But otherwise, Patchwork survives on being fed — by you — with decent patches for a wide variety of synths. So dust 'em down, and send us your favourite sounds on a copy of an owner's manual chart (coupled with a blank chart for artwork purposes), not forgetting a brief description of your sound, and what musical purpose you feel it's best suited to. Patches please to: Patchwork, E&MM, (Contact Details).
Sampling Sound Collection
Intended primarily for use with Korg's own SDD2000 sampling delay — though obviously usable with any sampler — this collection spans 165 different recorded sounds, all housed neatly on one cassette. That figure doesn't mean there's necessarily that much variety; there are no fewer than 22 electric guitar samples, and only one fewer saxophone recordings, so the tape space gets eaten up pretty quickly. But Korg have good reasons for devoting so much space to essentially similar sounding samples - each one has different pitch and/or envelope characteristics from any of the others.
The STP2000 groups families of instruments together, so that the first side contains sound effects, drum sounds (both acoustic and electronic), human voices and strings, while the flip houses brass, guitars and pianos.
The best samples are the most off-the-wall ones, probably because more familiar sounds stand up less well to comparison with our mental picture of what 'the real thing' sounds like. Thus record scratches, 'orchestra hits', whistles and fireworks are striking in their precision and clarity. Much the same can be said for that old Japanese favourite, the shakuhachi - but why only one sample of this when there are six electric pianos, three closed hi-hats, and a canary?
The collection's cassette format obviously imposes restrictions on sound quality. There's no way you're realistically going to capture nearly 165 sounds on a piece of tape only a matter of microns thick, and there was some annoying pre-echo on our copy.
Yet given these limitations, the overall sound quality is commendably high, with many samples having benefited from careful miking and the addition of reverb. Each sound is prefaced by a serious BBC announcer's voice to tell you what it's called, and an easily locatable tone. There's even a set of instructions on how to sample from the tape properly.
For what it costs, this collection is something no sampler owner should be without.
Although one of the simpler patches we've had in to test, 'Starshine' is a very creditable, and usable, synth sound. Whether it lives up to the author's description of a "star-twinkling attack with a heart-melting 'Wish You Were Here'-style sustain" is a matter for subjective argument, of course. And even if it isn't quite your cup of tea, it's a useful starting point for some further editing: try taking the Octave Range down to -1, and applying Ring Mod for a different but equally interesting result.
R S Treadwell
As if the very idea of a Space Sitar wasn't enough, the creator adds that another effect can be obtained by setting the DCO's LFO to 4. We had to substitute an Alpha Juno 2 to check out this cosmic creation, so we're not altogether sure what resemblance the translation bore to a patch intended for the 106. However, our version was a nicely atmospheric sweep, well suited to haunting film music and gentle instrumental introductions... What's yours like?
Mount Pleasant, Swansea
Now, where would Patchwork be without a sound tor the DX7? The original Patchwork page was dominated by Voice Data Lists for the world's most popular digital synth, but now that cheaper DX offshoots are gaining in popularity, how about some DX21 sounds for Patchwork MkII?
Robin North, a lecturer in Electronic Music no less, sends us his 'Resin Bass' for the DX7, adding that "it's a strong bass with a 'bite' similar to that heard when an orchestral double bass is bowed strongly". So now you know.
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Feature by Dan Goldstein
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