In this month's issue we examine a variety of topics and equipment all with the underlying thought of how the musical instruments and recording techniques of today are creatively more inseparable than ever before.
For example, there are three different recorders reviewed within this issue. The traditional definition of a recorder must now be re-assessed and categorised by asking the question 'what type of recorder is it?' Analogue tape, MIDI sequencer or digital?
The means at our disposal to record music are rapidly increasing to embrace the digital medium even further, witness the Sony Video 8 machine reviewed on page 74, giving an incredible six channels of stereo digital sound. In America there's Compusonics who are developing a high quality digital sound recording system that uses standard computer floppy disks for storage, and in England too, AMS have the Audiofile. Also reviewed in this issue is the new Linn 32-track MIDI Sequencer which offers immense control power.
The act of recording can now be interpreted in a far broader sense. It's now time for people to stop thinking in terms of keyboard sequencers and view them as event recorders. In this month's installment Effective Automation, the role of the sequencer is not to record pitch data but to store MIDI program change information. This approach and usage of sequencers will soon start to open up a broader field of 'users' as the non-musician recording engineer recognises the wider applications of MIDI sequencers. The fact is that MIDI sequencers are mostly manufactured by keyboard companies which, rightly so, orientate their marketing firmly towards the keyboardist. But change the name on the front panel of a sequencer to something like 'Automated Effects Controller' and you immediately create a lot of interest from the recording studio side.
The problem, if we can call it a problem, is one of attitude. Nowhere more so than with the current range of 'samplers' on the market, is the division between keyboard and non-keyboard manufacturers' approaches to effects design more apparent. All keyboard company samplers are MIDI controllable whether they have an integral keyboard or not. On the other hand, the samplers from the more traditional studio effects manufacturers lack MIDI control and only offer the option of the older, less versatile CV pitch control system. Why? Surely a studio would welcome the ability to use samplers as creatively as the keyboard guys. The control of your effects switching, routing and sampler, all driven off timecode from tape is what a great deal of studios would swoon at!
The time has come to put this imbalance right. 1986 should see the applications of MIDI reach even further into our lives and not just in the form of more keyboards, drum machines and sequencers, but through the introduction of more controllable effects, SMPTE-to-MIDI control systems and mixers. There is no reason in the world why a small Audio-Visual recording studio that's never had a synthesizer through its doors in its life, should be denied the opportunity to use the power of MIDI controlled effects like reverb and echo for the production of jingles etc. MIDI is not a word that should frighten people who have nothing to do with synthesizers, so come on give it a chance.
Talking of attitudes, this month's cover artist, Nik Kershaw, is someone who you'd probably never have guessed was deeply involved with the technology of recording and synthesizers. His public 'teenage idol' image having hidden this aspect of his personality. To this end, Nick Webb's interview with Nik Kershaw reveals many interesting comments about his approach to recording and songwriting. Unfortunately for us, the great record industry machinery prevented photographs being taken of Nik's personal studio.
The reaction to our first two issues has been very encouraging judging by the letters and phone calls that are now very much a part of daily editorial life and it's good to hear that so many of you have found the magazine to be 'just right'.
All that's left is for me to wish you a Merry Christmas on behalf of all the magazine staff. Cheers...
(PS. Mine's a gin and tonic... Gilbey's, of course).
Editorial by Ian Gilby
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