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The Long Lost Patch

...and how I rediscovered it

by Ben | 1st Oct 2017

I've mentioned here before that when I was young, and these magazines were basically my only way into getting news and info about synths and music technology, that one of the really cool things was the printouts of user-contributed synth patches (you can browse the "Synthesiser Patches" topic here).

The first reasonably modern digital synth I had was a Casio CZ-101, and as an inexpensive programmable synth with MIDI, it was extremely popular - and so CZ patches were quite common in magazines of the time - I think this one would have been my first "free" patch, from Making Music #2 - "Rocko Pompo Mit Echo".

Of course, like all synth patches, a given patch's usefulness will vary, so sometimes you'd key in a new patch in a mag and be dissapointed, but sometimes you'd get something very cool and useful.

Needless to say, I programmed my CZ a lot, used it all the time in my music, and built up a patch library. I recall at one point I had an A4 binder with photocopied patch sheets with my patches and other favourites in (before I had a computer), which expanded when got an Atari ST for music and I could save/edit patches on the computer (and again when I discovered the Internet in the early nineties and could find more patches online).

My Atari ST and my CZ-101 are long gone now, and while I thought I'd saved/preserved a lot of my patch libraries for various synths over the years, I couldn't seem to locate them anywhere - a lot of those files I had thought were gone for good, lost in various transfers between computers and platforms over the years - all I had left was a load of early music recordings from boxes full of old cassettes as an audio reminder.

Recovery Part 1

As part of clearing out a load of old stuff for a house move, I came across an old box of floppies, so I dug out my old PC with a floppy drive, and went through them in case there were any old Atari files I'd still want before disposing of them. Some of these floppies included backups of various songs, which would include the Creator/Logic song files, some samples, and often the patches/sysex used - and here were at least some of the common CZ patches I used for those songs - great!

However, these were saved in a non-standard format - when I started using SoundDiver to manage my synths, it did not support the CZ series as their sysex handshaking was a bit non-standard - so I had written my own CZ-101 custom adaption, which had some workarounds but which basically worked, even though the data was stored differently. So if I was going to recover these patches, I would need to recover my custom SoundDiver Atari adaption file as well.

Recovery Part 2

There were two patches (not my own patches) in particular that I remembered liking and using a lot from the CZ-101. One was "Pitch Spit Brass", a sort of stabby brass sound with a distinctive pitch bend attack, and there was another longer more ambient patch that I couldn't remember the name of (the CZ-101 doesn't handle or display patch names at all), but that I really liked and used quite a bit. I assumed both of these had likely come from the aforementioned magazine patch freebies along my travels. (Before the internet, the only way I got patches not made by me or the Casio presets, was magazine patches, and I purchased this CZ-101 patch book at some point...)

I already had an emulated Atari ST on my computer (originally with Gemulator on the PC, and then Hatari on the Mac) and had copied off some of the important stuff off my old Atari hard drive some years before, but the hard drive itself was no longer working, so there was no chance of recovering anything else from it.

Going through a bunch of old unlabelled DVDRs in another box, I found one 150MB zip file in an inocuous folder, and this turned out to have a nice backup of that old hard drive - not complete, I had obviously done this while the drive was still in use so it didn't contain some of the later Logic files (shame!), but there was a lot of stuff on here that I had no other copy of, including my SoundDiver Atari installation (with my custom CZ101 adaption), my synth patch library in SoundDiver format, and the various PD/shareware editors I had used *before* SoundDiver, with a bunch of patches in those various formats too. Goldmine!

So I transferred all that stuff and started to explore...

So, SoundDiver Atari wouldn't run as it requires the copy-protected master disk (which I had but wouldn't work in the emulator) - it took some effort and three different versions of SoundDiver but I finally got my old adaption working, the patches loaded and dumped into a recently acquired Casio CZ-1, and then back out in a more useful format.

And while a few of the patches I remembered were there, the libraries *didn't* contain that particular patch I was looking for.

Recovery Part 3

And as for the various banks of mine I had found for the Atari ST program CZPhonix - I had forgotten I used this until rediscovering it jogged my memory - I couldn't get them *out* as there were no Atari ST emulators that would transmit MIDI, and the program had no export features - rather than transcribing the data by hand, I ended up reverse-engineering the file format of the program and converting them to standard sysex files.

Once done, I had basically all of my old CZ patches back, and could load them into the CZ-1 and the VirtualCZ plugin, and play then again, and they were pretty much all there - the various bass sounds I had used in particular songs, other sounds I remembered fondly, and I found the brass patch I had remembered - actually, it wasn't "Pitch Spit Brass", (that one was not as good), it was actually "Pitch Spit Br2", a better sounding variant.

So everything was there - *except* that one other elusive patch, the one that I really wanted back. I went through everything, all my stuff, all the song libraries, and all the other CZ patches downloaded from the Internet, checked out all the other Atari ST CZ programs and their included sound banks in case the patch came from there. It was nowhere to be found. Isn't that always the way?

Recovery Part 4

So one of the benefits of doing mu:zines is that I get to revisit my old magazines I had - and if my hunch was right and those patches had come from magazines I had, then hopefully I'd be able to find it again.

So I started with Music Technology, which had a Patchwork series, and went through all the issues I had, re-keying in any CZ patches I found, in the hope that a name would jog my memory, or I'd find the patch. And while I did rediscover some other patches I'd remembered (up to 30 years ago!), I couldn't find *that* patch. However, in completing the MT (and E&MM before) collection there were a lot more patches from issues I'd never had. My "Magazines Patches" folder in the VirtualCZ library was growing!

Then as I went through scanning my Making Music copies, I saw and remembered that in the early issues they also had reader patches that I enjoyed back in the day - there was a good chance that the missing patch came from there. And again, I worked through all the CZ patches I could find in those issues, and still no joy. (We've collected and scanned the bulk of these, and we have all the issues that featured patches.) So it didn't come from Making Music either.

Other mags I had read back then included Sound On Sound and Home & Studio Recording, The Mix and some others, but those didn't have synth patches.

I even listened to some of these old cassette noodlings, and tried to see if I could recreate the patch from what I could hear and remember about it. I didn't get that far with these, it turned out to be quite difficult to replicate the tone.

Recovery Part 5

I had read International Musician & Recording World back in the day, and although I had disposed of my issues previously, I picked up a few on ebay to revisit it and one of those had a reader synth patch - so IM&RW also did synth patches, I hadn't remembered that... interesting... perhaps the missing one came from there?

Well, there were a *lot* of IM&RW issues, running from 1975 to 1991, but as I researched IM&RW, got cover images and so on, I could more or less remember the issues I had. Over time I purchased a few more IM&RW's that weren't overpriced for the site, and received a few that other people had scanned, and each time, if it was from the right sort of era, 1987-1990ish, I'd check it for synth patches.

Still no go, but I still didn't have very many issues at this time.

And then this last week I picked up a few IM&RW bundles for the site from ebay, and in doing so, had basically re-bought most of the issues I originally owned. There were about ten issues that had CZ patches - so again, I spent a few minutes re-keying in each patch, in the hope...

And then I came to IM&RW May '88, with this patch: ->

Straight away, looking at the patch data, I saw that some of the values are non-sensical (for example, there are envelope values listed after the "END" point, which makes no sense, and there is a lack of "SUS"/"END" values for some of the envelopes), and something tucked away *far* in the back of my brain woke up and basically said "Hmm, this non-sensical values thing rings a bell. I've dealt with this before..."

And yes, literally about the *last* CZ patch I had come across in *all* the mags I'd been collecting and scanning, was the elusive patch, "String Bass".

I now have it back. It sounds like this:

Thank you "A C Batt" of Kent, for the patch!

You can download my current "Magazine Patches" bank, which includes the "String Bass" patch, for the CZ synths and VirtualCZ plugin:

- VirtualCZ (VST3 format) - download (67Kb)
- VirtualCZ (AU Preset format for Logic) - download (264Kb)
- Sysex (for CZ synths) - download (10Kb)

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