Category Archives: Korg

Flying F!

Slowly in my life, I’ve come to realize that every good idea (and also every good melody) is already old in it’s infancy. Somebody somewhere has had the same idea a long time ago and usually they’ve even gone through with it. Maybe some five years back me and a couple of my friends dreamt about building our own midi-controllers with a bit more edge than the normal ones. We were making plans and drawings for building additional parts to a normal run off the mill midi-controller to make it look more “evil” or “heavy-metal”. There was talk of adding “Flying V” -type wings to one end and hanging the new beautiful heavy-synths from our necks like traditional keytars.

Well. Once I was visiting a  second hand recordstore in Uppsala Sweden, I came across this album by a swedish guy called J.C. Barreto made in 1981 which is like 25 years before we had the same idea. On the cover J.C. is posing with an unknown keytar, with added white Flying V -wings, dressed head to toe in white.  Just amazing! The back cover lists grand piano, Prophet 5, Minimoog and digital Clavatar as Barreto’s instruments and as the instrument on the cover sure as hell isn’t any of the three first one’s, it has to be the digital Clavatar -with the gui-tar-like “tar” -ending. The rhythm’s are provided by Korg‘s legendary Rockmate Doncamatic.

At first listen I was terribly dissappointed with this album. When there’s a rare unknown synth on the album cover, the album title is Dr. Love and the vinyl itself is transparent red, you can’t help but get a little excited. Actually I got v-e-r-y e-x-c-i-t-e-d!  But Dr. Love was a real turndown. There’s almost nothing to be heard of the SCI Prophet or The Minimoog here and the songs are all bland middle of the road funk-rock.

Then recently when I was going through my vinyls to sell some of them in a car boot sale, I had a second listen and realised that the title track is actually quite good. The whole album is heavily indebted to Stevie Wonder‘s late 70’s output, but there’s something completely disarming in this swedish guy with a cornrow-hairdo and a good style sense imitating the master. Dr. Love is definitely not the synthiest track ever featured in Turku Synth, but for the album cover alone it deserves it’s place in our blog. As it is also a very much scandinavian obscurity it’s probably not been seen or heard much outside of Sweden, let alone Europe.

Enjoy responsibly,

Tomi / Turku Synth

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Filed under Audio, Korg, Moog, Sequential Circuits, Synthesizer

A couple of vintage synths for sale

Sometimes I wish I had continued my childhood hobby of collecting stamps instead of synths.

Stamps take so little space and you can get shitloads of them from fleamarkets for basically no money at all. Then again there’s no real use for old stamps. My synths I use every day. Well it’s once again time to sell a couple of synths to make room (and money) for new ones. Just 10 minutes ago I put up a classified ad in muusikoiden.net, which is the best website in Finland if you want to buy or sell second hand music gear. It’s not an auction, the prices are fixed and I like it that way.

This time I’m trying to get rid of my erratically working Juno 6 synth which I just can’t seem to have the time or energy to get fixed and then there’s the Korg DW-8000 analog/digital hybrid synth which I just don’t use anymore. It’s just sitting there gathering dust, and it would be better off in a new home with a new excited owner. On top of those two beauties there’s a really rare and beautiful Yamaha TA-60 solid state amplifier from early 1970’s for sale. I just don’t seem to have any use for it although it’s easily the most beautiful guitar-amp I’ve ever seen.

Here are links to the ads I just put up. If you’re interested in any of them, just e-mail me.

http://muusikoiden.net/tori/nayta.php?id=506563

http://muusikoiden.net/tori/nayta.php?id=506573

Tomi / Turku Synth Club

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Filed under For Sale, Korg, Roland, Yamaha

Bridging the generation gap

Last night when I was just about to ready to fall asleep, I had an idea.

That’s the way ideas usually happen.

The next morning you wake up with a nagging empty feeling, that you’ve maybe lost something, but can’t quite put your finger on what’s missing. This time was different. The idea was so profound and exciting, that I couldn’t afford to forget it. I didn’t write it down either, but anyhow, when I got up in the morning I still had it in my mind clear as yesterday.

What if I could tickle and trigger the Arpeggio Trig -inputs on my Korg Mono/Poly and Polysix with just programmed loud audio signals from my midi sequencer? It’s not exactly a groundbreaking idea, it’s been done before, but to me it was something exciting, somethingI had never tried before. My idea was to have just a pulsing rhyhtm fed into the trig in jack that would sync the arpeggios to my midi gear. I knew beforehand, that some people had used their samplers with a certain non musical sample to trigger external equipment, but I had something else in mind. My Akai MPC 2000XL is the tool that I mostly like to use for sequencing, but as I only have the regular stereo-outputs in it and no extra outs, I couldn’t use those because that would’ve ment the loss of drumtrack.

Next to my MPC there’s a Kawai K1 RII rack unit, that I rarely use for anything. It has 4 outputs in addition to it’s regular stereo-pair. So I decided to use this 90’s Kawai racksynth as a midi to trig -converter. I loaded a drum program and a midi sequence into my MPC, programmed a repeating note on a free midi channel for the duration of the whole 4 beats,  fired up the Kawai, put a cable from output 2 into Mono/Poly’s Trig In and then Arpeggio Trig In. No effect, either way. Or at least not the desirable effect. The Mono/Poly started warbling when I flicked the trig polarity switch, but no rhythmic patterns were to be heard anywhere. I was dissapointed and decided that the problem was with the type of sound I had chosen. I went through all the presets and ended up using a basic loud synth sound with fast attack. I programmed the sound to have no sustain or release and step by step went through the sequence shortening the decay of every note to 5 and turning up the velocity to 127. Still no luck.

I tried many things, but eventually gave up. Just when I was ready to turn off the power and forget the whole thing I had the bright idea of routing the signal through my Korg MS-20’s External Signal Processor. With that I finally had success. I adjusted the volume and threshold knobs to get an even pulse, patched the ESP’s trig out into Mono/Poly’s Arpeggio Trig In and from Mono/Poly’s trig out into Polysix’s Arpeggio Trig in. Finally I patched the ESP’s Envelope Out to MS-20’s own trig in and there I had it. I had my midi-sequencer controlling not only numerous midi equipment, but also three non-midi synths and everything was perfectly in sync. I didn’t need control voltage as all I wanted to do was to sync the two arpeggios to my drums and other sequences going on.

I’ve been pining for a Roland TR-707 lately, but with this newfound innovation, I’m in no hurry. It’s not perfect, it’s not beautiful, it’s not meant to be, but it works. That’s all that matters in the end. I finally have my CV/Gate synths happily in sync with my midi synths and sampled drums. As I was testing this configuration I already made one krautish new track. Perfect.

Tomi / Turku Synth Club

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Filed under Akai, Kawai, Korg, Syncing