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Keyboard Magazine 1983(or maybe 82?) Synth programming issue


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I imagine many people have asked about specific back issues of Keyboard Magazine, and if there is a digital archive of the magazine in existence. If there is, I'd love to know about it as well. Right now the specific issue I'm looking for is the Synth Programming issue.


I believe it was a yellow cover that month, and there was one article in particular that I'm looking for, if anyone has that issue and could possible post a screenshot of it.


I was a long list of questions/recommendations/suggestions of sound to try and program, for instance "A harp with 50' strings" ..."now that same harp at the bottom of a lake", "a 2 inch trombone made of glass"...etc. The idea being, here are 50 or more different ideas of sounds to try and come up with. I remember it being a fun and interesting programming challenge at the time. (and had only my Prophet-600 and DX7 to work with)


Anyway, I don't know if I'm explaining it or describing it well, but if anyone has that issue, they can probably find the section I'm speaking of fairly quickly. So, if by chance you have it, and are willing to share a screen shot of it here, that'd be awesome.


Thank you, steadyb

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Here it is...


Program the sound of a millipede race. Extra points for getting all five millipedes running the track at once.


For the sunken cathedral scene, we need the sound of an acoustic piano being played under water.


That"s not bad at all, but you forgot the seaweed growing in the piano. Also, there are lobsters crawling on the keyboard.


We want the world"s largest cast iron-tuba.


We need some background music for a commercial about the world"s first all electronic, fully automatic digital can opener. The sound should reflect both the solid European craftsmanship and the obvious sex appeal of the product.


Without going into the rec room and listening (that would be cheating), make the sound of a ping-pong ball hitting a paddle.


Now substitute a sandpaper paddle for the rubber one.


We changed our mind about the cast-iron tuba. We still need a tuba, but it should be less than 3 inches long and made of plastic.


Program a sound that"s halfway between tubular bells and a dentist"s drill. Extra points for doing this without MIDIing or layering the keyboard.


Without using outboard distortion effects, give us the distorted electric guitar sound of Jimi Hendrix at the Filmore West.


Starting from scratch, do an all-purpose string orchestra pad.


Doctor Frankentein"s monster rises from the slab and lurches to his feet. Program the sound of his first groan.


Do a beautiful chime sound suitable for putting on a tape loop or repeating sequence in a child"s nursery.


Program a brighter-than-reality French horn to punch up an orchestral track.


Do Jimmy Smith"s drawbar organ sound. For extra points, do it with and without percussion on the attack.


Now take that organ and without using an outboard effect make it sound like it"s going through a fuzz box.


How about a marimba with a double bounce on the attack?


Now try a harpsichord, but make it sound like you"re listening with cotton in your ears.


Set up a demo sound so spectacular that it makes your instrument sound as if it costs three times as much as it actually did.


Now try a lead sound that would fit into a Saturday morning cartoon.


Get a sound you"ve never heard before. Make sure you can use it musically.


We"re doing the soundtrack for a science fiction epic, and we need the sound of the whole world being blown to smithereens by a plasma ray from the planet Zarkon in the tenth dimension. Oh, almost forgot to mention - they"re bad shots, and they missed Nebraska.


Now do the same sound, but in a completely different way.


Make the sound of the devil"s violin playing a furious hoedown.


Make a solo acoustic guitar sound bland and pretty enough to be suitable for Muzak.


Do a brass fanfare suitable for the opening credits on the nightly news.


Now try the sound of a marching band at the other end of the Holland tunnel at 5:30 in the morning.


Recreate the bass line sound from Thomas Dolby"s 'Windpower'.


Try the harmonica sound Donald Fagen uses for playing solos.


Recreate the sound of common living room furniture.


Handel had a headache today, but we have to deliver the master tape to New York tomorrow, so we need the entire Hallelujah chorus (100 voices minimum) in the studio right now.


The murderer wore thongs. Make that sound.



By Dominic Milano




Special thank you to Tom Williams. You provided the quote that helped me to find the above article. Much appreciated Tom!!!





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Well if you"re making a synth lead for an 80"s cartoon, I"d say it would be something like a square or saw wave with a highly resonant filter envelope.

For brass people would be using 2 sawtooth waves with a filter and/or pitch envelope.

For a cotton ear harpsichord you could take a harpsichord patch and filter it a little.

Yamaha MX49, Casio SK1/WK-7600, Korg Minilogue, Alesis SR-16, Casio CT-X3000, FL Studio, many VSTs, percussion, woodwinds, strings, and sound effects.
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The art is great too. Rick Eberle. A keyboardist staring at a piece of paper with a black circle on it, then imagining the circle as a black hole full of colorful music ideas. I've got that issue, although it will head out the door with all my others as soon as I nail down a transaction that will work (a very good prospect is working out shipping details, as these beeyatches be HEVAAY).

Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) :D

Musician, Author, Editor, Educator, Impresario, Online Radio Guy, Cut-Rate Polymath, and Kindly Pedant

Editor-in-Chief, Bjooks ~ Author of SYNTH GEMS 1


clicky!:  more about me ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job ~ my bookmy music

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I'm pretty sure that the article preceded ROMplers, as well as built-in effects chains beyond a simple chorus. No filtered harpsichord samples, f'rinstance. I tried to go through the list with a friend's Radio Shack / Moog Concertmate synthesizer; I think I proudly reached about 20% success.


That was one of the best KB magazines ever. (I subscribed from Contemporary Keyboard with piano lessons, up through shortly after Freff's unmasking.) Some highlights -- possibly misremembered or conflated with other issues -- included comparison of additive, subtractive, and FM synthesis in terms of painting; an imaginary synth programming olympics where your keyboard was MIDI'd to a brass band; potential definitions of "punchy" including [a] raising the filter resonance and lowering the filter resonance; and a lament that they couldn't cost-justify including a blow-in Poly-800 in the issue.

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361


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sorry for the partial thread-jack, but do anyone of you know how to find an archive list for Electronic Musician in the mid-80s?


As a mid-20s Grad Student, I wrote and article that they actually published. But, 35 years later, I don't have a copy, or even remember when exactly it was published (85 or 86?).


I've done some light googling, but so far have had no luck finding a list of EM issues/articles from that era.


If anyone has any tips, I would really appreciate it (obviously, I have too much time on my hands these days!)

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Love those sound descriptionsâ¦


Years ago I was doing a session and the artist wanted a pad type sound for a ballad. And, of course, I asked him to describe the sound.


'Make it sound like you"re all alone on a train at night and everybody"s asleep'.


hmmm⦠nothing left open for interpretation thereâ¦


So, at the time I had a big rack with all the blinking lights that impress those typesâ¦I had dialed up a combo of chorused Rhodes, strings and a choir.


'No, that"s not it'.


I took out the choir, pretended to push buttons & slide sliders, played around for about 30 seconds and slowly put the choir back inâ¦


'That"s it!'


I love my jobâ¦

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I've got that issue, although it will head out the door with all my others as soon as I nail down a transaction that will work (a very good prospect is working out shipping details, as these beeyatches be HEVAAY).
As someone who used to work in that particular area, know that Media Mail is your friend!

Samuel B. Lupowitz

Musician. Songwriter. Food Enthusiast. Bad Pun Aficionado.

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