Synthesized Day 1 - Saturday 25th June 2022
Synthesized is a two day festival celebrating the computer and synthesiser - and how the two technologies grew up together.
The two technologies have crossed paths many times since the CSIRAC mainframe played the "Colonel Bogey March” in 1951. The mighty Fairlight CMI, the PPG and the humble Dragon 32 both share the same processor - as do the Moog Source, Prophet-5 and the ZX Spectrum.
By 1990, the Atari ST found its way into almost every recording studio. Technologies from the flagship Yamaha DX7 and Roland D-50 found their way into almost every PC sound card of the 1990s. Today, modern computers can emulate almost any classic synthesiser with near perfect accuracy.
Without computers we wouldn’t have FM, wavetable, additive and phase distortion synthesis - or even be able to save the sounds on our analog synthesiser.
This year it's a special celebration - MIDI, the protocol that allows our synthesisers and computers to talk to each other, is 40 years old this year. We'll be demonstrating the power of this little five-pin cable that all electronic musicians know and love by showing a range of MIDI equipped computers.
It's with much sadness with note that Dave Smith, a key player in the development of MIDI and founder of Sequential Circuits and designer of the groundbreaking Prophet-5, has recently died at the age of 72.
Over the years we've were lucky enough to have a Fairlight CMI, a PPG Waveterm and a Greengate DS4 together in the same room. We even had Colin Holgate from Greengate and John Molloy from 80s band Mainframe to demonstrate it to us.
This year we hope the event will be even bigger, even better, even noisier and will have more wonderful synthesisers for everyone to see and use! While we're waiting to confirm exhibitors for this year - and to get you all in the mood - here's some pictures from the last event.
As ever, we’ll have the our collection of synthesiser out for everyone to play on - bring your own headphones! We’ll also have demonstrations of the iconic synthesisers and computer music systems of the 80s and 90s, plus some examples of the very latest technologies too. Keep checking back to see what’s happening!
We'd love you to bring your own synthesisers, music computers, drum machines or anything else you'd think would be of interest. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to be involved.
Exhibitors for Day One
Rob Puricelli, Fairlight Enthusiast & Restorer and Music Technology Blogger
Rob Puricelli is a Music Technologist and Instructional Designer who has a healthy obsession with classic synthesizers and their history.
In conjunction with former Fairlight Studio Manager, Peter Wielk, he fixes and restores Fairlight CMI’s so that they can enjoy prolonged and productive lives with new owners.
Rob writes reviews and articles for Sound On Sound, his website Failed Muso, and other music-related publications, as well as hosting a weekly livestream on YouTube for the Pro Synth Network and guesting on numerous music technology podcasts and shows. He also works alongside a number of manufacturers, demonstrating their products and lecturing at various educational and vocational establishments about music technology.
Pro Synth Network; https://www.youtube.com/c/prosynthnetwork
Liam produces music under the moniker ‘equinoxe’, named after his favourite album. His music, heavily inspired by Jean-Michel Jarre, started many years ago written using tracker software on the Commodore 64 and Amiga computers. A lifelong Cubase user, Liam mostly produces music using his expansive hardware synth collection.
Liam will be bringing a number of classic and modern synthesisers such as the Korg MS-20 mini, Novation MiniNova, Waldorf Pulse 2 and Roland’s last ‘true’ analog polysynth - the JX-10 Super JX - as well more unusual equipment such as the Theremin and a Mssiah equipped Commodore 64 with can be played over MIDI. All the synths will be playable and Liam is more than happy to explain the sound programming aspects of each machine.
Liam will be entertaining us on Saturday with a session of synth classics, original music and chipmusic. His synths are (nearly) all connected via MIDI to Ableton Live and shows that 40 year old tech is just as usable in music today as it has always been. Watch this space for more details and times closer to the day!
Dr. Alan Ip
Dr. Alan Ip - Musician/Music Producer, Vintage Synth DIYer/Collector, University Lecturer, Principal Software Program Manager (Cloud & AI) Alan will bring his favorite pre-MIDI era analog synthesizers such as the ARP 2600, together with two infamous hardware sequencers, including the vintage Roland MC-4 MicroComposer - an early microprocessor-based music sequencer that revolutionized electronic music composition in the 80s, and the modern Sequentix Cirklon - a multi-track sequencer which offers the rock-solid timing as the vintage predecessors with modern functionality and multi-connectivity of USB, MIDI, CV/Gate, and Dinsync.
The Greengate DS:4
Martin Ley (of Twilight Passion) and Colin Holgate (co-founder of Greengate) donated to the museum a Greengate DS:4, probably the only working example in the world. Greengate built this budget British Fairlight, based around an Apple IIe, from 1982 to 1987. It was used by bands such as Mainframe, The JAMs (aka The KLF), New Order and even appears on "I want your sex" by George Michael. We were very lucky to be joined by John Molloy of 80s band Mainframe, who were closely involved in its development, to demonstrate it to us.
In memory of John who has since very sadly passed away, we will get the DS:4 running again to demonstrate it and hopefully premier a new piece of music written for it.
Tony (@herebedragons3) will be using the power of MIDI - and the computer we all associate with MIDI sequencing, the Atari ST - to demonstrate the museum's Greengate DS:4 and that other classic music computer, the Yamaha CX5M.
Synth modifier, DIYer, repairer and customer drum sounds maker. Since his first dabbling with synths back in 1985, he has amassed a broad collection of synths, rack synths, samplers and drum machines and is mostly stuck in the 80s. Chris will be showing his Roland Juno 106, modified Korg DW-8000, modified Yamaha CS-10 and Emu Drumulator with custom sounds. https://www.youtube.com/user/Synthasy2000/videos
To help us celebrate MIDI's 40th birthday, Andy will be demonstrating MIDI running on more unlikely computers such as the ZX Spectrum (also 40 this year!) and the Amstrad CPC.
Andy is a volunteer here at the museum, a collector of retro computers and a licensed amateur radio operator with the call-sign M1NER.
Paula will be bringing the Unix based Modal 002 and a selection of her wavetable based modules for modular synthesisers.
Darren Blaxcell - Rakits
Darren will be showing off a selection of noisy electronic kits he develops for Rakit. As an electronic engineer with a keen interest in all things stuck to a PCB he looks foward to chatting about synths, electronics, DIY kits and soldering.
https://www.rakits.co.uk/ - fun, noisy electronic kit projects at affordable prices for a range of ages and skill levels.
Come and take a look at the awesome Atmegatron Synth - a mini 8-bit synth based around an Arduino! They'll also be bringing along some fantastic retro gear including a Mac Plus running Trax, Fostex R8 8-track, Emu Drumulator, Sequential Pro One, Yamaha DX7 IIFD, Roland Juno 60, Ensoniq ESQ1.
Checkout the Atmegatron and other Soulsby synths here : http://soulsbysynths.com/
Other Equipment on Display
Come and experience some classic machines of the 80s and 90s including as well as some modern gear :
Saturday 10am - 7pm
Sunday: 10am - 5pm
* Concessions include Students, OAPs, Disabled and Carers.
Payment is taken by PayPal immediately. Please print a copy of the receipt that is displayed at the end of the payment process and bring it with you as your e-ticket.
Cancellations: Due to the limited number of places available for this event, we are unable to refund tickets when cancelled less than 7 days before the event.
Remember - All proceeds go to support our Computing Museum!