2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...

Sacred Synthesis

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #40 on: February 15, 2018, 11:15:03 AM »
If synthesizers weren't shrinking you most people wouldn't be able to afford them.

It's the keyboards that are shrinking.  And besides, I'm not so sure about that.  In working out a Trentassete synthesizer design with Mike from Artisan Electronic Instruments, I asked if I could have a four-octave keyboard instead of three.  He said he could design such an instrument and the extra keys wouldn't cost another penny.  So, adding keys need not add to the expense.

LoboLives

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #41 on: February 15, 2018, 11:16:47 AM »
If synthesizers weren't shrinking you most people wouldn't be able to afford them.

It's the keyboards that are shrinking.  And besides, I'm not so sure about that.  In working out a Trentassete synthesizer design with Mike from Artisan Electronic Instruments, I asked if I could have a four-octave keyboard instead of three.  He said he could design such an instrument and the extra keys wouldn't cost another penny.  So, adding keys need not add to the expense.

I find that hard to believe but I hope it works out for you.

Sacred Synthesis

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #42 on: February 15, 2018, 11:19:48 AM »
I found it hard to believe, too, but I won't argue with him!  But really - how much should another dozen plastic keys cost, plus a little metal and wood?  The sound engine is the same, regardless.  So, I think Behringer could have provided the four octaves at the same approximate price.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 11:30:48 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

LoboLives

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #43 on: February 15, 2018, 11:31:14 AM »
I found it hard to believe, too, but I won't argue with him!  But really - how much should another dozen plastic keys cost?  Ten bucks? Plus a little metal and wood?  The sound engine is the same, regardless.  So, I think Behringer could have provided the four octaves at the same approximate price.

Possibly but I think they are also wondering about the market. A lot people (including) myself would simply have an analog vocoder as PART of a set up not as one of it's main parts. 3 Octaves is fine.

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Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #44 on: February 17, 2018, 08:32:11 PM »
Next vocoder I'd like to see this is one with band controls.  Don't care how many keys it has on it, as long as it has dials and sliders and MIDI IN.

I'm sure Mozart and Bach would have been able to write as creatively whether they were composing on a grand piano or a harpsichord or an ocarina.  Creativity isn't hampered by notes available on an instrument.  I can play Ode To Joy on a recorder.  It uses less than 3 octaves.  The less notes playable on an instrument, the more one uses other elements to be creative with.

LoboLives

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #45 on: February 17, 2018, 10:30:09 PM »
Next vocoder I'd like to see this is one with band controls.  Don't care how many keys it has on it, as long as it has dials and sliders and MIDI IN.

I'm sure Mozart and Bach would have been able to write as creatively whether they were composing on a grand piano or a harpsichord or an ocarina.  Creativity isn't hampered by notes available on an instrument.  I can play Ode To Joy on a recorder.  It uses less than 3 octaves.  The less notes playable on an instrument, the more one uses other elements to be creative with.

Agreed. Anyone who says they canít create due to an instrument simply isnít being creative.

Sacred Synthesis

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #46 on: February 18, 2018, 09:19:55 AM »
I'm sure Mozart and Bach would have been able to write as creatively whether they were composing on a grand piano or a harpsichord or an ocarina.  Creativity isn't hampered by notes available on an instrument.  I can play Ode To Joy on a recorder.  It uses less than 3 octaves.  The less notes playable on an instrument, the more one uses other elements to be creative with.

You're only proving my point.  First of all, a typical pipe organ - which was Bach's instrument of choice - covers many octaves, having pipes that range from 32' t0 1'.  Mozart, who could have composed exclusively for the little clavichord, chose instead the developing fortepiano - the most dramatic percussive keyboard instrument of his time. 

As I'm sure you know, the famous "Ode to Joy" melody is only one theme from Beethoven's massive Ninth Symphony, which includes full orchestra and a full choir.  Yes, a melody can consist of a limited range, and a fine one will sound fine even on a $3 tin whistle.  But appreciate the fact that such popular melodies are often derived from massive works.

There's no argument that a musical genius can write for a limited range.  But it's even more true that musical geniuses prefer a wide range of choices, from the narrow to the wide, from the miniscule to the gigantic.  But I guarantee you, if Bach and Mozart had limited their music to three-octave keyboards, we would never have heard of their names.  So, can you name one famous keyboardist of any style that confined himself or herself to three octaves throughout an entire career?  If your claim is true, there should be many such persons.

There's an Irish melody called "Slane" that is used for a hymn called "Lord of all Hopefulness."  The melody, which covers about a 1 1/2 octave range, is in E-flat Major and requires a B-flat - the note just below the lowest C on a standard C-C three-octave keyboards.  I like to arrange hymn tunes, playing them at various octaves.  In this particular case, it can't be done.  The three-octave keyboard can provide for only one mid-octave playing of the melody.  That's just one off-the-top-of-my-head example of the issues involved in diminutive keyboards. 

If you want to be confined in your composing, fine.  But sometimes inspiration requires more than a little keyboard can provide.  And what then?  Clickity-click with octave buttons while both hands are playing?  It's not an option.  A five-octave keyboard will allow to you play "Ode to Joy," just as well as will a three-octave keyboard.  But of course, if you want to play a rendition of the Ninth Symphony, lots of luck with the three octaves.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2018, 09:30:50 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

LoboLives

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #47 on: February 18, 2018, 10:22:58 AM »
I'm sure Mozart and Bach would have been able to write as creatively whether they were composing on a grand piano or a harpsichord or an ocarina.  Creativity isn't hampered by notes available on an instrument.  I can play Ode To Joy on a recorder.  It uses less than 3 octaves.  The less notes playable on an instrument, the more one uses other elements to be creative with.

You're only proving my point.  First of all, a typical pipe organ - which was Bach's instrument of choice - covers many octaves, having pipes that range from 32' t0 1'.  Mozart, who could have composed exclusively for the little clavichord, chose instead the developing fortepiano - the most dramatic percussive keyboard instrument of his time. 

As I'm sure you know, the famous "Ode to Joy" melody is only one theme from Beethoven's massive Ninth Symphony, which includes full orchestra and a full choir.  Yes, a melody can consist of a limited range, and a fine one will sound fine even on a $3 tin whistle.  But appreciate the fact that such popular melodies are often derived from massive works.

There's no argument that a musical genius can write for a limited range.  But it's even more true that musical geniuses prefer a wide range of choices, from the narrow to the wide, from the miniscule to the gigantic.  But I guarantee you, if Bach and Mozart had limited their music to three-octave keyboards, we would never have heard of their names.  So, can you name one famous keyboardist of any style that confined himself or herself to three octaves throughout an entire career?  If your claim is true, there should be many such persons.

There's an Irish melody called "Slane" that is used for a hymn called "Lord of all Hopefulness."  The melody, which covers about a 1 1/2 octave range, is in E-flat Major and requires a B-flat - the note just below the lowest C on a standard C-C three-octave keyboards.  I like to arrange hymn tunes, playing them at various octaves.  In this particular case, it can't be done.  The three-octave keyboard can provide for only one mid-octave playing of the melody.  That's just one off-the-top-of-my-head example of the issues involved in diminutive keyboards. 

If you want to be confined in your composing, fine.  But sometimes inspiration requires more than a little keyboard can provide.  And what then? Clickity-click with octave buttons while both hands are playing?  It's not an option.  A five-octave keyboard will allow to you play "Ode to Joy," just as well as will a three-octave keyboard.  But of course, if you want to play a rendition of the Ninth Symphony, lots of luck with the three octaves.

Use midi

Sacred Synthesis

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #48 on: February 18, 2018, 10:54:14 AM »
Use midi

To what - a five-octave keyboard?  Exactly.

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Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #49 on: February 18, 2018, 11:34:28 AM »
Back when I paid attention to workstation synthesizers, they were usually offered in several sizes. You'd have pretty much exactly the same synth in 61, 76, and 88-key models. I just checked out Guitar Center to familiarize myself with the 2018 workstation landscape, and this seems to still be the case. There's Yamaha Montage 6/7/8, Roland FA-06/07/08, and Korg Kronos in 61, 73 (sic), and 88-key versions.

I realize that analog and specialty synths are different than workstations. They don't need to start at 61 keys like workstations do. But different musicians value different things, so I can see the case for providing 49 and 61 key versions of "flagship" polyphonic instruments. I think the Prophet 6 and OB6 definitely fall into this category. Korg is doing this with the Prologue, and it's a good idea.

We all have to balance available physical space against what's playable, and instrument makers should accommodate that.
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Sacred Synthesis

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #50 on: February 18, 2018, 11:52:06 AM »
We all have to balance available physical space against what's playable, and instrument makers should accommodate that.

That's true, and it would send this discussion in a completely different direction.  Thus far, though, space hasn't been the main problem.  Perhaps key to the disagreement, however, is the issue of ensemble vs. solo vs. multi-tracking.  A three-octave keyboard would be adequate if the bass part is played by another musician, a sequencer, or an additional track, if accompaniment is added, and if other musical elements are added as well.  But that would only make my point.  I would then fully agree that a three-octave monophonic synthesizer might be more than enough...for that part.  Perhaps one octave might be enough for one part.  But the claim that if you need five octaves on a keyboard then you're obviously lacking in talent is absurd.

Please consider the format of a single synthesist performing a complete synthesizer composition in one play - no ensemble or band, no sequencer, no looping, and no multi-tracking.  In other words, nothing else to fill in the emptiness left by that one little mono synth.  This is the format I'm referring to, and it equally applies to a keyboard composition by a great classical composer.  Why on earth would such a musician in such a situation place unnecessary limitations on their composing or performing, such that the instrument, rather then enable them, would handicap them?  What is the objective in confining music that longs to stretch itself out?

« Last Edit: February 18, 2018, 12:12:08 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

chysn

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Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #51 on: February 18, 2018, 12:11:43 PM »
Sure, I made an assumption about space being one of the axes here, and maybe that's not the case. Maybe it's portability or cost, or something else. The point remains, there's value to choice for musicians.

Keyboard size has never been much of a concern for me. 61 keys is inadequate to play Scott Joplin, so I'll stick with my actual piano for piano-playing, and my synthesizer life is rapidly approaching zero-keys.

But I don't subscribe to the idea that Beethoven would have been fine with 37 keys. He might have been a genius, but he composed by improvising, and we wouldn't have, for example, Sonata Pathetique in three octaves. And there are no Beethovens here, anyway, with all due respect, so we need every advantage that we can get.
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dslsynth

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Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #52 on: February 18, 2018, 12:13:29 PM »
This conversation about keyboard sizes sounds to me like an advertisement for modules.

Bonus points for such modules having USB hosting capability so a class compliant USB/MIDI controller can be powered and interfaced directly from the USB host port on the synth.
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Sacred Synthesis

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #53 on: February 18, 2018, 12:20:16 PM »
Sure, I made an assumption about space being one of the axes here, and maybe that's not the case. Maybe it's portability or cost, or something else. The point remains, there's value to choice for musicians.

Keyboard size has never been much of a concern for me. 61 keys is inadequate to play Scott Joplin, so I'll stick with my actual piano for piano-playing, and my synthesizer life is rapidly approaching zero-keys.

But I don't subscribe to the idea that Beethoven would have been fine with 37 keys. He might have been a genius, but he composed by improvising, and we wouldn't have, for example, Sonata Pathetique in three octaves. And there are no Beethovens here, anyway, with all due respect, so we need every advantage that we can get.

I heartily agree with your points.  I'm all for variety in synthesizer sizes and prices (hence, I had a MEK), but I place a priority on music itself.  I've taken issue only with the claim that, in principle, little instruments are enough, and if they aren't, then someone is suffering from a paucity of talent.  That seems to presume that those with three-octave instruments are churning out masterpieces left and right, and I haven't seen or heard any proof if this.  And I don't mean short solos accompanied by a full band or ensemble; I mean complete compositions.

Heck, why should anyone need a full three indulgent octaves?  Why not set the standard at one, if it's only talent that matters?
« Last Edit: February 18, 2018, 12:34:39 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

chysn

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Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #54 on: February 18, 2018, 12:23:57 PM »
This conversation about keyboard sizes sounds to me like an advertisement for modules.

Maybe that was the original idea, but I totally get wanting the keyboard and controls to be integrated. For one thing, the spacing of controls on modules is invariably worse.
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chysn

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Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #55 on: February 18, 2018, 12:30:35 PM »
I've taken issue only with the claim that, in principle, little instruments are enough, and if they aren't, then someone is suffering from a paucity of talent.  If such is the case, then why not cut things down to one octave?  Why should anyone need three?

Right. I think that your reductio ad absurdum is sound here.

Reminds me of the old programmer's joke.

Old programmer: "Back in my day, we didn't have these fancy compilers. We did just fine with assemblers!"
Older programmer: "You had ASSEMBLERS? Back in my day, we did just fine with ones and zeros!"
Even Older programmer: "You had ZEROS?"
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Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #56 on: February 20, 2018, 01:14:09 AM »
Agreed on different sizes catering for different purposes. ... MIDI has a little latency, & supposedly, a little jitter. Sometimes, some folks don't want that.

When you're playing a piano-analog, one sustain pedal for what both your hands are triggering is essential. When the single keyboard can trigger 8, 16 voices, all the better.

And of course, small keyboards have their place. For "ensemble"-analogs. (Easier physical setups for these ensembles.)

I know I play differently if I'm playing two-handedly on one keyboard, one sound or duet-style on a multi-timbral or multiple keyboard setup.

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Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #57 on: February 21, 2018, 09:11:26 PM »
String machines and vocoders....do you think that 2019 will be the year of cheap vocoding string machines on the 2nd hand market or will the trend solidify into a staple of popular music composition?  I personally can't stand the "do you believe in love" sound in any form of music, but am not too horrified by the vocoder.  Vocoders are fun as a musical effect too.  And as for string machines, will the fashion die out as it did 30yrs ago?  We don't seem to be have an imminent new form of synthesis on the way to kill the string machine's use as a separate sound generator to all others this time around.  I do like my Streichfett, it has a quality I don't get out of my M1's string machine patches so can't be replaced by it, but is it a phase I will soon be sick of?  I don't know, but has anyone else recently bought a string machines that is now sitting doing not a whole lot of sound making?

LoboLives

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #58 on: February 22, 2018, 10:05:03 AM »
String machines and vocoders....do you think that 2019 will be the year of cheap vocoding string machines on the 2nd hand market or will the trend solidify into a staple of popular music composition?  I personally can't stand the "do you believe in love" sound in any form of music, but am not too horrified by the vocoder.  Vocoders are fun as a musical effect too.  And as for string machines, will the fashion die out as it did 30yrs ago?  We don't seem to be have an imminent new form of synthesis on the way to kill the string machine's use as a separate sound generator to all others this time around.  I do like my Streichfett, it has a quality I don't get out of my M1's string machine patches so can't be replaced by it, but is it a phase I will soon be sick of?  I don't know, but has anyone else recently bought a string machines that is now sitting doing not a whole lot of sound making?

Not yet ;)

In all seriousness String Machines simply give a different texture or are another color in one's pallet of sounds. Same with Mellotrons, Lo-Fi Samplers, DX7 type tones, Combo Organs, it's all comes together for different things. Would I use it all the time? No. Would I use it as an element alongside by Moog, Prophet 6 or V Piano. You're darn tootin.

Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
« Reply #59 on: March 02, 2018, 02:33:35 PM »
I can only second that. My Siel Orchestra (= ARP Quartet) has a vivid sound, a character, and a warmth on its own. No external effects needed for the strings. For the piano and brass sounds I sometimes use some analog delay (e.g. Boss DM-2W). However the strings are just perfect as they are.