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Outside the Studio

Outside the Studio
« on: June 28, 2016, 08:28:24 PM »
Hey all,

I got the idea to start a thread to share experiences with using the P12 in contexts outside of the studio. I'm curious to know how people are using this synth in live situations and in other scenarios besides strictly recording or experimenting at home.

To start things off, a friend of mine and I were recently hired to compose music for a theater workshop for young playwrights. It was a two day event with about 7-10 short plays to provide music for on each day. The routine we settled into was to meet briefly with each crew and then return to our studio a short distance away to work out the music and sound effects needed. The pace was hectic and we were generally left with little more than an hour to actually compose and rehearse the cues for all of the plays to be performed that day. Because of the tight schedule we needed to simplify things wherever we could so my partner and I decided to do the entire project with just double bass and the Prophet 12.

This was quite a test of the versatility of this synth and I found that it worked very well during the performances. There were scenes that required some brooding pad sounds to create melodrama, scenes with tinkling fairy tale tunes, a hip hop flavored play and a scene with actors performing some sort of bizarre punk rock inspired ritual.

The final day of the event we packed up our gear and after a very brief pit stop to pick up a burrito for dinner we headed over to a local college radio station to meet the rest of our band with whom we'd be performing live on air. The P12 came along for that of course and was right at home alongside drums, electric bass, guitar, a Rhodes piano and flute.

I came away from those couple of days feeling psyched that this synth works so well in such diverse settings. The playlist function and lots of performance controls are really invaluable for playing live. The playlist function especially comes in handy when going from one musical project to another. If we end up doing that same theater event again next year I suspect I'll probably do the same thing, but likely I would likely incorporate some acoustic piano (real or sampled) to fill out the sound. That said, it was definitely unique and really fun to do two days of live theater with just the P12 and an acoustic bass. 

You can check out a recording from that radio show I mentioned earlier here:

The theater group that organized the event and puts on lots of cool stuff here in Vermont is here:


Re: Outside the Studio
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2016, 03:25:34 AM »
Hi Adam
Good idea for a thread - the way other people use gear can influence our practice.

I have written about 200 voices all of which are quadraphonic and very flexible (two stereo volume pedals and two expression pedals + mod wheel and sliders) so I too found the playlist function to be very useful as I am not familiar with which voice is which.
 Last Year I took Cassandra (my P12) on a ‘Pilgrimage’ playing in ancient churches along the Pilgrims route from Bangor Cathedral to Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli). There is no electric on Bardsey and a dodgy sea crossing so I started at Aberdaron and worked my way back to Bangor over 7 performances spread over 3 months. Each live (Improvised) performance became the backing track for the following performance and so the music changed radically along the way. I used a ‘time based’ score so I would know when to expect key changes, but I didn’t rehearse it between performances.
 I have been using Cassandra in Quad (2 stereo outs A and B into 2 stereo volume pedals with L and R options from panning to expression controls) so I was able to fill these extraordinary spaces with sound that varied with ones position in the church/cathedral. Sometimes the music was melodic and/or harmonic and sometimes I would use a more noise based approach. The Prophets expression controls enabled me to respond expressively and instantly to whatever occurred on the backing track, and the process worked so well that I am now mixing unrelated performances together and have found that they fit each other exactly creating new ‘works’ from the existing material.
 For me, the only disappointment was that I failed to get any funding and could not afford to make microphone recordings - my recordings are straight from the multitrack and do not include the unique acoustics.
My multitrack/Quad tip is to use (if you have them) 2 ‘effect send’ channels alongside the main L and R outputs on an old Multitrack recorder, but since there is no standard Quad CD format. . . .

So, a great time was had by all ; well, me anyway and maybe the audience when there was one (3 churches were empty at 2pm on a weekday) This is not my usual musical practice - I don’t have one - I think I will be doing polyrhythmic dance music next.

(These tracks are both 52 mins long)
A straight recording from St Beunos in Clynnog Fawr (with backing track from St Aelhaerns)

A remix of St Aelhaerns (Llanaelhaern) with a live performance from St Marys (Felinheli)

Re: Outside the Studio
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2016, 11:25:11 AM »
That sounds like an amazing experience. I love the idea of layering your previous performances with the proceeding ones. Totally a bummer that you weren't able to capture the sound of the acoustic spaces, but I'm sure the sound of being there live was really memorable. Feel free to post any photos from that trip -- it's a very inspiring project.