Sunday, September 9, 2018

Roland TR-909 "Different Drummer" ad, Roland Users Group 1984


Roland TR-909 "Different Drummer" colour advertisement from the outside back cover of Volume 2, Number 3 (1984) issue of  Roland Users Group Magazine.

Happy 9/09 day!

And you know what brings happiness to my 909 day? A new... er... old... TR-909 advertisement of course!

Don't worry - I'm keeping it short and sweet!

I haven't come across this TR-909 advertisement anywhere other than Roland's own users group magazine. It's part of the "Roland Makes It Happen!" series of neon-inspired ads that have included quite a few sweet pieces of gear from the time period, each paired with a different neon colour.

I've posted a few other Roland ads from the series including the Juno 106 "Synful" blue ad and the TR-707 "Digital Dynamite" yellow ad, and the TR-909 red ad makes a lovely addition to the collection.

 
click on images to view blog posts

There are others too - check out the new Roland timeline for more!

I've also posted a few of Roland's family ads that also play off the same design elements (dark backgrounds, lots of neon), both of which also include... you guessed it...

The TR-909!

 
click on images to view blog posts

I'd love to see all of these poster-sized. Like Dave Smith did for many of his Mattos-designed ads.

Like the other ads in the series, the ad copy is a little hard to read, but definitely worth it. We get Roland promoting the new MIDI standard, Roland software, the works.

In particular, I'm digging this little line:
"We start with digital recordings of real drums, then through a 3-D waveform analysis, re-create the sounds through a hybird digital/analog process." 
And no... not because of the spelling error (hyBIRD), but that they thought it was important to talk about the process they used to create the sounds found in the 909. Sprinkling a little bit of tech into the ad. Letting users see the magic behind the curtain.

The text layout aside, I gotta say I'm totally digging the design of this series of ads. Neon was big in the '80s, and its easy to see why it inspired many designers to find a way to make it work in print during this time period.

Today we see neon making a come back in the visual packaging of one style of music in particular -  Synthwave! And, not coincidentally, a lot of that synthwave is being produced with hardware that was introduced in the 80s through neon-themed advertising like those you see above.

How's that for full circle!

Don't believe me - just do a Google images search for 'synthwave'.

Heck, even if you do believe me, do the search anyways...

...just for the happiness it will bring to your 9/09 day.   :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 4 January - March 1984



Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 4 January - March 1984

Like Deadpool at the end of the second movie, I'm kinda cleaning up my timeline... or, in this case, my blogger drafts. And here's a pretty easy one to knock off the list - so I'm keeping it short and sweet.

So far, I've posted five of these, and now this is the sixth.  You can find the others here - click on each image to be taken to their blog posts!


    
  

My Retro Synth Ads blogger tradition dictates that I create a top 10 list for these newsletters. But since I'm running short on time these days, I thought I'd take it down to five for this baby. But, by no means should you get the idea that this newsletter isn't as worthy as the rest - its just as yummy... as you'll soon see:

Top 5 reasons this newsletter is awesome:

5. Memory Moog Plus info - and lots of it! In particular, the addition of MIDI and a sequencer. Almost one-and-a-half pages devoted to these two topics. Sweet!

4. Within seconds of beginning to read the newsletter, we get references to the Eurythmics and Stevie Nicks. What's not to love about that.

3. The article "Digital Synthesis - a Perspective":  Moog's response to some of the newer digital synths coming onto the market, and a hint at things that were to come from Moog... but we'll get to that in a second...

2. Tom Rhea joins the company as Director of Marketing! In fact, he wrote the Digital Synthesis article in this newsletter referenced above in #3.

1. And finally - the most interesting to me at the moment... Steve Levine joins as Director of Research! I personally hadn't known much about him before reading this little bio, and am impressed. Most interestingly, it says that he was currently developing Moog's first FULLY DIGITAL MUSIC SYNTHESIZER.

Whaaaaaaat?

At first I thought this was referring to the Moog SL-8 - the 8-voice, stereo polyphonic synthesizer announced at '83 NAMM that I wrote about in this Moog Producer C64 sequencer post. But that synthesizer was still analog with digitally-CONTROLLED oscillators - not a fully digital synthesizer.

And it was already designed with prototype cards making the rounds at trade shows prior to when this newsletter came out in 1984.

So, does that mean out there somewhere, at the very least, are some early plans for a Moog digital synthesizer?

And if so, how far along did the design get?

And does it have a groovy digital name?

So many questions. If anyone knows anything, let me know!

UPDATE! Mu:zines tweeted back to me with reference to an article in their online archives from the November 1983 issue of Electronics & Music Maker. In the article "Industry Profile - Moog Music", President David Luce talks about the SL-8, and then drops this little nugget:
"We also have some programmes going in the direction of sampling machines. This is a big step, but one of the reasons that I feel now is the appropriate time is that if we resolve what I think are some of the fundamental problems associated with digital synthesis perse."

Wowza.  Moog Samplers. Yum.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Moog Liberation keytar / synthesizer reference sheet, 1980




Moog Liberation keytar / synthesizer reference sheet from 1980.

What do we have here? It's another member of the Moog 1980 reference sheet family!

And nope - it's still not the last one. There's even more in the series.  The others in the series that I have already posted include those scans below for the Polymoog, Opus 3, Minimoog, Micromoog, Prodigy and Multimoog. Click on the images to go to their respective blog posts!


    
    

These should really be re-printed as collector cards. Just sayin'.

Not sure why it took me so long to post the Liberation sheet - I'm a bit of a keytar freak. If I had been born in the 18th century, I probably would have been hangin' around with Beethoven and had an Orphica strapped around my neck.

But as much as I would have wanted to have had my own Liberation to riff with, it's never happened. The closest I've come is having a Poly-800 or a CZ-101 strung over my shoulder - and technically they're not even keytars because they don't have necks. Hrumph.


I love everything about that front photo. The way the Liberation seems to just be floating there (including the shoulder strap!) and the subtle shadows on that warm red background. So gorgeous.

But if there is one photo of the Moog Liberation I love more than the one in that reference sheet, its this classic photo of Devo holding FIVE Liberations (photo taken from Club Devo - go visit and become a member!).

Fun fact - according to the Liberation wiki page, Devo actually never used the instrument live or in recordings. It does say they used them in music videos... but I don't recall any off the top of my head, so I'll be trying to track one down as soon as I'm done this blog post. If you know of one, email me the link! ( retrosynthads[AT]gmail.com )

And, well, although the question of whether they used the Liberation specifically may be up for debate, it is well-known that Mark Mothersbaugh does love Moogs.  :)

Back to the reference sheet - after admiring that lovely photo, its just natural to flip the page over to read about all those yummy specs. And everything you need to know is there. Including the date of printing of the sheet itself!

But for me, the most curious of the specs is that "Burn in (aging)" section.
"Before final calibration, units are burned in for 72 hours at ambient of 72 F"
Similar info also appears on the back of the Prodigy reference sheet and I commented briefly about it in that blog post too. Interestingly, I'm pretty sure that info isn't referenced in the other sheets in this series. Just those two. Which kinda makes a sense since according to Wikipedia, the Liberation is most closely related to the Prodigy. But I wonder why they note that burn-in time for those two specifically.

Anyways, that's it for now. Time to go down that Devo video rabbit hole!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 3 February 1982


Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 3 February 1982.

Before you even ask... yes! Another Moog Interface newsletter! I just can't stop! You can find all the newsletters under this label.

Now, let's not waste any time and quickly dive into my usual top 10 list.

Top ten reasons this newsletter is awesome!

10. We have a logo change! The Moog Interface logo-type has changed to a font that resembles an LED watch. Bold move. I like-yyyyy!

9. The half-page devoted to the Moog Digital Sequential Controller (DSC). Although apparently never released, it didn't just make it into this issue of Interface, but also into advertisements in Keyboard Magazine. I'd love to know the backstory on that!

8. The feature article on the Memorymoog. Although not released until the last quarter of 1982, the Memorymoog seems to have popped up not just in this Interface newsletter, but also in that ad for the DSC and at trade shows.

7. If you haven't figured it out yet... The Moog Taurus II is also featured in the newsletter... AND in that same ad as the Memorymoog and DSC (link above). That's some good cross-advertising going on at Moog! 

6. At the end of that Memorymoog article is an interesting footnote about the author - Rich Walborn, Chief Engineer of Research at Moog. He started out working at the original RA Moog Company building some of the first Minimoogs, and went on to develop a number of other Moog products. Not in that footnote - he travelled with ELP for a year! 

5. The "Electronic Music in the Schools" article on the last page of the newsletter. Could you imagine going to a high school that had a studio with Multimoogs. Plural. MORE THAN ONE!  

4. We have a keytar! In a photo on page two being held by Ronnie Foster, who we learn will be playing along with Tom Coster at the Western NAMM show. More on Tom Coster below!

3. The Music with Computers article actually prints out an explains a short basic program. A lot of musicians must have been scratching their heads, but the techies must have loved it!

2. Looking at the Input-Output section (Q and As), it looks like someone else is as interested as I am in getting a Moog satin flight jacket. I WANT A FLIGHT JACKET. I'd wear it everywhere. For true!

1. That last question in that Input-Output section piqued by curiosity:
"I recently bought Tom Coster's album. On the credits he list a Moog Invader. What is it?"

The answer...? "Stop at the Moog Booth at the Western NAMM...". GAH!
So I googled away and soon found out. Its a patch! Tom Coster actually goes into some detail on it in a February 1982 article of Contemporary Keyboard, saying he listed it in the hopes that Moog would create an instrument with that name!

Side note: The February '82 issue of Contemporary Keyboard was misprinted on the cover as "February 1981" - so Moog Invader patch references to the magazine are often citing the incorrect 1982 date.

Fantastic newsletter. Read it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 2 June 1981


Moog Interface newsletter, Volume 2 June 1981.

Yup - another one. So far I've posted four - the one above and these three (click on images to go to their respective blog posts):


With even more to come!

And like those others, I plan to keep the tradition going with another Top 10 list.

Top 10 reasons this newsletter is awesome!

10. There are EIGHT keytars in photos scattered about in this thing. EIGHT!!!!!

9. That Gary Wright interview!  That dude loves his Moogs. And Moog loves that photo - I've seen it re-purposed in a number of different places during this time period.

8. Question 2 in the Input/Output section contains some great historical details on the Canadian dealer for Moog during this time period - Nuco!

7. Also from the Input/Output section: The kit costs for retrofitting a Prodigy with CV/Gate interface jacks ($20/$30 depending on serial number).

6. The Interface logo font! So spacey! Always happy when I see that.

5. The photo and reference to the 10,000th Moog Prodigy rolling off the production line in the bottom corner of page 2. I love synth production quantities almost as much as other historical info.

4. The announcement of the Moog Rogue on page 3 with its scheduled unveiling at the Chicago Summer 1981 NAMM show. Great historical timeline info!

3. That classic photo of DEVO with five keytars. Enough said.   Get it? "Enough said"! Its a DEVO song! "Stop and let me tell you what tomorrow holds for you..."

2. Rock Wehrmann's "Music With Computers" article. Rock worked at Moog from around 1977-1983, eventually ending up managing advertising and marketing at Moog and was involved in the design of the Source, the Rogue, the Opus 3, Taurus 2, the Radio Shack Concertmate (MG-1), and the Liberation! Great little interview with him on the Moog Foundation site. A good read.

1. The Minimoog retrospective on page 1. So much great history jam-packed into that one article.

So, grab a cup of coffee and read through the newsletter. It's a gooder!