Thursday, January 16, 2020

Moog Sonic Six "Moog makes the scene" ad, Rolling Stone 1973

Moog Sonic Six "Moog makes the scene" half page black and white advertisement from page 51 in the February 1, 1973 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine.

After the great response to my early 70's ARP ad from Rolling Stone, I thought it would be fun to post this Moog Sonic Six ad from the same issue... just two page flips away!

The Sonic Six doesn't get a lot of love when it comes to advertising compared to its siblings like the Minimoog. Although Moog did come out with a lovely colour brochure in 1974.

Its interesting to note that in the brochure, Moog is not just going after the live musician looking for a light-weight synth in a carry case, but its also using up as much ad copy targeting the classroom as well. Now compare that to the Rolling Stone ad... no mention of classrooms at all.

Moog definitely knew their audience and stayed mum on the school angle.  :)

The ad copy is top notch - there is so much said in such a tiny amount of space. I liked it so much I've typed it all out...
"The synthesizer that started it all is the one behind the innovative new music groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Mike Quatro, Jam Band. Behind the restless exploration of new sounds, rhythms and tone colors by Gershon Kingsley's First Moog Quartet. Now Moog quality and engineering are available in the Sonic Six, the complete electronic synthesizer in a compact carry-along case. And the famous Minimoog that brings studio quality to your live performances. For name of your nearest dealer, write Moog Music Inc., Academy Street, P.O. Box 131, Williamsville, New York 14221."
It uses phrases that have since become synonymous with Moog such as "the synthesizer that started it all" and "Moog quality and engineering", and for good measure references the Minimoog (smart move!). But even more exciting is the name dropping - Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Mike Quatro and ... one of my favs... Gershon Kingsley.

Gershon Kinglsey is probably best known for his song Popcorn.

Love that song. He also formed the First Moog Quartet, who were -  according to Wikipedia - "the first to ever play electronic music in Carnegie Hall." With Bob Moog there too! Kingsley passed away last December at the age of 97.

Now, I'm embarrassed to admit this next bit, and that's that I had a bit of a mind-blank for the first few minutes while staring at that lovely artwork in the ad. ELP, Kingsley and Quatro were all bands mentioned in the ad-copy, but I was struggling to remember the other two bands - Trilogy and Paintings.

Yeah... then it clicked. Trilogy is an album from ELP, and Paintings is an album from the Mike Quatro Jam Band. Duh.

And speaking of the illustration, I *love* the artwork used for this ad. There's even a signature there - Lawson - but I haven't tried looking it up to see if I can find anything interesting on the artist.

If you know more of Lawson's work, send me a note!

Monday, January 13, 2020

ARP Odyssey "Conduct an Arp" ad, Rolling Stone 1973

ARP Odyssey "Conduct an Arp" half page black and white advertisement from page 47 in the February 1, 1973 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine.

Sometimes I'll take an hour or two and just look through my archives, when all of a sudden something new will jump out at me. And so it is that after more than sixth months of brochure posts, it's time to fall back in love with a synth advertisement.  In this case, a lovely Arp Odyssey ad from Rolling Stone. I've never actually seen this ad in the wild anywhere else - in another publication or online as a scan. It has just somehow managed to hide in plain sight from me.

A happy surprise.

And not-so-coincidentally, The Alan R. Pearlman Foundation / ARP Archives happens to be at NAMM (booth #8600) soonly. Make sure to check them out and show your support - financially and otherwise! 

Before Contemporary Keyboard came on the scene in 1975, many Americans would find synth ads popping up in the pages of Rolling Stone - what founder Jann Wenner described as a cross between a magazine and a newspaper that wasn't "just about the music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces". She also described it as "reflecting what we see are the changes in rock and roll and the changes related to rock and roll".

What better product to advertise in such a magazine as a synthesizer?  Synths had begun to change the landscape of rock with many musicians embracing the technology, and the Odyssey, released just a year earlier, was already creating buzz (pun intended) on stage and in studios.

A perfect match.

The ad itself it quite tall - it spans the full vertical of the page making it over 17" high. And half the width of the page, about five inches. At the top of the ad is the lovely and large, bold ad title. And right underneath that we get that first large image. Even with the big illustration, there is still lots of space, so its not surprising that there is a fair amount of content, but it is surprising how technical that content gets. After an initial introduction, readers come across this...
"Add such state-of-the-art firsts as phase-locked oscillators, digital ring modulator, sample and hold circuits, and a lot of the functions of a complete studio synthesizer, and you've got yourself a genuine space age instrument."
ARP obviously believed there were some pretty technical musicians reading the mag, and quite frankly, even those that didn't understand the lingo would probably be impressed by it. I still am. :)

And if the buzz words didn't impress you, then the very bottom of the ad might...
"ARP ... conducted by Stevie Wonder / Pete Townshend / Ike & Tina Turner / Frank Zappa / The Beach Boys / Elton John / and many others"
ARP name droppin'!  It's an effective marketing technique and if you've read any of my earlier blog posts about ARP ads, you know I think ARP was one of the best name-droppers in the biz.

But the real joy of this advertisement is obviously the illustrations that play off the "orchestra conductor" theme and content of the ad. I'm a big fan of illustrations in synth ads, so much so that I've created a blog tag so you can see some of the other lovely artwork to be found in synth marketing material.

Here we get two lovely pieces of art. The top image is that of a conductor in a auditorium with just an Odyssey on the stage, and, even better is the second image of the conductor standing beside the ARP.

Tell me that ain't gorgeous. I dare ya!

I just wish there was an artist's signature included with the ad. If you recognize the work, please send me a note!

Friday, December 6, 2019

E-mu Systems Inc. Morpheus "Z-Plane" synthesizer brochure, 1993

E-mu Systems Inc. Morpheus "Z-Plane" synthesizer two-page colour brochure from 1993.

"From one of the few companies still committed to developing new methods of sound synthesis, the Morpheus promises much. Does it deliver?"

That's the first line in Music Technology magazine's January 1994 review of the Morpheus.  And E-mu was indeed coming up with some interesting stuff.

The same year, Alesis launched the QuadraSynth.

Kawai the K11.

Korg the X3.

Roland the JV-90 and JV-1000.

In Roland's defense, they also came out with the JD-990 - still one of the best sounding digital synths in my opinion. It just sounds fantastic. I can't explain it any better than that.

And, well, there was also the Waldorf Wave. A little... okay, a lot out of my price range.

BUT E-mu's Morpheus hit my sweet spot between three of the main factors I use to determine whether I buy a synth or not - it's fun, interesting and a great price. Of course, related to price is a fourth factor - how much money is in my wallet at the time. Luckily it had been over a year since Korg had launched the Wavestation A/D and my wallet was recovering nicely.  :)

It was just by chance that I started thinking about my currently-packed-away Morpheus when I came upon Mu:zines recent tweet announcing the addition of MT's November 1993 issue on their website which included this lovely little introduction to the z-plane synth. And then when he tweeted out the January 1994 issue, which included a full Morpheus review, I just knew I had to dig out my brochure for Morpheus, as well as a wack of other 90s brochures.

Now, I was gonna try and explain Z-Plane, but while going down that rabbit hole I came across an amazing bit of E-mu Morpheus history - the ORIGINAL Morpheus marketing product VHS tape that someone has digitized and slapped up on YouTube!

You may not recognize the face that pops up after the minute and a half intro, but you should recognize the name - Marco Alpert. He was the long time marketing manager at E-mu and played a big role in some of E-mu's rather fun and intriguing ads that I've featured on the blog, including the decision to run the Japanese Emulator ad in Keyboard Magazine for shits and giggles, and the EPIC Arthur C. Clarke "Any sufficiently advanced technology" ad.


There are actually five parts to the E-mu tapes, so I've included the first bit below, and you can find the others while running uncontrollably down your own rabbit hole:

The video goes on to give an introduction to the Z-Plane filter, and the four videos that follow delve even deeper into the synthesizer.

So after watching the video(s), if that all sounds great to you, AND you happen to be a Eurorack fan, you should definitely check out Rossum Electro-Music's Stereo Morphing Z-Plane Filter module. Your head will explode.

Your own sounds.

Through the Morpheus's filter.

A Morpheus filter ON STEROIDS!

From the webpage:
"Due to processor limitations back in the day, the original Morpheus was capable of real-time morphing in one dimension, but interpolation in the frequency and transform dimensions were set at note-on and remained static for the remainder of the note. But even with that limitation, Morpheus offered sonic capabilities that are unmatched to this day.
With the MORPHEUS filter module, you now have simultaneous real-time CV control of all three dimensions, for dynamic timbral effects unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. In stereo."
There is a video tab on that page that provides a great little demo.

Last, but not least, if you wanna hear a few sounds from the original, check out YouTube.

Lots there, including this one...

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Korg DS-8 "Eight Advantages" brochure, 1987

Korg DS-8 synthesizer "Eight Advantages" four page colour brochure from 1987.

Well, after posting that relatively interesting Korg 707 brochure back in March, how could I not follow up at some point with Korg's other FM-based synth that came out around the same time - the DS-8.

In that post, I touched upon Korg's easy-to-use interface in order to bring Yamaha's FM synthesis to us simpletons. If you look behind the curtain though, you'll find what's really pulling those FM strings - the Wizard of Opp! Otherwise known as Yamaha's FM Operator Type P (OPP) chip, also otherwise known as the YM2164.

Here - I snarfed this photo from the Wikipedia page for the chip:

The chip could be found in the DS-8 as well as the Korg 707, along with a few Yamaha synths from the time period.

Now, putting aside the amazingly interesting fact that Korg used Yamaha's chips in the first place, I did some research into the chip itself, and quickly learned its actually an "enhanced" YM2151 chip (aka OPM or FM Operator Type-M chip). The 2151 was Yamaha's first single-chip FM sound generator that could be found in the DX-21, DX-27 and DX-100, and interestingly also found its way into many non-Yamaha products such as arcade games and pinball machines, and even a few of Sharp's home computers.

But, the Korg 707 and DS-8's multi-midi support required slightly more enhanced abilities, and that's where the enhanced YM2164 chip shines.

A bit more digging, and I quickly realized that quite a few other Yamaha chips exist. A small sampling include the:

YM2154 - made for the Yamaha RX-15 drum machine, apparently for the PCM sounds of the rhythm samples.

YM2409 and YM2412 -  used in the Yamaha TX16W, Yamaha's first sampler

YM2414 -  found in the purely magical Yamaha TX81Z, which is what gave it the ability to choose from 8 different wave forms rather than just using 4-OP sine waves.

How cool is that! I love learning new things. And makes me want to collect Yamaha synths based solely on chip sets!  Check out this comprehensive list of Yamaha chips/feature sets that someone has begun to put together.  Lots more chips and gear in that list!

I find it interesting that Korg chose to make the DS-8 and 707 look so different from each other. I get that some features had to be different - the DS-8 joystick looks very Korg, but the 707's performance wheels make much more sense when the keyboard is hanging from your neck.

But in a era when so many manufacturers were making a generation worth of instruments look very similar to each other such as Yamaha's DX/TX synth and rack series or Roland's MKS rack series, Korg intentionally made these two synths look *very* different from one another.

Just an observation.  :)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Roland Alpha Juno 1/2 "An easy to operate synthesizer with excellent sound quality" brochure, 1986

Roland Alpha Juno 1 /2 "An easy to operate synthesizer with excellent sound quality" six-page colour brochure from January 1986.

Well, since I was discussing Junos in my last post, I figured I may as well keep the theme going by scanning this brochure featuring the next generation of Juno - the Alpha series.

Although not technically a "We design the future" brochure, it keeps all the design aspects of the series, except for the tag phrase itself, which had been phased out years before.  We get a cover page with the giant Roland logo, a large red title and a photo that incorporates some kind of cool background - in this case some kind of semi-transparent folding screen or paper. So I've tagged it with the "We design the future" label anyways.

And, as expected, opening the brochure up reveals a large photo of an Alpha Juno syn... wait a second! In this case, when you open the brochure, you first see a smaller barn door-type page that has the right side of the Alpha Juno 1 on it along with some gold nuggets. The cool thing is it fits perfectly with the left site of the Alpha Juno 2 on the pages within, giving the illusion of a full image of the Juno 1.

Confused? It's a bit hard to explain so I've included a short gif below of what you see when you open the cover page.

Now, when you open that inner page up, it reveals the inside pages that include a large three-page image of the Alpha Juno 2!  That's a great way to problem-solve the issue of trying to fit photos of both large synths on just the inside pages.

The Alpha Juno series of synths were an evolution of sorts for Roland synths. Their DCOs produced significantly more wave forms than previous synths like the MKS-80 and JX-8p, and they had a distinctive 8 parameter envelope. The brochure rightfully highlights both of these features, but only after highlighting the different between the two Alpha synths themselves. Those three differences being:

1. Keyboard size - the Juno 2 with its 61 keys, and the Juno 1 with 49.
2. The Juno 2 had velocity and pressure sensitivity - a no-go for the Juno 1.
3. The Juno 2 had the luxury of a M-64C cartridge for extra patch storage, while the Juno 1 had to suffer with cassette tape back up.

Both machines luckily had the alpha dial - a great (and fun!) way to edit data. I'm definitely Pro-dial. I love it just as much as I love the Alpha's filter.

Last, but not least, no Alpha Juno post would be complete without mentioning its most famous sound... the hoover!

If you've been living under a rock, then you can catch up quickly by reading this wikipedia entry on this unique sound.

There. I mentioned it. Happy?