Monday, August 15, 2011

ARP "Proportional Pitch Control" introductory ad with sound sheet demo, Contemporary Keyboard 1977

ARP "Proportional Pitch Control" 2-page introductory advertisement from page 32 and 3 in Contemporary Keyboard September 1977.

Update: Added to the ARP advertising timeline tool.

This post is kinda special for me because it's the first time I've recorded a sound sheet and posted it on SoundCloud. Change is good, right? RIGHT? Exciting times!

My girlfriend bought me the USB record player I used to record the sound sheet back when I first started the blog - a great gift, and probably as a way to say "hey, I support your blogging initiative even though I don't realize at this moment that it is going to be taking up way too much of OUR time". :D

The record player remained in the box for a couple of years before I finally got around to using it. But now I'm loving it, and am going to be using it more often in the future. I have quite a few ARP demo records...

Anyways, I'm getting ahead of myself.

ARP loved their demo records. Sure, other companies at the time also used them - but I kinda look at ARP as one of the leaders. Their earlier (and heavier) vinyl demo records are a little annoying because they didn't often have dates printed anywhere on them as far as I can tell, although there are obscure code etchings in the lead-out section of most of the records which probably refers back to a date in some recording engineer or vinyl record presser's ledger somewhere. All I know is that this makes it kind of a pain when I want to line up a record with a synth launch or advertising/promotions campaign.

When everyone and their pet dog switched over to those flexible Eva-Tone sound sheets, dating the pressings got a little bit easier later on, when at some point in the mid- or late-70s, Eva-Tone started to include a date code above their name. So, for example, the Eva-Tone sound sheet attached to this centerfold advertisement includes the code 67771XS. The first four numbers are apparently the production date - in this case June 7, 1977.

Side note:
Friend of the blog Micke let me in on this Eva-Tone date code - thanks Micke!

This June production date is historically interesting because it helps us with the time lines for ARP's Proportional Pitch Control. We know that this September '77 ad is the introduction of PPC, but we also know PPC was functional and making live appearances as early as June '77 since it was included in this Summer NAMM ARP brochure. And now we have this recording, also from June '77. Which means the recording of the record, and thus the functionality of PPC, might have been available as early as May or April even. Excellent stuff!

This 2-page centerfold advertisement is quite impressive, with the close-up shot of the three PPC pressure pads that span the bottom portion of the two page spread. Two outer pads bend notes flat or sharp, and the middle pad provides vibrato. Cool technology added to both the Axxe and Odyssey.

The ad-copy is mostly marketing hype and doesn't really explain much about PPC. Luckily, the "PPC Demonstration Notes" call-out box next to the ad-copy does a bit of a better job of explaining how PPC works. And that call-out box also provides us a lot of interesting information about the sound sheet recording itself.

As I mentioned above, this is my first audio recording attempt (for the blog :) - and I've used SoundCloud since all the kids seem to be hanging out there now. My sound sheet came with a few scratches, which you can really hear during the quiet parts.

But give it a listen anyways - and enjoy!

ARP Proportional Pitch Control demonstration record, September 1977 by Retro Synth Ads

The sound sheet text includes:
Pure musical expression
at your fingertips.

[ARP logo] PPC

Music performed by Tom Piggott

45 Hartwell Avenue
Lexington, MA 02173

Interestingly, the back of the sound sheet also includes the tag line in big bold letters
Someone needs to sample that record. Stat!

End note:
Interestingly, while researching this post, I found ARP NAMM promotional info in the "What's Happening" section of the May/June issue of Synapse, but, unlike the ARP NAMM brochure, the "What's Happening" blub only makes reference to the guitar synthesizers - and not PPC at all.
"ARP Instruments has announced the unveiling of two guitar synthesizers at the Atlanta NAMM convention in June. On display will be the production prototypes. There is no date yet for their commercial release, but Synapse will let you know more about them as soon as we can.
Was ARP concerned that PPC may not make it to the show, so didn't mention it? Or did Synapse just not include that tidbit of info? Hmmm...

Anyways, I've added this bit of info to the ARP NAMM brochure blog post as more proof for the appearance of the Centaur and Avatar prototypes at the show.

1 comment:

Micke said...

To the best of my knowledge ARP oficially introduced the PPC in the August '77 issue of the ARPeggio newsletter:
"ARP's new 'PPC' Touch Sensors permit more expressive synthesizer performance"

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