Thursday, July 12, 2012

Aries Music Inc. Modular Synthesizer ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1978

Aries Music Inc. 1/4-page black and white modular synthesizer advertisement from page 38 in the February 1978 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

I gotta say this Aries ad really starts to freak me out after a vodka cooler or two. Yes, vodka cooler. Don't judge.

The last Aries ad I posted didn't have any type of imagery included, and the ones before that, like this voltage controllable phase and flanger usually included a photo. I've included a few examples below.

But this latest one puts Aries ads on a whole new psychedelic level. My ex is a scientist, and those images look like phytoplankton or algae or whatever drawings she would create after peering into her microscope. No kidding.

I'm not saying I hate it - in fact I'm drawn to it. Like a moth to a flame.

Any ways, I think one of their best messages gets a little lost in this advertisement:
"We think musicians want performance over packaging".
 It's surrounded by all that talk of kits and choice and stuff. Those are good messages for sure - but not as snappy as "performance over packaging". Neat and tidy.

It makes me think back to those Pepsi Challenge taste tests, where Pepsi removed the packaging from both the Coke and Pepsi bottles and asked consumers to compare the taste. True performance over packaging. And no, I'm not getting paid by Pepsi. I think I actually prefer Coke most days. Been a long time since I've had either in a non-diet form.  :D

That second paragraph kind of gets back on message in terms of performance with the promotion of that Aries manual that the Boston School of Electronic Music created.  I wrote a bit about the manual in my last Aries blog post, but quickly got sidetracked by surfing around looking for more info on that electronic school in Boston as well hanging around Robert Leiner's most awesome Aries Web site's home page. That site just happens to have tons of information, scans of catalogs and stuff - and also a mention or two about the manual.

For example, Robert's site has transcribed certain parts of different catalogs and manuals, and the "introduction" link on the left navigation bar will take you to an Aries Music / Series AR-300 Systems Introduction page written by Aries President Bob Snowdale. Near the end of the intro is a good little piece of reference material about the evolution of the manual and what was to come.
"We offer software support for our instruments. We have expanded our Owner's Manual to 143 pages of information, patches, experiments and instruction in the use of the AR-300 Series modules. As we add more modules we add supplements to the manual including information on the new modules. Written by Ken Perrin, our manual is designed to offer basic understanding of and instruction in the use of our instruments.

We have additional manuals planned. One is a series of laboratory experiments in Fourier synthesis for college-level physics instruction. This manual was written by Jerry Lemay and is based on the use of the AR-332 phase-modulated sync VCO's included as part of the Aries Music "Physics" system. Mr. Lemay uses both the manual and the system in classes at Southeastern Massachusetts University. The manual will be available to our customers in the summer of 1979."
Nice! The manual has grown from the original 93 or so pages up to 143 pages - and was to continue to expand!  That introduction also provides some other great information about Aries' business model and customer service. A definite read.

But one of the coolest pieces of the Web I came across while doing a little bit of Googlin' on Aries and manuals was on There I found a modular synthesizer article PDF scan from the May 17, 1979 issue of Down Beat, with the rather witty title SynthesizeIt Yourself - Erector Sets for Grownups by John Balleras. Back in 1979, John had this to say about the manual:
"Aires, incidentally, distributes one of the best operating  manuals I've come across. Written by Kenneth L. Perrin and the staff of the Boston School of Electronic Music for use on the Aires 300 system, this text is both theoretically and practically adaptable to any modular synthesizer and to many prepatched ones as well."
The article also mentions other modular manufacturers including EML, Paia, Heathkit, Blacet as well as drops other familiar names and companies such as Craig Anderson, Moog and others.

Go read it.

NOW!  :)

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