Monday, July 9, 2012

Aries Music Inc. synthesizer manual ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1977

Aries Music Inc. 1/4-page black and white synthesizer manual advertisement from page 50 in the December 1977 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

I can't believe it's been over two years since I posted my last Aries ad - on July 1, 2010 - Canada Day! It's odd to think that much time as gone by, but then again I knew it was just a matter of time before I was pulled back to that awesome 70's string-art-inspired logo. Yum.

The laws of Aries advertisements (in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine anyways) go something like this:

1. Must include cool logo.
2. Don't run any advertisement more than two or three times, tops.
3. Keep that blogger guy thirty-five years into the future guessing as to what we can advertise next.

This ad follows these rules to a T.  Cool logo? Check. Cool as a cucumber.  Keep ad-run to a minimum? Check. This one seems to have only ran once. And keep me guessing? F@&$ yeah! Will it be their modular? A new module? Kits? A manual... wait... what?

Yup! A manual. For $9.50. But this was apparently not your ordinary manual.

When you are a small company with a limited ad budget, you have to be creative and look for alternative sources of revenue. And if you've spent the time (or asked someone else to spend the time) creating a really good resource - why not pull in some extra cash. But from everything I've heard about Aries the company, I've no doubt that they were sincere in releasing this manual as a "real teaching tool, not a sales tool". Especially if it is coming from the Boston School of Electronic Music.

I did a quick search and although I couldn't find this owner's manual anywhere online, I did find reference to it on Google Books. Or, I'm assuming this is it. The author is listed as Kenneth L. Perrin - who's association with Aries is well known. He can be found in an Aries group photo on Robert Leiner's most awesome Aries Web site's home page.

Top row, far left.

Cool lookin' dude.

The publisher on the Google Books page is listed as The Boston School of Electronic Music - also referenced in association with Ken's name next to the photo on that Aries Web site.

So, what about this Boston School of Electronic Music? BSEM comes up often when I'm doing research on vintage synthesizers and turns out it was a electronic music school in the 70s founded by Jim Michmerhuizen. And speaking of manuals, Jim Michmerhuizen is best known to me as the guy who wrote the ARP 2600 manual. Still sells that on his site. Also on his site is his introduction to BSEM from their 1977 catalog. It's a good introduction of what exactly went on within the walls of the school.

A quick Google search provides more evidence of just how wide the connections between BSEM and vintage synths went. For example, Cynthia Webster, founder of Synapse magazine and creator of Cynthia modular synth modules went there. That same Google search will also bring up Flickr photos of the studio - nice. And although they have not existed for quite some time, they even have a Facebook page with three "likes"! :D

But, back to Kenneth Perrin for a second, because - surprise, surprise - it just so happens that not only was he a writer of manuals, he also wrote a nice little "inside perspective" article on the Boston School of Electronic Music for the March/April 1978 issue of Synapse magazine. Hello!

The article describes BSEM's role - starting out as "an outpost on the edge of a wilderness" to one where students "can learn factual information about electronic music instruments and in which they are exposed to professional standards".

At the time the article was written, the school offered 10 different courses in two semesters dealing with a number of topics including synthesis, music theory, composition and analysis, electronics and math - and was soon to grow to 19 courses over four semesters, including courses on computers (in 1978?!?!?).

There's a lot of other interesting historical pieces of info included in that article - which you can fortunately read online thanks to BSEM grad Cynthia Webster.  :)   And to keep all these connections going... the Aries ad below is printed on the opposite page of that article.

Small world!

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