Thursday, November 29, 2012

Casio RZ-1 Digital Sampling Rhythm Composer reference sheet, 1986

Casio RZ-1 Digital Sampling Rhythm Composer reference sheet from 1986.

Here we have Casio doing what it does best.

1. Take something that's professional and costs a lot.
2. Keep it professional and make it affordable.

Sure, there was a drum machine or two on the market that could sample their own drum sounds, but I don't think they were in this price range.

Casio first did a great job of this strategy with their CZ synthesizer series, especially with that $499.00 CZ-101. And now they are doing it with drum machines. And - spoiler alert - a professional sampling keyboard isn't far behind.

The RZ-1 may have only started to appear in Casio ads alongside other "x"Z instruments in September 1986, but the buzz around the instrument started months before. One of those early appearances was a one-pager Keyboard Report in the May 1986 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Reviewer Dave Frederick gets right to the point in the introduction, explaining what makes the $599 RZ-1 drum machine unique:
"The first thing you notice about the RZ-1 is that it has a lot of features not usually associated with drum machines in this price range. For instance, separate audio outs for the instruments, slider-controlled levels, a lighted display, and user sampling."
And eyes must have gone wide when reading this review in 1986 when realizing this thing has 10 audio outs, individual slider volume controls and user sampling! Jack pot. Especially that last bit - user sampling. Dave Fredrick agrees...
"The sampling is very clean and the sampling process couldn't be easier. The .2-second sampling time is adequate for percussive sounds. We were able to create great new percussion instruments by taking random samples from the radio. Or use the four notes of your favorite bass sound and sequence your bass parts along with the drums. If you need longer recording times, it's possible to combine the sample times to create two .4-second samples, or one .8-second sample."
I bought my RZ-1 years after it was released, used, and at a bargain basement price. I just had to know what it sounded like next to my other 80s drum machines from Sequential, Roland and Oberheim (yes, my 80s drum machine collection became a bit of a fetish, not surprisingly around the time eBay came into my life). And even if I wasn't as happy with the sounds of the machine itself, the fact that I could sample from those drum machines into the Casio made it rock. A 909 sample, even at 8-bit, sounded delish.

I also tried the bass trick from the Keyboard Review too, but didn't find I liked the results as much as I liked the general idea of a pulsing bass coming out of my drum machine. Maybe it was the 20kHz sample rate/10kHz frequency ceiling that I ran into. Even bass sounds need some high-end.  :)  

A month before that Keyboard Review showed up, it appeared in a rather unassuming April 1986 Spec Sheet promo bundled in with a few consumer products - the SK-1 and MT-500. I've just included the RZ-1 content for this blog post.
"Casio announces the RZ-1, a programmable drum machine with 12 PCM-encoded sounds. User sampling is included.  Sampling time varies between .2 and .8 seconds. The unit's memory holds 100 patterns and 20 songs. Individual line outputs and MIDI connections are provided. $599.00."
Remember how I said Casio's marketing around the xZ instruments during this time period was a little scattered? I ventured a guess that this was at least partly due to all the other professional, semi-professional and consumer keyboards Casio was also trying to hawk at the time, and the lack of planning around a strategic, consolidated, marketing campaign.

This Spec Sheet  is a good example of how those other non-professional products, although cool (the SK-1 was a crazy little consumer keyboard and consumers and bedroom musicians everywhere ate it up), were getting in the way when trying to get good info about the RZ-1 out to the professional readers of Keyboard Magazine. The RZ-1 description, if promoted by Casio on its own, could probably have been a lot larger, but instead its just one of three products on an already crowded page.

To make the point, I've listed below all the keyboards Casio promoted in their catalog from this time period that includes their whole line of consumer, semi-professional and professional keyboards.

They included, using Casio's own groupings...

 *ahem* - had to clear my throat before listing them...

Digital Sampling Keyboards: SK-1, SK-5, SK-8, SK-100, SK-200, and SK-2100
Casio Piano Sound: CPS-2000, CPS-101, CPS-102
Spinet Type Keyboard: CST-2000
Popular Tone Keyboards: PT-1, PT-31, PT-82
Mini Keyboards: MT-20, MT-25. MT-55, MT-110, MT-210
Standard Keyboards: CT-360, CT-605, CT-620, CT-630, CT-6000, CT-6500
Melody and Chord Guide Keyboards: MT-88, MT-820, CT-805, MT-28
Arabic Keyboards: SK-8A, AT-400
Drum Solo Keyboards: MT-205, MT-520, CT-450, TC-510
High Quality Sound: HT-700. HT-3000, CZ-203S
Cosmo Synthesizer: FZ-1, CZ-1, CZ-5000, CZ-2000S, AZ-1, RZ-1, SZ-1, TB-1

Good lord.  Just looking at that list makes me tired.

And, like I said above, could be a reason that musicians reading Keyboard at the time may have had a bit of a problem distinguishing the kid's toys from the big boy's toys.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Casio CZ-1, AZ-1, RZ-1, and TB-1 "Note worthy" ad, Keyboard 1986

Casio CZ-1 synthesizer, AZ-1 controller, RZ-1 drum machine, and TB-1 MIDI switching thru box "Note worthy" two-page colour advertisement from page 82 and 83 in the September 1986 issue of Keyboard.

Normally I call these types of group advertisements "family photos". But even though these instruments have been nicely arranged for the photo, it still just looks like they are milling about not really aware that a photo is being taken. Like a family standing around a BBQ waiting for their steaks to be done unaware their neighbour is photographing them (and the TB-1 is probably having a veggie burger because he swore off meat at the age of 16 while going through his teen vegan phase).

And this ad is about as rare as finding a photo of my own family standing around the BBQ too.  It looks like it only appeared three times - September and November 1986, and February 1987. I never liked the family photo growing up... (probably again much like the TB-1 in this ad, I'd be sitting over in the far corner pouting).

Hey, if this blog can't be therapy, what can it be for?!?!   :)

Side note: Speaking of the TB-1 - I love that thing. It has two MIDI-INs (A and B) and eight MIDI-THRUs that are each individually switchable between the two INs. I have two of them strategically arranged in my studio so that I can easily flip the control of my synth stacks quickly between my computer and stand alone controller keyboards.

If I recall correctly, all the gear in this ad are making their first photographic appearances in Keyboard in this September 1986 ad. The CZ-1 didn't get any early advertising dollars. All that went first to the CZ-101 and then the CZ-5000.  And oddly, the CZ-1 won't make an appearance in a solo advertisement for another ten months or so. No kidding.

Even weirder, the RZ-1 actually did make appearances in the Spec Sheet section five months EARLIER in April 1986, and the Keyboard Report for the RZ-1 appeared four months EARLIER in May 1986 (more on those  in a near-future RZ-1 brochure post - weeee!). 

As for the TB-1 MIDI through box... I wouldn't expect any other advertising, but the AZ-1 MIDI controller is awesome. There should be some solo advertising around that, but I haven't found anything else in terms of ads yet. Although, during my Keytar-fetish-blogging period, I did post this AZ-1 brochure with a slick-looking dude I affectionately named Blane in reference to the dude from Pretty in Pink. 

My point being... er... what is my point?!?!? Oh yeah...

My point being that Casio didn't seem to have a solid marketing plan when they started releasing their professional gear. Marketing around all of Casio's new gear so far just seems to be scattered throughout a two year period between February 1985 and February1987.

I'm starting to think the real problem is that Casio's semi-pro line of keyboards are just getting in the way. I've been ignoring those ads in Keyboard Magazine, wanting to pretend for as long as possible that they just don't exist. Casio has been pumping out so many keyboards lately that it would be hard to actually come up with a campaign that could involve everything. So, instead, you get a sprinkle of CZ-101 ads over here, a couple of CZ-5000 ads over there, and a few CZ-1 ads waaaaaaay over that way.

But, these family ads are a step in the right direction towards corralling in all these instruments into a campaign. And to be honest, I have to admit that gear-porn ads like this turn my crank more than a little bit.

The ad-title is actually really good, although a little predictable - "Note worthy". But its the way its laid out in the centerfold that bugs me.  Because each word was given the same amount of space from the left-side margin of their own pages, the words are too separated. Maybe it was a gimmick. But there's no need for it.  And the other thing that disappoints me is that Casio's ad designers have taken out that human element I was digging so much in those early xZ advertisements. Boo. Much cooler would have been all this gear in a rack and a dude rocking out with it. We've already seen Casio use a Bruce Springsteen/Lover Boy stereotype (CZ-101) and a Miami-Vice stereotype (CZ-5000), and even Blane from Pretty in Pink (in that AZ-1 brochure) so how about a New Wave-decked-out dude a la Devo or Flock of Seagulls kicking it on all this gear. Okay, maybe that would only get my attention.  :) 

Also, you have to give Casio credit for at least trying to keep within a single naming convention ("x"Z-1). That goes a long way in keeping all these different products straight, recognizable, and memorable in a readers mind.

Plus, we also have the luxury of looking into the future, and so we know Casio does get a little better at all this.

A little.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Casio CZ-101 "We engineered this synthesizer so..." ad, Keyboard 1985

Casio CZ-101 synthesizer "We engineered this synthesizer so you don't have to be an engineer to play it" full page colour advertisement from page 7 in the February 1985 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Oh, you cute little CZ-101!

Although, from the photo, you can't really tell just how little the thing really is.

I actually posted this ad waaaaaay back in January 2009, the first month the blog technically went live. But back then it was more scan posting than actual blogging. So, figured I could post again since I seem to have started on a bit of a Casio stream.

When I look at this ad (or a CZ-101 for that matter),  two words come to mind:

Vince Clarke (@thecabinstudio on Twitter).

I've posted this classic photo of Vince Clarke and Eric Radcliffe posing with a rack of 101's before. But its always worth posting again. Under this Sound on Sound article's photo is a small quote by Vince, that includes this little gem:
"If you are looking for something to sequence, say, a bank of eight Casio CZ101s, then UMI-2B is the answer."
Literally, a bank synthesizers. And a bank of synthesizers that won't break the bank at the advertised retail price of $499.00.

I also like to post this image because it gives readers a good idea to just how teeny-weeny the CZ-101 actually is. Mine has literally gotten lost in my studio. Couldn't find it for months.

This ad was the start of the CZ revolution: February 1985. Tatoo the date under your tatoo of the CZ-101. Go ahead. The blog post will be here when you get back. And don't worry, you aren't the only one with puppy love for this machine. It wasn't long after it's launch that musicians, geeks and the media also fell for it. It seemed that everyone dug this thing.

Don't believe me? Just start digging through the 1985 and 1986 issues of Keyboard to get a load of its popularity. And not just ads... the "Patches of the Month" section often included CZ patches (steel drum patches  seemed especially tasty, probably due to the CZ's lovely synthesized frequencies).

There were also articles dedicated to this new type of synthesis.

In March 1986, Jerry Kovarsky & Jim Aikin wrote a four page in-depth Keyboard Clinic called "How to program the CZ-101". The article burned through many aspects of programming the machine, including envelopes, waveforms, key follow, and the magic of detuning and ring modulation (my words, not theirs  :)

And to make sure you didn't think they took all the fun out of programming the CZ-101, the article ends with this little ditty.
"Of course, many is the time I set out to create a cello and ended up with a moose in heat, but it was a good moose so I took full credit for it. That's what makes programming fun!"
Oh.... synthesis humour. Zing!

But one of the most surprising articles I came across in my research was an April 1986 article called "Unexplored resources of the Casio CZ-101". Written by...


Even cooler is that Bob points out this is his first Keyboard column in which he discusses a specific synthesizer. Throughout the introduction he ensure his readers that he is not "playing favorites" and insists that the article is only the result of a recent flood of a "number of innovative instruments offering unexplored musical resources".  And he also adds:

"...if you're a more casual user of electronic music equipment, you shouldn't think of my devoting a column or two to a particular instrument as an endorsement or recommendation of that instrument. Many devices are interesting not because they have unique capabilities, but because their features are similar to and stimulate new perspectives regarding other, more widely known, instruments."

Bob Moog has a legendary reputation as a stand-up guy with a love of technology. I could see how he would get a kick out of new synthesis techniques when they present themselves. Anyone who thinks differently about Mr. Moog can stand in the line to my right for a punch in the neck. Thank you very much.

Anyways, Bob does a great job of comparing the CZ's digital programming parameters to those of a subtractive analog synthesizer. A good little one-pager. A definite read.

But back to the ad for a second.

In my last blog post for the CZ-5000, I pointed out Casio's marketing strategy of connecting the musician to the technology. Most other synthesizer ads of the time period just included big photos of the featured gear. Few actually included a human. Not even a hand touching the keyboard.

But Casio made sure to include that human element in their ads. In the case of the CZ-5000, it was the Miami-Vice dude. And in the case of this CZ-101 ad, its a Mike Reno (Loverboy) / Bruce Springsteen look-alike.

And to make sure to hit readers over the head with the whole technology-musician connection, they also included a visual of a dude in a lab coat next to Mr. Loverboy. They kind of look like a local TV news team doing a promo for the 10-o'clock update, turning in slo-mo towards the camera.

Nothing like including a stereotypical engineer figure in your ad to make your musician look more... er... musician-y. 

But alas... they forgot one classic piece of geek paraphernalia.

No pocket protector. Boo!   #fail.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Casio CZ-5000 "If you've got your eyes on the charts..." ad, Keyboard 1985

Casio CZ-5000 synthesizer "If you've got your eyes on the charts..." full page colour advertisement from page 132 in the October 1985 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

It's Sunday night now, and usually I've wrapped up my blogging by noon - or at least have Monday's post in the bin, and Thursday's on deck. But today was different. I woke up in one big procrastination mood.

The first thing I did, as I usually do when I wake up, was immediately reach for my tablet and check my email. I was quickly reminded by FutureShop that the WiiU went on sale this morning.  Well, I'll be darned. So much for blogging.

Historically, I'm not known for falling into the marketing hype of new products. I usually wait a year and then buy used for a fraction of the price. Computers. Synths. Everything. But recently I've gained a bit more financial freedom to make spontaneous purchases. So, recently I have made a few purchases on opening day. The Google Nexus Tablet was one of those recent purchases. And now the WiiU.

It wasn't that I was overly excited to buy one and plug it in. Sure, in the deep crevasses of my belly I could feel the beginnings of that "ooh-I'm-about-to-buy-a-new-product-and-unbox-it" tingly feeling, but honestly I think I was actually just more curious as to what kind of line-up there might be at the store.

Would it be mayhem?

Two dudes dressed as Star Wars characters?

Wait... wrong line.

I got there about five minutes after the store opened, and there wasn't a line in sight outside, and I just waited in a small queue at the checkout where they were hoarding them. When it was my turn I just paid and left. I asked the guy if there had been a line, and he said a few people came an hour and half before the store opened. But it was quite tame.

So what was my point - oh yeah - procrastination. Expensive procrastinating. For a new product that normally I would never pay top dollar for.

Thinking back while waiting in line (and stressing a little bit about what I was going to blog about), I realized that this is my purchasing model for synthesizers as well.


Buy used.

Pay less.

But there were a few synthesizers that I have bought new. My CZ-5000 synthesizer was probably the first and holds a special place in my heart. I had heard good things about the CZ-series when they first came out - all of it through Keyboard Magazine. I saved up a long time (and probably so did my parents  :) for this baby.

Opening up the old issues of Keyboard now immediately brings me back to this purchasing decision and the logic I used on my parents to borrow some cash. In the September issue of Keyboard, a month before this ad began to sporadically appear, there is a killer page-long Keyboard Report on the CZ-5000 by Jim Aikin. And reading it today, I'm reminded about Casio's jump into the professional synth market.
"Long known as an industry leader in the field of fun keyboards that you buy in the department store, Casio is attempting with their new CZ series to move into the pro musician market. They've got the marketing clout, no doubt about it, and their synthesizers have a great sound, with distinctive digital waveforms and extensive envelope shaping. But their engineering staff still suffers now and again from odd lapses of judgement that reflect their greater familiarity with the home amusement area."
The diminutive CZ-101 and it's bigger brother, the CZ-1 were part of the initial marketing launch at the beginning of 1985, but it was the later marketing push of the CZ-5000 and it's multi-timbral sequencer that finally got me hooked. Especially that endless repeat function that allowed me to have a number of different sequences with different sounds looping continuously at the same time (sound familiar?  :)

But it wasn't just this article that convinced me to buy the synthesizer new. It was actually this ad. Or, I should say, it was Casio's marketing technique used in these ads.The easiest way to explain it is to compare it to other ads in the October 1985 issue.
  • On the inside front cover of the issue is a two-page ad for the Korg DW-6000 that features a giant photo of the DW-6000.
    On the back outside cover is an ad for the Yamaha DX-7 and KX-5 that features a giant photo of both of those instruments.
  • On the inside back cover is an ad for the Oberheim Matrix-12 that features a giant photo of the synth. 
  • Linn-9000 drum machine ad - big photo of a Linn. 
  • Akai AX80 synth ad - big photo of an AX-80.
  • Roland 2-page centerfold ad for all of their current products - giant photo of the instruments.
  • Ensoniq Mirage ad - giant photo of the Mirage. 
  • Sequential Circuits MAX synth ad - giant photo of the MAX.
This list goes on and on. But do you catch it? What makes the Casio ads different.


None. There is no visual connection between the technology and the musician.

Casio knows phase-distortion synthesis is new. And they also know it can be complicated. Their marketing team knew they had to make a visual connection to a musician to push these synths into a new product category dominated by Roland, Yamaha, Sequential Circuits and Korg. A connection between the technology and a working musician. In a studio. Making music. And it doesn't hurt that the musician looks like he is right out of Miami Vice (ahem - the 80s television version).

Casio would use this visual theme and the ad-copy cues that go with it with other CZ ads

And it worked. On me anyways.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

ARP Odyssey "...and a summer full of music" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

ARP Odyssey "...and a summer full of music" full page colour advertisement from page 5 in the August 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

Aaaaah... the ART of recycling ads. And ARP has it down to a science.

Take an musician name-dropping advertisement from six months previous and turn it into a promotional free-gift ad. Magic! Same layout, fonts and logo placement.

Why mess with a good thing?

Even the first sentence is the same.
"When you play an ARP Odyssey your solos sizzle"
It's a nice catch phrase. And one that works especially well for the ARP Odyssey - mostly because it's true. NOTHING beats the truth.

The ARP Odyssey has had a good run, and although the synthesizer would be around for a bit longer, this was one of the last ARP Odyssey solo ads you we see in the pages of CK. A damn shame too. Because for the most part, ARP has consistently churned out quality solo Odyssey ads.   They are surprisingly rare for such a great selling synthesizer... but consistently good.

In fact, ARP is epic for the consistency that can be found in most of their ad series - design, terminology - everything. These two ads are a good example. And so are those "Halloween-themed" ads I blogged about recently.

ARP has also been pretty damn consistent in how they approach their name - "ARP". Always capitalized. even the press and publications such as CK always used "ARP" in all caps.

Recently I got into a rather heated discussion about the capitalization of ARP. And even better, I got to play devil's advocate. I often do this when I don't know much about a subject... such as the technicalities of the English language.  :)

Technically, the name ARP was created by using the acronym of it's founder's name, Alan Robert Pearlman. And I like names that are acronyms. For example, I couldn't think of calling IBM "International Business Machines". It would just sound weird.

 "Hey, is that an International Business Machines' laptop?"

See - awkward.

But, the actual name of the company was ARP Instruments Inc.  As far as I know it was never Alan Robert Pearlman Instruments Inc. So, shouldn't the actual acronym for the company be A.I.I.?

Trying to argue this point to an ARP enthusiast is quite entertaining until you realize just how angry you are making him. Then its just becomes as awkward as saying "International Business Machines".

Again, I admit I don't know much about the technicalities of the English language. Anything more complicated than picking out a noun or an adjective in a sentence is beyond me. So, it baffles me that "ARP", consistently capitalized in the past, is sometimes in camel-case, mostly in the quotes, of the following ads.

In the first ad above, in the third set of quotes (last sentence) it says "... like all of my Arp equipment."

It's also in camel-case all of the second ad - whether in reference to a specific ARP synthesizer ( "Arp Pro/DGX synthesizer") or the name of the company ("Naturally, the sound is always first, and Arp delivers clean, clear sound..."). And you will find this camel-case in the third ad as well.

Am I missing something? Is there some kind of grammatical thing-a-ma-jiggy that I'm just not aware of?

Or did the Logo-and-Style police (as I affectionately call them at my company) take a vacation?

Mmmmmm... vacation. I've been day-dreaming about jumping on a plane and taking a quick hop to a city near by. What is Chicago like around Christmas? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

ARP Odyssey "Your keyboard solo has to be hot" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

ARP Odyssey "Your keyboard solo has to be hot" full page colour advertisement from page 61 in the February 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

If you've been reading the blog lately, you know I've been kinda on a bit of an ARP binge recently. And although my interest in all things ARP has been slowly decreasing, two things keep me from stopping.

1. We are starting to reach the final stages of ARP's lifespan. As a collector of synths and synth magazines, there is something satisfying about covering, from beginning to end, all of ARP's ads. Well - from Contemporary Keyboard anyways. There are lots of other magazines with ARP ads. But still... satisfying.

2. I've been discovering lots of new music and bands that I would normally not venture out and listen to on my own when researching all the ARP musician endorsements. Honestly, I'm very close-minded about music. 80/90s new wave, industrial and techno - in the recent past, that's been 90% of my MP3 playlist. And I think that's why I love all these new bands I've been discovering on streaming stations like SomaFM's PopTron (no affiliation, but I do donate monthly and you should too!) that have taken all that's good about 80s music and made it there own in the 10's. ARP endorsements and SomaFM are my two favorite music-finding machines. My third is a guy named Ken who posts on my wall with a lot of new music.  :)

And so, the ARP blog posts continue with another increasingly rare Odyssey ad.  The last Odyssey ad to run in CK was the Halloween/Tom Coster ad that ended four months earlier in October 1978. And the next Odyssey ad to run after this one doesn't start for a full six months in August 1979. And in between, we have this February 1979 one-time-only advertisement featuring Peter Robinson of Brand X.

Although, unless you could actually recognize Peter Robinson in the photo, or have really good eye sight, you may not know who exactly that is a picture of. Sure, they name-bomb a lot of artists in the ad-copy, including Sea Level (another band to discover), Boz Scaggs, Chick Corea, the Starship (really - "the"?) Kansas, Brand X and others. But the only time ARP gives us the name of the musician in the photo is in very small type used in the photo credit. That could be someone from "the Starship" for all I know.

Like I had said earlier, my music tastes are rather limited (or as some people call them, down right ignorant). Sure, I know the band "Brand X", but other than listening to a few songs in my shady past, I really know very little. For the record, I did know that Robin Lumley was a keyboardist in the band but that was only because I blogged about a Prophet-5 synth review he did for International Musician and Recording World.

But apparently Peter and Brand X need little introduction in this ad with such a big photo and such small type for his name. So I'm just going to jump over to Google for a second and check 'em out....


Wait... what?

Well... Um... That's embarrassing, isn't it.

 Is everyone in on the joke but me?

Apparently Phil Collins is a member of Brand X. Yeah. *That* Phil Collins. I believe he's had a hit or twenty.

Seems I'm more musically ignorant than even I thought I was. It's laughable.

Even more funny, I didn't even recognize Phil Collins when I popped over to this Youtube video of Brand X on OGWT in 1979 and impatiently started moving the timeline around. Then when I just happened to fall on a point in the video with the singer behind the drums, it suddenly dawned on me. I then went back to the beginning of the video to watch Grizzly Adams... er... Phil Collins in the interview.

So, after writing this blog post I'm sure of two things.

1. Yup - definitely musically ignorant.

2. Yup - the Odyssey had a good run, but it is soon to end as ARP would push it aside to make room for ads featuring the the ARP family - Quadra, Quartet and electronic piano.

But its not over yet!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

ARP Arpeggio newsletter, June 1980


ARP Arpeggio newsletter from June 1980.

I've been posting ARP's newsletters a little too infrequently since late 2009. This is only my forth one after these three (click to go to the blog posts and see all the pages).

Usually I scan them over time, and then save them for when I don't have time to really blog. Figure all those pages make up for a small word count.  And that is exactly the case this time too.

But, before I sign off I just wanted to point out a few interesting things.

First, I gotta say - dang I love that Arpeggio logo. In black and white and in colour.  Both are gorgeous. Almost as good as the ARP logo itself.

The second thing is the fact that there is no Volume/# label like on the others earlier newsletters I've posted. This is only distinguished as "June 1980".  That's it.  This leads me to believe that over time these newsletters became less and less frequent. Although my Arpeggio newsletter collection isn't complete, so I can't say for sure.

Another interesting thing is the page on the Chroma. According to Wikipedia and other sources, the Chroma was developed by ARP just before the company tanked in 1981. So, its cool from a historical perspective to see the machine promoted back in mid-1980 by ARP itself. Yeah. Totally cool.

Finally - on that last page is something most awesome. Sure, ARP at NAMM '80 is some kind of awesome, but the one thing in particular on this page that raises this whole newsletter to a totally new level of awesomeness...

Yup. At NAMM '80, Mike Post and Pete Carpenter played the Theme from the Rockford Files.


Monday, November 5, 2012

ARP Soloist promo/datasheet, early 70s

ARP Soloist one page two-sided promo/datasheet from the early 70s,

I don't usually come across promo/datasheets in such good condition. Usually at least the edges are tattered and torn a bit, and there is at least one Corn Flakes stain splattered by a musician that picked up the sheet from their local instrument store to use as a place mat to eat their breakfast on.

Data sheets get no respect.

But this one is clean. Like new. And I love it.

It is an interesting piece for a number of reasons - mostly because of the colouring. Just looking at the scans you might think they are two totally separate pages. But it is in fact one piece. Red on the front (well... what I decided to designate the front) and white on the back. The paper stock is thicker than normal paper too. It has a construction paper weight to it - and you can see the roughness of the paper in the red scan. And double it because its two pieces of construction paper stuck together.

At first I thought the two pieces of paper may have been stuck together by the local store. Like, maybe they got the white datasheet from ARP and decided to add something to the back. But the work is professional. It must have been done by the paper maker/printer.

Then I thought that maybe the other side of the white data sheet had some old info on it, so ARP decided to cover it up with a promo sheet. And using a dark red colour would help keep the original info from the other side of the white data sheet from showing through. But holding it up to the light reveals that there doesn't seem to be any other info hidden there.

Another reason this piece is interesting is because it confused me at first. The "title" on the red side, if you can call it a title, reads:
"Turn your organ into the 1975 model with an ARP Soloist electronic Music Synthesizer"
1975? The Soloist?

The Soloist was the first in a string of ARP instruments that included the Soloist MkII, Pro-Soloist and Pro-DGX. My understanding, blogged about in this Soloist MK II dealer ad sheet, and from the awesome info contributed by friend of the blog Micke in the comments section, was that the Pro-Soloist was released in 1973 - meaning its predecessors, and especially the original Soloist, were prolly not getting that much 1975-love.

If that's the case, then ARP was playing the "futuristic" marketing card. Kinda like Roland did in their 1983 advertisement "Roland presents its product line for 1987". The only other explanation was that it was 1975 and ARP had a wack of Soloists lying around that they need to push out the door still. Either way, it makes it a nightmare for historians (or bloggers) to pin down a creation date on sheets like this when there isn't a "printed on" date listed anywhere.

The actual data sheet (the white side) is pretty nice. You will notice it has a lot in common with the Soloist MKII data sheet. Makes me happy.

But there was one thing that my new role as copy-editor in my day job immediately focused on: the text right at the top of the page: "Smoked Plexiglass Music Rack". You can see that "Rack" was originally typed with a small "r", and then typed over with a capital "R".

I don't know why I like finding those things.

I just do.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

ARP Omni-2 "We're a rock and roll orchestra... / Kerry Livgren" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1978

ARP Omni-2 "We're a rock and roll orchestra... / Kerry Livgren" black and white and orange full page advertisement from page five in the November 1978 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

It's Halloween night! And I've already had a recycling container and a spider monkey come to my door! They both got extra candy. Every year I get the 90 or 120 packs of mini bars and twizzlers - and every year only about forty kids show up.

But this year, even with all this candy hanging around, I've still been able to hold out and not eat a single treat. And I'm not just talking about tonight. I have yet to eat even one mini chocolate bar this year. Bam!

[kids coming to my door - ballerina in a parka, Woody (toy, not pecker), ninja, and ????]

And to celebrate, here is the second and last Omni-2 "Halloween"-themed ad, and the third in the full ARP series as far as I can tell.. Unfortunately, ARP decided to move on after this ad last appeared in January 1979. I think the theme could have easily lasted another three months, changing up the performers every two or three months. But hey, always leave 'em wanting more. Right?

[more kids - two cowboys, a princess, and Thing 1 and Thing 2!]

So, here they are all in a nice little row.

In that first one we had spooky Tom Coster, in the second happy frankenstein-like Allan Zavod, and now ghostly Kevin Livgren. A trifecta!

[kids - ghost, smurf, guy in just a hat (booo!) and a three year old batman]

There is something to be said for continuity from top to bottom - large image of musician, main quote in larger font, small more recognizable photo of musician face, three columns of ad-copy, logo, large ad-title, slogan, other musicians.

[more kids - Mick Jagger (apparently), a boat, and three girls in pajamas]

They moved around a few small bits, but overall pretty much stayed constant throughout.

[Hulk, bumble bee (insect, not robot), and a pirate]


[small child with the label Spiderman pinned to his red outfit, cheesehead, another batman]

Kids starting to come a bit faster...

[robot, cat and mouse, pikachu!]

So much yelling...

[another ninja, thing from the movie Scream (mask is off because it is "sweating her face"), another kid in parka]

I think this might be a record. I'm not gonna get anything else written.

Blogging done for tonight.