Thursday, April 4, 2013

Roland Organ/Strings RS-09 "The Sensible Addition" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

Roland Organ/Strings RS-09 "The Sensible Addition" full-page colour advertisement from page 11 in the December 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

Roland made a lot of keyboards during this era, and their series of ads to promote all this new gear is a testament to this. The Jupiter 4 synth. Vocoder Plus with strings and voice. The RS-505 strings, brass, bass/synth. And now the RS-09 organ/strings machine.

I've gone on endlessly about the design/style of this ad series. No need to start up on that *again* (psst: really really good, especially as more ads get added to the series). But as the series begins to include more keyboards, another curious pattern begins to develop - the look of each keyboard itself. 

The Jupiter-4, Vocoder Plus, and RS-505 all look "similar" to me. I know, there are distinct differences - but they all look like they belong to the same family. But, the RS-09 looks distinctly different. Gone are the wood side panels and left-side controls. Sure, with less features (and a price tag of $795.00 to match), there are less controls in general. But to me, lacking any splashes of colour or wood, it takes on more of the look of two Roland synths that came before it - the SH-01 or SH-02 - or the SH-09 synth that followed.

I know its wrong, but it is those physical details that, in my mind, allow me to throw the RS-09 into Roland's "synth" bucket rather than the "string machine" bucket. Even with the organ-like flip-switches (I don't even know the proper name for them is), it still evokes that warm fuzzy feeling I get when I think of Roland synthesizers. On the reverse side of this weird brain behaviour is that my brain puts the Jupiter-4 into the string-machine bucket when compared to the look of the Jupiter-6 and Jupiter-8. The younger me immediately dismissed the Jupiter-4 for looking too string-machine-like next to the totally synth-y look of the Jupiter-6 and -8. 

What's really messed up about this whole situation is that once I actually listened to the RS-09, my brain wanted to immediately throw it back into the string machine bucket. I just wasn't impressed. Seriously. And I should have know better - it does say "organ" right in the name on the front panel of the instrument.

Its like in all those 80s movies when the dude puts the girl on the pedestal at the beginning of the movie, but then when he finally meets her he begins to see all the flaws. And like that guy, who at first denies the flaws and continues to try and make the relationship work, so did I do the same thing with the RS-09.

I first decided to listen to the RS-09 on Vintage Synth Explorer - they have a few audio samples on the right side of the RS-09 page. The first sample sounds okay to me, but I just couldn't get into the others. Just not my thing. But as soon as I looked back at that lovely image of the machine, my mind flipped right back into "synth" mode. I put it right back on that pedestal. 

I decided to give it another chance through YouTube. I found a decent demo with a guy who could even play.

Again, very organ-y. It just doesn't do it for me. Yet I want to buy this machine. And I want to like it.Just because of how it looks.

I know its a problem. I know its discrimination. I'm embarrassed.

Help.   :)

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