Monday, April 1, 2013

Roland Paraphonic RS-505 "It Starts as a Symphony Orchestra" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

Roland Paraphonic RS-505 string synthesizer "It Starts as a Symphony Orchestra" full page colour advertisement from page 5 in the September 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

This wasn't the first advertisement to feature the RS-505, but it made sense to post it now since it's part of the Roland series of ads I'm currently infatuated with. In fact, I probably should have started with this ad since it was the first of the series to appear in the September 1979 issue. The Jupiter-4 ad started a month later in October, and the Vocoder Plus the following November.

On its own, it is a pretty ordinary looking ad. But as you put the series of ads together, they start looking a lot more like a set of Pokemon cards you want to collect and preserve. Distinctly different, but yet definitely complimenting each by following a tried and true formula - Ad title/photo/three columns of ad copy.

For the longest time I couldn't put my finger on it - but it must have been sitting there in my subconscious for a while. What I finally figured out was that one of the big reasons I'm drawn to these ads is that they all contain the retail price of the instrument. In the case of the RS-505 its $1,695.00. I have a lot of respect for a company that is willing to put a price in a magazine ad. And I think consumers, even more than 30 years ago, realized that this was the retail price and chances were that they could pick it up in-store much cheaper. 

Flipping through the rest of the September 1979 issue of CK with this in mind (a great activity for an Easter Sunday while sipping a coffee and beheading a white chocolate bunny) one will quickly realize that none of the other big ads had included the price:

Another interesting point about this ad (and some other RS-505 advertisements I've run across) is that Roland itself never refers to the RS-505 as the "Paraphonic RS-505". "Paraphonic" is not only a cool word that balances on that fine line between technology and art, it's also clearly labelled RIGHT ON THE FRONT PANEL OF THE INSTRUMENT. Why not include it in the ad-copy? Even today, my small circle of synth addict friends always refer to the machine the Paraphonic 505. Time has spoken. Its a well-liked term.

In the past I've had a bit of a chip on my shoulder for string machines. They didn't offer the full control of a synthesizer and so as a youngin' I probably wrongly considered them like toys. I'm not sure if it was when I got my Korg Trident, or maybe when I starting paying more attention to bands that regularly used string machines like The Cure, but I've grown wiser with age. But, there is only so much real estate in the studio, and if I have to choose between making space for a keyboard like Roland's  Jupiter 4 or 6, or the RS-505, the true synthesizer is going to win most of the time. I'm sure I'm loosing out through my discriminating behaviour.

Maybe its just time to take down a wall or two (figuratively and physically) and just double the size of the studio.

But first, Time to start on the legs of that bunny. 

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