Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

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Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by HideawayStudio » Sat Apr 25, 2009 10:28 am

Any ideas which synth played the main line starting 20 seconds into A-Ha's - Take on Me? Also - any idea what the bass was from - are we talking PPG Wave territory here? There is something Microwave I sounding about this track - hence my suspicions that it might be PPG. :?:

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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by OriginalJambo » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:08 pm

Think the bass is DX7 - at least it certainly sounds like it! This may be true of the lead too, although I'm not sure.

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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by Synthprophet » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:10 pm

Yes the bass is DX-7 as far as I know. Magne was a heavy DX-7 user. Regarding the lead it has been discussed several times before, however it never ends with a 100% conclusion.
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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by bluedad » Sat Apr 25, 2009 4:12 pm



don't know when this live video was made, but he's playing a Waldorf keyboard


edit: but who knows? on a live version from '92 can't really tell but it's got a large lcd in the middle...

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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by Micke » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:14 pm

Yeah, I'm pretty sure the bass is DX-7. The other synths used on that album included Prophet 5 and Fairlight CMI.
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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by Computer Controlled » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:11 pm

In the video, he's playing a DX7 for all the lead sounds...
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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by HideawayStudio » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:59 pm

Micke wrote:Yeah, I'm pretty sure the bass is DX-7. The other synths used on that album included Prophet 5 and Fairlight CMI.
Although I don't doubt the bass is DX (allegedly factory patch #12: "E. BASS 1") I'm far from convinced that the lead synth is any of the above - it sounds like quite a comlex evolving sound through filters - hence my PPG suggestion. Having spent a bit of time researching this one on the net it turns out that although many A-ha pop videos featured a Prophet 5 there is some good evidence that the sound used in the studio was indeed at least in part a PPG Wave 2.3
Last edited by HideawayStudio on Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by clusterchord » Sun Apr 26, 2009 3:29 am

what they play in video is pretty much irrelevant, as with many other acts and videos of the time.. they did use those boards, but not necesarily on those parts..


they did use PPG, Jupiter8 and Rev3 Prophet 5 on the record, and the lead sound on "Take On Me" certainly has a lot of Prophet's Curtis character. as a matter of fact i find this is a classic "sparkly" P5 Rev3 sound. Whether its dbld with something underneath its hard to say.

bass is DX7 patch, some variation on "Solid Bass" theme. same thing here, it was popular layering a JX, Xpander or something analog under DX7, just a touch of dark bass. hardly noticeable, in order to get more low end. tho this sounds pretty clean dx7 to me.
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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by gcoudert » Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:25 am

If you listen carefully to the lead line, it is made up of two sounds. The first has a short decay and is an octave lower than the second, which has a longer release. This suggests three possibilities:

1. 2-synth layering. DX7 and what else? Did their Prophet 5 have MIDI?
2. Jupiter 8 in dual mode
3. a 2- or 3- 'system' (in Howard Massey parlance) DX7 patch

As it happens, I have in my TX7/DX7 bank a sound called "Kenjo-Ji" which I believe came from a 3rd party cartridge originally. It has a lot of LFO assigned to pitch but when you remove the said LFO, the patch sounds a lot like the "Take on me" lead line. It has both the short decay and the longer release elements.
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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by iProg » Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:28 pm

Just like in "Wouldn't It Be Good" by Nik Kershaw, the main lead theme is DX-7 doubled with PPG Wave.

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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by HideawayStudio » Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:46 pm

iProg wrote:Just like in "Wouldn't It Be Good" by Nik Kershaw, the main lead theme is DX-7 doubled with PPG Wave.

OK - this sounds far more plausible....

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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by aXL » Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:00 pm

I've asked Magne about this myself once (as I mention every time the thread pops up here...) and the answer was indeed a mix of Prophet, DX7 and PPG Wave, "my absolute favourite synth in the 80's - impossible to program, but what a sound!" However, I'd imagine he was referring to the layers; a Prophet pad, a DX7 bassline and PPG lead. They were big on the DX7 bass sound back then, and were force-fed the Fairlight by producer Tony Mansfield on the debut album. In the end, two of the tracks (TOM and The Sun Always Shines) were done with Alan Tarney instead because of the studio tension. Two albums later and they were force-fed Alan Tarney. Go figure...
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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by iProg » Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:59 am

Indeed. You can hear the Prophet pad (at least in headphones) and that the lead melody line is layered...

So, that's the answer, mr HideAway ;)

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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by caixa » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:57 pm

I know this is an old thread, but I passed through here looking for an answer to this question and eventually found it elsewhere. This may well be common knowledge now to those above, but for anyone else reading this thread still in search of the answer, the lead line was played on (drum roll please) a Juno 60! At least according to both Alan Tarney and engineer Gerry Kitchingham in a Sound on Sound article from March 2011 [p50-55]

“When they came to RG Jones, my equipment was already there,” adds Tarney. “This included a [Roland] Juno 60 that provided the song’s main theme and which I still use…”

"One of the things they did almost right away was to get the main riff sound with the Juno 60.” [Gerry Kitchingham]


also at:
soundonsound DOT com/sos/mar11/articles/classic-tracks-0311.htm

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Re: Lead Synth on A-Ha's Take on Me?

Post by philip » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:43 pm

The main lead is Juno 60 layerd with dx7, it's been discussed about 1000 times! The Pad sound is Prophet5!! The bassline is DX7! The bell sound is PPG!!Fairlight for FXs!!

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