Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

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RD9
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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by RD9 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:43 am

nathanscribe wrote:
RD9 wrote:Oooh. Yes please. :D I can never turn down a good demo.
OK, give me a day or so to get round to it. If I have time tonight I'll do it then. Won't be anything spectacular, mind, but will give some idea of the way things work.
Yep, no rush. No need for spectacularity at all. :)

@calyx93: Thanks, I just looked up the Elka Rhapsody 610 (1975?) and Cordovox Model CSS/Freeman String Symphonizer (no entries in VSE).

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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by nathanscribe » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:43 pm

OK, here's a quickly (badly) recorded demo of the Korg Lambda and Roland RS-101 stringers.

First up, the Lambda with both percussive sounds (EP and Piano, with key-click, tremolo and sustain switched in) plus Strings I from the ensemble section (with the built-in chorus on that part too, and slow envelope settings). There's a bit of distortion on the attacks on the EP, but that's happening inside the Lambda - something to look at.

Second, Lambda organ. Cheesy.

Third, Lambda Brass. Note the general filter envelope retriggering every time a new key is pressed, but each key having its own volume envelope.

Fourth, RS strings and brass, with slightly different settings on lower and upper splits. Copious noodling, followed by lots of keys and some tinkering with the sustain control to show retriggering. The RS has no filter envelopes, just volume envelopes for each key, so there's no glitching like there is with the Lambda's brass sound.

Finally, and this is what it's all about, the RS through a phaser and reverb.

Stringer comparison

I hope that answers some questions.

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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by RD9 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:23 pm

Thanks! I think this is only the second time I'm hearing all of these instruments, apart from a couple of YouTube videos, so this is great. it may take a little bit of time for stuff to sink in.

On first impression, the only thing weird enough that sticks out is at 1:39-2:00 (filter env retrigger?). There is a long gap at 2:00-2:10. Is that in the middle of the Lambda sample or does the Lambda sample actually start at 2:00?

The last RS sample was epic. Really great!

I forgot to request that you play the demo with one hand only as it might have been easier to listen to the nuances, but this is great too since it gives you a sense of the complete sound each is capable of (more realistic demo).

Thanks again!

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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by nathanscribe » Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:07 pm

After 2:00 it's all RS-101. Except the phaser & reverb. The gap is to emphasise the changeover.

I honestly don't know what you're asking for about the "nuances" of single-handed playing here... repeating a note retriggers its own volume envelope in the same way it does on any other synth; only the Lambda's brass preset suffers from the "weirdness" you've observed regarding the single, overall filter envelope for that once voice only, which is retriggered by every new keypress.

Glad to be of assistance anyway.

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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by RD9 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:00 pm

Cool thanks. About the nuances: like you said, there's not much difference actually since it basically sounds like any other poly, but I just wasn't sure. Between the RS-09 and the Poly-800, I just needed dumb confirmation that there wasn't some other odd paraphonic issue that I didn't know about. In the RS-09 the limitation is obvious, but once you have individual envelopes per key, it kind of eliminates the most discernable difference (between simple paraphonics and polyphonics).

I think even in the fractional paraphonics that AG mentioned, the difference between those and real polys are minute.

Just to add some more info about where I'm coming from:
If I were to write complete songs that use only the most "primitive" synth sounds, there are a lot of things to avoid in using modern VAs. If you allow me to make an analogy, if you try to write something in the 'style' of Bach vs. the 'style' of Beethoven, there are some rules with regards to dynamics that you have to keep in mind (among other things). Some people break them, but some people do not. So in my case, if I wanted to write songs in a strict style of early electronic music, I just want to make sure I have every detail covered about what sound qualities are technically "correct" for the period and what aren't.

The weird thing I realized is that there's a lot of fuzzy overlap between paraphonic development and polyphonic development that it cannot really be organized by "period". Some advanced polyphonic instruments were developed earlier than advanced paraphonic instruments, so the notion of 'periods' is kind of out the window.

That said, if there is any kind of strict "early electronic musical style" that I would adhere to, I might avoid multiple envelopes altogether unless I am matching the sound of an RS-, Lambda, Solina, et al. Hope that makes sense. :)

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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by Denms20 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:42 am

I had a lambda way back when they first came out and loved the thing. So when one came up at a local bidboard, I threw a bid on it, not real high so I didn't expect to get it. I ended up getting that and a yamaha SK30 for a little under 200. I was kind of dissapointed when I got it home though, the lambda wasn't as good as I remembered it to be. I ended up trading it to a list member for an RS09 (which also wasn't what I remembered it to be so I got rid of that too). I did quickly record the lambda before I traded it though, nothing fancy, but here it is:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/xwn1gn
Bear with the beginning, I was proving all the notes worked. I might have recorded the RS-09 too, I'll look on an old simple drive I have..
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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by nathanscribe » Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:01 am

RD, I think if you're going to go for an old-style electronic sound with more modern gear, understanding how those early pieces worked is key to getting the results. I'd be interested to know what you're using.

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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by tom Cadillac » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:09 am

mmm me too. I think this is a very useful thread. I often turn to these old instruments instead of more complex ones. But I'v never given it much thought before. But I must be hearing a certain sound and if it can be understood and reproduced you could also boild on this to go a bit beyond what the older instruments were capable of maybe??

I love running these old things through distortion type effects though. I'v a copy of a green ringer (?) which sounds good with the RS101. Its the thickness of the sound that seems the best quality. Maybe this can be layered more with newer gear. Don't know if that makes sense. I suppose if its a string sound then the ear sort of responds to an orchestral quality??
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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by redchapterjubilee » Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:55 pm

I love the sound of stringers on record, but when I have one in front of me (I've had access to both a Korg PolyEnsemble and RS-09) I've been seriously underwhelmed. They are uninspiring to me because they are so limited...and so large and heavy! I make do with the Stringer VST and might someday try the G-Media VST.

The Sound on Sound article on stringing up stringer sounds on regular polysynths is spot on. I used his suggestions and dialed up a really nice stringer sound on my Tetra. But I can get most of the way there anyways with the Juno, using PWM, chorus, vibrato and an external phaser.
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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by Syn303 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:51 pm

There is nothing like the sound of an old string machine. I used to own 2 or 3 stringers - an Elka Rhapsody 610, Yamaha SS-30 and a Crumar Performer. These were always heavy beasts made of wood, metal and fake veneer. But they had that sound you could just not produce with anything else. However, myself being an avid synth programmer and my never ending quest to make the sounds of old synths and stringers. I managed to almost faithfully replicate the Elka Rhapsody on my Fantom workstation which took a good couple of days to get right. I used a couple of waveforms from the SRX ultimate keys board and a couple of internal waveforms from the Fantom. I added some slight reverb, delay and some LFO modulation for authenticity.

This my replication of the Elka Rhapsody 610 -
00:00-00:40: Normal Strings / 00:40-01:40: Ensemble Strings+Swell / 01:40-02:26: Strings+Harpsichord

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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by RD9 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:23 pm

Syn303 wrote:There is nothing like the sound of an old string machine. I used to own 2 or 3 stringers - an Elka Rhapsody 610, Yamaha SS-30 and a Crumar Performer. These were always heavy beasts made of wood, metal and fake veneer. But they had that sound you could just not produce with anything else. However, myself being an avid synth programmer and my never ending quest to make the sounds of old synths and stringers. I managed to almost faithfully replicate the Elka Rhapsody on my Fantom workstation which took a good couple of days to get right. I used a couple of waveforms from the SRX ultimate keys board and a couple of internal waveforms from the Fantom. I added some slight reverb, delay and some LFO modulation for authenticity.

This my replication of the Elka Rhapsody 610 -
00:00-00:40: Normal Strings / 00:40-01:40: Ensemble Strings+Swell / 01:40-02:26: Strings+Harpsichord

That's so good. I love simple, old style sounds. Some people may not be impressed with them by themselves, but I think they actually fit better in mixes.

@nathanscribe: I'm using a Supernova (v1). Best VA ever made! ;)

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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by ImperatorDX » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:43 pm

I found another quirk in Korg Lambda. I managed to control Brass decay with the decay knob in the Percussive section. :shock:

Try this: Switch on any tab in Perc, lower Perc volume all the way down. Switch on Brass and Chorus tabs in Ens. Set attack of the choir to maximum. Play with the decay knob in Perc. :lol: That shouldn't be possible, should it?
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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by Denms20 » Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:24 am

It is possible, because to keep costs down, the lambda shares a lot inside. Because of that there's all kinds of quirks that can be useful. For instance another is set the attack as slow as possible, decay as short as possible, and put on strings and organ.It takes that useless pipe organ sound and makes it more like a hammond with perc on and on soft, not close enough to call it a clonewheel, but close enough to be a bit more useful. As long as you don't hang on a note too long and play fast this works, because the strings and organ share some "oscillators", and by keeping the ones they share out of the way for a while (until the envelopes on slow bring them back in with the strings) it almost sounds like a medeski-ish 16 drawbar all the way in sound.
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Re: Questions for paraphonic strings synth experts

Post by ImperatorDX » Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:11 am

This is really cool. Lambda seems to be one of the less desirable stringers but I think it's got quite good sound "programming" capabilities. You've got those preset tabs but there are plenty of other sounds that you can make by using different combinations, onboard volume mixing, envelope layering and the EQ. There are plenty of sounds that you can get by just detuning the oscillators in different ways. I will record a demo of the variety of sounds you can get when I find more time in October. I think, among many stringers, Lambda does quite well in the flexibility/weight ratio category. Its a limited keyboard but not limiting at all.
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