Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

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Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby themilford » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:15 pm

Well, I'm a total Rush nut... and specifically a huge fan of Signals from 1982 and Grace Under Pressure from 1984.

I find myself listening very intently, reading older magazines and tour books and watching live videos trying to figure out what exactly Geddy really had going on.

Up until Moving Pictures in 1981 I assume he was primarily using the Minimoog, Taurus pedals and the Oberheim 8-voice... with a fair bit of OB-X on MP... but there seems to be little or no use of sequencers quite yet. So, If he's playing bass then keyboards are played with the feet. I also know Alex Lifeson was known to play a little Taurus where needed as well. "Vital Signs" on MP seems to be the only song which features an arpeggiator...

But on Signals we see the addition of the OB-XA, the DSX, Jupiter 8, the TR-808 (for syncing?) and much use of sequences and layers maybe even a few triggered tones or events... With Grace under Pressure we get the PPG Wave and even more triggered events and sequencer... as well as a few songs that don't even have Geddy on bass guitar at all (Afterimage and Red Sector A)

What I'd love to figure it out is how it was all done, live and on record; which synths and sounds were used on which songs for which parts and just how he managed to juggle switching from bass to synths and back again...

You experts can probably figure it out all very easily after watching or listening.

First up... here's a good example of Geddy switching seamlessly between instruments, sequenced and played:
Watch on youtube.com
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby Z » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:25 pm

Not sure about Geddy using a JP-8, but I do believe the 808 was used for synching sequencers & arpeggiators.

Can't rememeber what year Grace Under Pressure came out, but there's some great PPG Wave on that album.
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby adhmzaiusz » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:28 pm

Sweet! Count Floyd is introducing that song! SCTV FTW!

Hard to really see what Geddy's got but that arpeggio sounds very oberheim.
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby themilford » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:39 pm

Z wrote:Not sure about Geddy using a JP-8, but I do believe the 808 was used for synching sequencers & arpeggiators.

Can't rememeber what year Grace Under Pressure came out, but there's some great PPG Wave on that album.


Both the Signals and Grace Under Pressure tourbooks say he was using the jupiter 8... and it's visible in a bunch of shots in the P/G live video...

Pretty sure it's the JP8 doing the bass arp in this song:
Watch on youtube.com


And visible in this video @ 0:51 (under the OB-Xa to his left):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu9Ycq64Gy4

Grace Under Pressure is 1984.
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby Z » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:06 pm

Hard to make out the bottom synth in the YouTube video. I'll have to dig up my GUP Laserdisc for a better view. Haven't watched it in nearly 20 years. Hope my LaserDisc player still works :)

If the tourbook says a JP-8 was used, I believe it.
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby redchapterjubilee » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:13 pm

themilford wrote:Up until Moving Pictures in 1981 I assume he was primarily using the Minimoog, Taurus pedals and the Oberheim 8-voice... with a fair bit of OB-X on MP... but there seems to be little or no use of sequencers quite yet.


Reference "The Spirit of Radio" from Permanent Waves (1980). Prominent sequence in the "invisible airwaves crackle with life" portions, courtesy of an Oberheim OB-1. There is an excerpt on one of the R30 discs of a 1980 soundcheck with Geddy running the sequence quite visibly from the OB-1.

themilford wrote:But on Signals we see the addition of the OB-XA, the DSX, Jupiter 8, the TR-808 (for syncing?)


Yes indeed for syncing. He used it live to drive the JP-8 (look for it on the Grace Under Pressure Tour DVD) with the accent out and then send Neil a click pattern to play to for "Red Sector A".

Watch on youtube.com
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby Z » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:26 pm

Here's something not in the 80-84 discussion, but I thought I'd share it anyway: scan from Sept. 1990 Keyboard:
Image
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby themilford » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:20 pm

redchapterjubilee wrote:Reference "The Spirit of Radio" from Permanent Waves (1980). Prominent sequence in the "invisible airwaves crackle with life" portions, courtesy of an Oberheim OB-1. There is an excerpt on one of the R30 discs of a 1980 soundcheck with Geddy running the sequence quite visibly from the OB-1.


Oh snap! I knew this but forgot... I didn't know it was the OB-1 though I just assumed it was the 8-Voice. Thanks for the info. Looks like after the MP tour he stopped using the OB-1. I imagine he used the OBX or OB-XA to do this sequence after 1982 though...

I think we just posted the same video. :P

Here are the two synth lists from the Signals and Grace Under Pressure tour books:

SIGNALS TOUR:
OBERHEIM OBX, OBXA with a DSX Digital Sequencer, interfaced with two Moog Tarus Pedals. Roland JP 8 Synth, and a Roland 8o8 Compu-Rhythm working in conjunction
Mini-Moog with Yamaha E1010 Delay.
Also featuring the fashionable, new, Jack Secret Keyboard Stand and Switching System! No home should be without one!


P/G TOUR:
PPG Wave 2.2#, Roland JP-8 and TR 808, Oberheim OBX-A and DSX digital sequencer, Moog Taurus pedals and Minimoog.
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby themilford » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:48 pm

Image

From the Power Windows tour book:

Oy! Oy! Headache!!

So! I had to go and get a bunch of Emulator II Computerized Synthesizers, and a DX 7 (Yamaha) and a QX-1 Sequencer (also Yamaha), along with my regular PPG 2.3 and JP 8 (Roland) Oy!! And, if that wasn't enough, I have to keep these offstage, so Jack Secret can load the Emulator computer disks during the show while I play them with remote keyboards (two Yamaha KX 76 Remote Midi Controllers!) Get it ! But wait!! Who's going to load Jack Secret!


Signals Tour Photo:
Image
you can see the JP8 on the bottom left... on top of the OB-Xa is the DSX and TR-808... is that a midi-mod I see on the side of the OB-Xa?
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby themilford » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:36 pm

Looks like he's playing a little JP-8 on this song... you can tell that he's playing the lower keyboard on the left a bit, which is the JP.

looks like he makes use of all the boards in this one really...
Watch on youtube.com
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby ronP » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:24 pm

oo


Good post! Twas the "Subdivisions" video that turned my attention from Bach minuets to multiple synthesizers.

;)

I heard a brief interview on FM radio (Rockline?) back in the spring of 1984 during the start of the GUP tour. Geddy Lee was on stage during sound check and he demoed his synths for the interviewer. He said the ROLAND Jupiter 8 ;) was used for the arpeggiated basslines and bright resonant fifth chords on "Digital Man" and "The Weapon" and the "angry sound" of the verses on "Between the Wheels" . . .

Thanks for the TR-808 revelation. I always assumed Geddy Lee used the OBERHEIM DSX and DMX in tandem for click tracks and such.


oo
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby redchapterjubilee » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:03 pm

I read the TR-808 part in a Modern Drummer magazine way back in the day, probably 1987 or so. I'm a drummer first and foremost, and that was definitely during my obsession with Neil Peart period.
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby Micke » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:14 pm

Some info on Geddy's use of bass pedals...

As you know the Oberheim 8-voice (and later the OB-Xa) was interfaced with the Moog Taurus pedals. When
Geddy depressed a pedal he not only got the bass pedal sound itself, but also the program/sound that was up on the
8-voice (or OB-Xa), so he could play two synthesizers at the same time with just his feet.

Usually he would play the lower half of the keyboard with the bass pedals and the upper half with his hand(s), but
I noticed in the live footage from the EXIT..Stage Left Tour (late 1981) that he sometimes played high string parts
with the Taurus pedals (triggering the 8-voice) at the same time as he played the bass guitar.

I also read that Geddy's keyboard tech put switches on the bass pedals which allowed Geddy to choose one of
three octaves on the OB-Xa that the pedals triggered: the lower octave, the middle octave or the top octave.
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby themilford » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:07 pm

redchapterjubilee wrote:Reference "The Spirit of Radio" from Permanent Waves (1980). Prominent sequence in the "invisible airwaves crackle with life" portions, courtesy of an Oberheim OB-1. There is an excerpt on one of the R30 discs of a 1980 soundcheck with Geddy running the sequence quite visibly from the OB-1.


Found the vid... what sequencer is he using to do this?
Watch on youtube.com
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Re: Let's Dissect Geddy Lee's Use of Synthesizers; '82 - 84'

Postby Micke » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:41 pm

The Oberheim DS-1 sequencer, you can see it in the video (the white boxy thing).
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