Question about this Floyd synth

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ultimatefloydian
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Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ultimatefloydian » Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:29 am

I heard this particular synthesizer effect and I was extremely intrigued. I first heard it in the song Take It Back on their 1994 album, The Division Bell, and yet again in their new album. Now those of you who know the Floyd material well might be able to help me more than others, but I can't seem to get my head around this. I know Rick Wright was a master at synthesizers and effects, so I can't seem to replicate this. The way this effect worbles around the way it does it's rather mystifying to me. Here is a link to hear a good example of it off of their new album and yet again on The Division Bell . It's such a beautiful little piece of synth work and I'd really like to know how to replicate this even slightly. Now this is where other people who know Floyd material really well can help because you know like I do as well the equipment they used in the past, but I was kind of looking for a little bit of input on it. I'm pretty sure it's a hammond organ running through some kind of tremolo and flange, but I attempted to replicate it based off of what I guessed, and it doesn't quite sound right to me. So I was kind of hoping maybe somebody could give their opinions of what they think it sounds like and what they think of how it sounds in general. Thanks! :D

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:28 pm

It's probably less sophisticated than you might believe. They used Kurzweil stuff a lot back then, and it wouldn't surprise me this was done using a Kurzweil.

Just go ahead and build the sound yourself. Don't bother what was used to create the result, just go ahead and find out for yourself. There is nothing more satisfying than learning through hands-on experience :).

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by Bitexion » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:29 pm

It sounds like filter modulation via a square wave in a certain pattern, creating that almost-gated like stuttering.
The filter doesn't completely close, the cutoff level is set above zero. And some reverb too. I don't know how that rythmic pattern is done, maybe with an external sequencer/arpeggiator?

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ItsMeOnly » Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:11 pm

combo organ->VCF<-Envelope Follower<-(preamp<-mic)<-percussion
+lots of delay

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:43 pm

I don't know what track you are referring to but "combo organ" made me sit up and listen -- if it's "Astronomine Domine", it's of course the re-iterator (called "Repeat Percussion", if I recall correctly) of the Farfisa Compact Duo organ that chops the chords. Classic sound, one of the Compact Duo's trademark sounds, and also one of Rick's.

This, plus the Binson Echorec.

You can easily create such a patch on a Kurzweil 2500 -- we sampled some basic waveforms of a Compact Duo and built a Repeat Percussion effect. It sounded very convincing.

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ItsMeOnly » Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:06 am

ppg_wavecomputer wrote:"combo organ" made me sit up and listen -- if it's "Astronomine Domine", it's of course the re-iterator (called "Repeat Percussion", if I recall correctly) of the Farfisa Compact Duo organ that chops the chords. Classic sound, one of the Compact Duo's trademark sounds, and also one of Rick's.
Damn, I'm good!

*Except for a few songs, not an avid Floyd fan. Didn't even looked up they used Farfisa.

---edit 2--- very similar "device" is used in Jarre's Zoolook album, most notably in "pop" part of Ethnicolor (where is applied to looped Fairlight samples - throat singing - modified by Simmons SDS-V)

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:24 pm

To me it looks more like triggering samples from either the Dynacord ADD-One (placed on top of the Moog) or the Fairlight, using the Dynacord/Simmons pads. No black magic involved.

This is where I quit listening to Jarre for good.

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by Bitexion » Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:17 pm

Why? He was using every bit of technology that was available at the time, inluding samplers and computers, instead of looking backwards and repeating himself over and over to please some oldschool fans.

Hardly any Jarre album sounds the same since he was always on top of the latest tech at the time of recording.

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:11 pm

Bitexion wrote:Why? He was using every bit of technology that was available at the time, inluding samplers and computers [...]
Technology doesn't automatically make great music. Using technology just for the sake of it or just because you are entitled to won't make for great music either.

I hate that garish pop stuff or those three-chords-on-steroid operas on "Rendez-Vous". This was even more reactionary than using good sounds only -- which do not necessarily make a decent album, as O7-13 went to prove.

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ultimatefloydian » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:47 am

ppg_wavecomputer wrote:I don't know what track you are referring to but "combo organ" made me sit up and listen -- if it's "Astronomine Domine", it's of course the re-iterator (called "Repeat Percussion", if I recall correctly) of the Farfisa Compact Duo organ that chops the chords. Classic sound, one of the Compact Duo's trademark sounds, and also one of Rick's.

This, plus the Binson Echorec.

You can easily create such a patch on a Kurzweil 2500 -- we sampled some basic waveforms of a Compact Duo and built a Repeat Percussion effect. It sounded very convincing.

Stephen
I'm usually not a person to bring an old thread back from the grave, but I'm not entirely sold on it being a Farfisa..at least not in the samples I posted. I know that back in the time of Astronomy, it most assuredly a Farfisa, but I don't know..something about their recent work makes me believe it sounds Hammonish. I could be mistaken and they may have simply processed a sampling so much that it almost resembles a Hammond considering later on they more or less abandoned the Farfisa for a tone wheel b3. Even if we compared the Astonomy Domine sound, it has a certain selbalance, but at the same time it just sounds like it has that B3 sounding distortion. h**l it may be a combination of both knowing them (like using the Farfisa for a higher end and complementing it with a Hammond). It's probably not all that complicated but they were crafty buggers :lol:

I ended up producing a hack job variation of the effect by using an Ultra chopper and a tremolo together to create a similar coordinated uneven pattern. It's similar but still not quite there.

I also wanted to revive this for the sake of other people who may be looking for the same answer I am. Nothing worse than a thread going partially unanswered.

Edit: After a few hours of some massive tinkering, I can attest it is indeed a Farfisa. I had a creeping suspicion it might've been and I've got it damn near close to perfect. I may post an example of the work I've done to see what's you all think.

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by MeneerJansen » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:13 pm

This brilliant doc about Richard Wright (keyboard player of Pink Floyd) and his gear might help: http://sparebricks.fika.org/sbzine28/Wr ... rev156.pdf :)
Name one good song without a Minimoog.

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:18 pm

It's either a Mellotron Mark 2 or a Mellotron M-400 -- two machines of the same name which couldn't be any more different (and the M-400 wasn't released before 1970...). The Mk. 2 was definitely used on early singles like "Julia Dream", and on "Atom Heart Mother" as well.

Same thing goes for "VCS-3 Synthi A" -- two entirely different machines. A VCS-3 is no Synthi A, a Synthi A is no VCS-3, A Synthi AA is no Synthi AKS :roll:. Lists like these are fairly useless when compiled by amateurs with semi-knowledge... that much about "brilliance".

Back on topic, Rick Wright of course used a Hamond alongside his Compact Duo (as can be seen clearly in the "Pompeii" footage).

Stephen
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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by MeneerJansen » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:52 pm

ppg_wavecomputer wrote:Same thing goes for "VCS-3 Synthi A" -- two entirely different machines. A VCS-3 is no Synthi A, a Synthi A is no VCS-3, A Synthi AA is no Synthi AKS
Pink Floyd could have fooled me on that. They credit using a VCS3 in the credits of "Dark Side of the Moon", however the sequence on 'On the run' from that album was made w/ a Synthi AKS (the "S" stands for sequencer). And if I'm not mistaken the VCS3 and Synthi's share the same synthesis hardware, do they not?

Anyway the guy who wrote the Wright Gear Document might be wrong here and there, but it strikes me as well researched as can if you do not know Wright personally. Off topic: any corrections on that document (from 2004) are welcome. Since Wright passed away we do not have the possibility to ask him any-more.
Name one good song without a Minimoog.

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ultimatefloydian » Sun Feb 19, 2017 1:06 am

MeneerJansen wrote:This brilliant doc about Richard Wright (keyboard player of Pink Floyd) and his gear might help: http://sparebricks.fika.org/sbzine28/Wr ... rev156.pdf :)
Ahh, yes. The space bricks chronicles. I've been using that guide for the most part if I need to reference something, but I'll have to agree with Steven on the unfortunate inconsistency issues it has. Thanks though!

I have a feeling that quite a few things such as this (in this instance not quite specifically relevant), that Rick layers things quite a lot. Some of the stuff I've recreated has been achieved by layering different synths together like a recipe. For instance, some of the synths on the Division Bell seem like they're using something like a Solina in combination with an original sampling of the Farfisa (at least this is my theory). The sample could just be heavily processed too. I'm still not 100% sold that the examples I posted are pure Farfisa, but from the makeshift thing I assembled, it's sounding fairly genuine. The fellow above was also right about the Enveloper as well.

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Re: Question about this Floyd synth

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Sun Feb 19, 2017 1:09 am

MeneerJansen wrote: [...] And if I'm not mistaken the VCS3 and Synthi's share the same synthesis hardware, do they not? [...]
Electronically, they are based on the same circuitry, that's true. But that's where similarities cease. Calling the unit an EMS VCS-3 Synthi A or a Mellotron a Mellotron Mk.2 M-400 is just inaccurate and renders the effort that has gone into compiling such a list useless.

Rick Wright used a VCS3 as pictured, the Synthi A and AKS were primarily used by Roger Waters (who got turned on to these by Ron Geesin) and David Gilmour. The AKS was used for the "On the Run" sequence, the others were used for the sound effects on tracks like "Welcome to the Machine" (if the sources are reliable), among others.

Reading the list reminded me of that "Digital Gothic" book about Tangerine Dream... everything was mellotron, VCS-3, and Moog modular -- even when these instruments had already been confined to the closet for a very long time.

Reading this sometimes makes me cringe a bit.

Stephen
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