Canadian Musician - July/August 2017 - Page 50

We all have our favourite piece of gear. For some, it’s an old keyboard; for others, some indis- pensible peripheral or a software solution that meets our individu- al needs perfectly. Inevitably, regardless of the makeup of their rig, players have a soft spot for a vintage piece – or an easier, more reliable means of recreating it. This year, we’re going to look at some iconic keyboards, past and present, and ask a few players about their current favourites. The evolution of keyboard technology has been driven, in large part, by players’ changing and increasing demands for more ways to express themselves. Even the piano, in- vented circa 1700 by Barolomeo Cristofori, was, in part, a reaction to the need for increased dynamic range and expression over other instruments, such as the harpsi- chord. But innovations always have their detractors. The pi- ano went on to be the most popular instrument ever, but Johann Sebastian Bach was not originally a fan. It’s hard to verify this, but legend has it he actually took an axe to the first piano he was shown by builder Gottlieb Silber- mann – which would have been very rock and roll. ROB ANGELOW Classic Albums Live Yamaha MOXF8 Keyboard Roland V-Combo VR-09 Keyboard Roland JP-8000 Keyboard Roland JUNO-G Keyboard Korg MicroStation Keyboard/Sound Module Korg Electribe SX Rhythm/Sampling Box Roland SP404SX Sampling Trigger Box Neo Mini Vent Rotary Effect Pedal Mellotron The Mellotron was an evolution of the Chamberlin, where pressing a key resulted in a section of tape being pulled across a playback head. Originally, it was considered a home instrument, but was popularized for wider use 50 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N by early adopters, including bands like Genesis and the Moody Blues. Of the early models, the M400 (circa 1970) was the bestseller and although the Mellotron waned in popularity as synthesizers and samplers became the norm, they con- tinued to be manufactured until 1986. The original manu- facturer, Streetly Electronics, has since restarted production and, in 2007, introduced the M4000. Anyone familiar with the instrument knows that the beauty of the sound is, in part, the fluctuations particular to the mechanism of using recorded tape of the original instruments – flute or strings, for example. Its weight (the M400 came in at 55 kg), cost, and the negative effects of environmental factors such as tem- perature and humidity made it a bit of a beast to tour with. King Crimson’s Robert Fripp is said to have uttered, “Tuning a Mellotron doesn’t.” From The Beatles to prog rock through modern users such as OMD and, later, Oasis and Foo Fighters, among many others, the Mellotron remains an important in- strument. Among the current iterations are the M4000, M4000D Mini, and M4000D rack mount. Rob Angelow of Classic Albums Live (CAL) says he’d ideally like to have all the original boards used on the records he performs at his disposal, but it’s not feasible. Instead, he uses a Yamaha Motif and loads his sounds via USB. As for recreating the sounds of classic keys: “For me it’s about using my ears to get as close as I can to the origi- nal sounds with the assortment of keyboards at my dispos- al,” he says. “For local CAL shows in Massey Hall and what not, I might utilize my Roland JP8000 synth, which is helpful when performing a show such as Pink Floyd’s Animals. I might also pull out one of my programmable rhythm type modules to create the sounds for something like ‘On the Run’ [from Dark Side of the Moon]. Last year, The Last Waltz came up and I had to try to find those crazy Garth Hudson organ sounds and it was a stretch as he used an old Lowrey organ along with old String Machine-type keyboards that have very unique sou ^\]HۛH[\[\˸'B[Y[[\۸&]ٝ[ݙ\Y[ۈ]S x&\[\X\XX]H[[Y[ 8'x&[H\X[\\H[ˈHM [H^HXB\]ٙ\ [Z[[\X\HܚY[[M ۛH[Y܈YH]H[YKZ[H[\\[[ [\X[\Z[\X[H[[HHXوHZ[ ۞H[\[^\Y[[[ۙ^H]\]H^KB\^Y\[0Y[ۈ\\][H[ZHBY[H[^H]8&\YH\XYXۈYK'B]ZY H[Y][\X\Y\]Z\Y˜Y[ۈ[[\ZH\[[XKBXZH[YX\Y\\Y[YH\X[XZHS '[\\و]x&YZHYH\[X[YX\\˜ܙX]K܈\\[ܙHY[ۈ[\\^[ۙB]H[\\H[و8']ؙ\HY[8'HX\œXY[H]Z[XKx&YH[܈HY\؛K[\[[ˈ܈YKHY[ۈ[ZH[HB\و\Z\܈Z\H[HH8&]\وX][&x'