10 Videos About The Amazing Fairlight CMI

The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) is a digital sampling synthesizer, designed in 1979 by the founders of Fairlight, Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie.

The Fairlight CMI was one of the defining keyboards of the early 1980s and competed in the market with the Synclavier from New England Digital. Influential users included Peter Gabriel, Thomas Dolby, Jean Michel Jarre, Art Of Noise, Depeche Mode, Jan Hammer, Mike Oldfield and Herbie Hancock.

This series of videos tells part of the story of the amazing Fairlight CMI, and lets you see what musicians thought about Fairlights’ technology in the 80’s.

Check out Peter Vogel, above, introducing the Fairlight CMI on Australia’s ABC’s This Week, in 1980.

Above, Herbie Hancock jams with his Fairlight CMI in 1984.

In this French documentary, Peter Gabriel predicts the future of electronic music while discussing the Fairlight CMI.

In this video, the 80’s-tastic Greg Sneddon demonstrates the Fairlight CMI in 1984.

Excerpt from TV documentary about Australian venture capital industry in 1984 showing rare footage inside the Fairlight factory. Features Peter Vogel, Kim Ryrie, & Mars Lazar.

Note the change in Peter Vogel from the 1980 video above!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lt_iZLgo2f8

Is music still music when it’s played by computer?

This 1983 Today Show episode features Keith Emerson and the Fairlight CMI.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qLJj4ZgWZc

Ryuichi Sakamoto, interviewed by Jools Holland, about his Fairlight CMI.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-SNbR304HA

Check out this awesome Fairlight corporate promotional video from 1985, which features Joni Mitchell and Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9RO-iNc6S0

This video demonstrates Fairlight CMI Legacy and Supremacy, sound libraries that capture the classic sound of the Fairlight CMI.

In addition to being a promo for the sound libraries, it’s a good overview of the sounds that made the Fairlight CMI famous.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyzh-GhEILk

Finally, this video from 1989 captures the sad day, after Fairlight had failed, when the company’s assets were auctioned off.

If you’ve got other memories of the Fairlight, leave a comment below!

3 thoughts on “10 Videos About The Amazing Fairlight CMI

  1. The Fairlight will always be special to me because I grew up when Cabaret Voltaire, Sakamoto, SPK, Yello and others were just revolutionizing the use of samples – and it completely changed the way I looked at music making.

    I have no interest in finding one of them today or using soundbanks of a CMI – because it would be a bit pointless to me. The bigger impact it had was that it made it clear that anything was possible, and that the future could be a pretty cool place to work in.

    And that's not half bad. 🙂

  2. The Fairlight will always be special to me because I grew up when Cabaret Voltaire, Sakamoto, SPK, Yello and others were just revolutionizing the use of samples – and it completely changed the way I looked at music making.

    I have no interest in finding one of them today or using soundbanks of a CMI – because it would be a bit pointless to me. The bigger impact it had was that it made it clear that anything was possible, and that the future could be a pretty cool place to work in.

    And that's not half bad. 🙂

  3. Such an unbelievable instrument! Having spend a while learning sampling on an Ensoniq ASR-10 (considered a pretty impressive machine back when it came out, and to an extent, still is), it's amazing to see what the fairlight could do. The only thing separating the two (if you take out price, and size) is quality, and an FX unit built in… and that's with 13 year gap! A real eye opener seeing people messing about with samples 11 years before I even existed, doing something that I take for grated each time my computer makes a stupid noise and flashes up a dialogue box telling me it's crashed.

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