A Young, Bare-chested Vangelis Improvises A Symphony

Sunday Synth Jam: We’re not sure about this history of this Vangelis synth jam, which VideoheadsNL places in his Paris studio around the time of his sessions for the album See you Later.

The video is marred by some bizarre zoom effects and by the Videoheads Amsterdam logotype.

In spite of that, the video is epic, capturing a young, bare-chested Vangelis improvising a neo-classical orchestral electronica symphony. It many ways, the music is unlike anything in his recorded output – except for the way the music seems to spring fully formed from Vangelis’ imagination.

Check this bit of electronic music history out – and let us know what you think of it!

via reader Zyser Ous

18 thoughts on “A Young, Bare-chested Vangelis Improvises A Symphony

  1. Typically lush and romantic. I wonder if “symphonic synths” did not partially fall out of favor because very few people seem willing to confront the task of thinking on several levels at once as orchestration rather than just clips. I don’t know if they are too mesmerized by dance or simply don’t listen broadly enough to develop their appreciation for that sort of great compositional beef. I think you miss a lot if you DON’T sit and wail like a fool from time to time. Its often where you make good mistakes to build on, as well as learning to avoid the bad ones. You are less likely to expand your range if you always start by trying to sound like BT. Sometimes it should be Spike Jones and sometimes, Mahler. Well, maybe not too much Mahler, as really engaging his work is like a middle-weight boxing match for the ears. All the same, Vangelis is one of the godfathers who showed off the heights of synths, rather than just the novelty. I would not enjoy them as much as I do without his contributions. Classy.

    1. There’s hope: I’ve been really enjoying Keudo’s album, “Severant”. Apparently, he was a notable big-time dubstep producer (1/2 of Vex’d) before developing a really nice romantic Vangeliis-ish sound.

      1. Been listening to him as well, Vectoral I think is my favorite track, although I feel that sometimes he went off tempo just to prove that he wasn’t quantising.

  2. Wow!
    I am by no means an authority on Vangelis, but judging by the equipment and the age of Vangelis, my guess is that this clip is closer in time to his “Earth” album or perhaps the period around the ” L’. Apocalypse Des Animaux” album. Which would date this clip to the early 1970’s.
    By the time of the “See You Later” album (1980), Vangelis was using the CS80 along with a host of synthesizers current to the 1980 time period.
    Anyway, this clip is a great find and I thank whoever posted it.
    Great share…

    1. He once mentioned having gotten into the guts and modified an organ to provide longer release times. Since a Hammond is a crude additive synth of sorts, he built a sawtooth “patch” and voila, instant string section. He was also one of the first people who could afford the early reverbs and other time-domain effects, which were often several thousand bucks, where now, they are $300 boxes and $30 apps. A fortunate confluence of technology and timing, falling into such great hands at the right time.

  3. The thing about this piece is it feels like he is paying homage to a line musical thinking rather than trying to one-up the modern popular trends. Even The Doors have traditional elements all over their pieces Its just a sign of superior taste and sophistication

  4. I love this way of performing and working out arrangements. It’s my ambition to have a stack of keyboards to play in a spontaneous manner like Vangelis does here. That’s when the best music comes out. I’m increasingly leaving the sequenser out of the creative process until I’m ready to record.

  5. OMG VANGY THA PIMP. http://bit.ly/OodDFT

    Oh man, I wonder if Vangelis ever got in a wrestling ring. He strikes me as the type that could execute such “gentleman bastard” theatrics like Bane because his dynamic range extends from the fragile to the brutal (Beaubourg ring-mod, anyone?).

    One of the reasons why we don’t have more spiritual successors to Vangelis relates to popular trends resulting in lost knowledge of the earlier electronic grandmasters — Vangelis himself mentioned in various interviews that he makes what is “unfashionable”, and his dream of spontaneous music interaction is (and has not) been realized by music manufacturers. We have a disproportion biasrd towards individuals who are highly skilled at step-time programming yet can’t improvise. This strikes me as an awkward balance, as if one grasps the yin but not the yang. Vangelis doesn’t like many layers of step-time tweaking in between — which makes me curious if he’s used VSTs?

    What’s more, there are many new producers who don’t yearn to study the history of the craft — “Kraftwerk who?” so it’s healthy when “vintage” videos are exposed on Synthtopia alongside contemporary fare. Get audiences curious about this culture… our sonic ancestors! I always encourage researching what has come before so one understands the progression of electronic music.

    Expression popular on some earlier synths, like the CS-80’s ribbon controller and polyphonic aftertouch, is presently obscure now. People are more apt to spring for a DJ-style scratch/pad controller, although I’ve seen hope in the ways of some USB Arduino kits. Still, the likes of a Haken Continuum is much too expensive for most, so democratizing that technology to bedroom producers (who expect a lot of free/bargain goodies) is largely challenging. Many will remain unaware of those possibilities. But! We have some promise with iPad apps. I reckon the twain shall meet when there is more tactile feedback within these touch surfaces.

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