Here’s a contemporary television commercial for the introduction of the Mattel Optigan – a sample playback keyboard. It was introduced in 1971 and produced through 1976.
Optigan.com has announced a new Optigan disc, Wurliscape.
Here’s what they have to say about it:
WURLISCAPE represents the next evolution in the Optigan disc concept we starting with Pianoscape and Vibrascape. This disc is not intended for playing “tunes,” rather it’s a sort of ambient arpeggiator of sorts (with the sounds of a familiar vintage electric piano on the keyboard), paired with a repository of previously unreleased vintage drum and percussion loops from the original Optigan master tapes spread over the chord buttons (well, except for a few of the chord buttons, which have bass patterns- but we’ll get to that later).
The keyboard features a series of simple two-note rhythmic patterns that, when combined, can create complex arpeggiated chords. All patterns comprise only “white” notes, which means that since the Optigan keyboard stretches from F to F, everything is more or less in the F-Lydian mode (aka C Ionian mode). This ensures that most combinations of patterns will produce a harmonically consonant composite pattern, though the harmonic possibilities remain vast.
The Evil Eye is an analogue audio project, created by Belgian collective Indianen, that uses optical disks on a turntable, instead of audio disks:
Instead of cutting grooves onto a surface, custom software allows the artists to design and print black-and-white waveform patterns as PDFs, which are then screenprinted onto 12-inch optical discs and played back on a turntable using specialized light-sensing hardware instead of a needle. The waveforms can be either shaped manually in the software or imported / modified from existing patterns.
Playback is controlled using a handheld optical sensor.
The Evil Eye recalls the optical wave playback technology used in devices like the Optigan.
Optigan.com has announced a new sound disk for the Optigan sample playback keyboard, Vibrascape.
Here’s what they have to say about Vibrascape:
Vibrascape presents the sound of the vibraphone in a uniquely Optigan fashion. The keyboard tones are arranged as a series of rhythmic patterns that create hypnotic, pulsating soundscapes when chords are played. (This disc is not particularly suited to melodic playing).
The chord buttons feature sustained bowed vibraphone chords. The special effects switches help keep the groove going with a selection of rhythms from the Maestro Rhythm King MRK-2, an old-school beatbox and technological contemporary of the Optigan. Optigans equipped with a spring reverb will provide the most haunting sound, which is further enhanced by inserting the disc upside-down for backwards play.
LEFT HAND: Bowed Vibraphone.
RIGHT HAND: Vibraphone Rhythms.
SPECIAL EFFECTS SWITCHES: 1. Samba, 2. Rhumba, 3. Bossa Nova, 4. Bolero, 5. Go-Go.
The Optigan Vibrascape Disc is available for pre-order for $99.99 at the Optigan.com site.
Back in the day, before sample libraries and before digital samplers, there were primitive sample playback keyboards like the Mellotron, the Optigan & the Vako Orchestron. Their lo fi characteristics make them interesting instruments, despite their multiple flaws.
For several years, Optigan.com has been creating new and updated discs for the Optigan and Orchestron. Their latest discs include three libraries for the Vako Orchestron: Flute, Cello & Vibraphone.
This series of videos demonstrates the Vako Orchestron sample playback keyboard, which was an improved version of the Mattel Optigan optical disc playback sampler.
via Optigan.com, which is making new sound discs for both the Optigan and Orchestron.
The Optigan is an optomechanical sample playback keyboard that was made by Mattel in the 70’s.
We had a chance to talk briefly with Pea Hicks at the 2011 NAMM Show and he’s got some interesting things in mind for the Optigan platform, but he did not want to announce them officially, prematurely.
Optigan has introduced their first 2-disc Style Pak release, STRINGS.
The two discs are individually titled CHAMBER STRINGS and SYMPHONIC STRINGS. This is a very utilitarian sound set for the Optigan, featuring the “Violin” and “String Ensemble” keyboard sounds previously only available on the Orchestron, each with matching string pads on the chord buttons. Continue reading