Flashback Friday: The Great Synthesizer Showdown Of 1985

The 27th Annual Grammy Awards, held thirty years ago, on Feb 26, 1985, featured an all-synth performance by the epic lineup of Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Thomas Dolby, and relative newcomer Howard Jones.

The performance has been described as “The most ’80s thing that ever happened. Ever.” Continue reading

Ray Kurzweil Awarded Technical Grammy Award

ray-kurzweilInventor Ray Kurzweil will receive the 2015 Technical Grammy Award Sunday, Feb 8th, for his work in the field of music technology.

The Technical Grammy Award is a Special Merit Award presented by vote of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Trustees, for contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.

Kurzweil is a best selling author, futurist, computer scientist and inventor. He is credited as a principal innovator of omni-font optical character recognition, text to speech synthesis and speech recognition technology.

He founded Kurzweil Music Systems in 1982 and in 1984 introduced the Kurzweil K250, a computer based instrument that could realistically create sounds of a grand piano and other orchestra instruments.  Continue reading

Peter Vogel – ‘The Man Who Revolutionised Music’

Fairlight CMI synthesizer on iPadSynth designer Peter Vogel, creator of the groundbreaking Fairlight CMI synthesizer, is featured in a new article in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Along with the print article, there is also a short video, embedded below, about the Fairlight and its influence on popular music since its debut in 1979. Keep an eye out for the clip of Herbie Hancock playing the instrument on Sesame Street: Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Bob Moog, From Stevie Wonder

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Here’s the funkiest birthday wish we’ve heard – Stevie Wonder offering his birthday wishes to Bob Moog on his 78th birthday, with a talkbox and Minimoog Voyager.

Wonder helped pioneer the use of synthesizers in popular music with his early 70’s albums, which made extensive use of Moog synths.

Continue reading

Ray Kurzweil Explains The Origin Of His Keyboards, The Coming Singularity

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Kurzweil has had a relatively low profile over the last few years – but seems to have regrouped and be making a comeback. As part of this, they are revisiting their heritage with Ray Kurzweil.

In this video, Ray Kurzweil shares the story of Stevie Wonder and the origin of the first Kurzweil keyboard. He’s joined by Kurzweil R&D gurus Tim Thompson and Hal Chamberlain. 

While obviously a promo video designed to promote the relevancy of the current Kurzweil line, the video offers an interesting view of the history of Kurzweil keyboards. And Ray Kurzweil even shares his vision of what it will be like to make music, once we reach ‘the singularity’!

How Many Stevie Wonders Does It Take To Make ‘Superstition’ So Funky?

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Every wonder how Stevie Wonder made the Superstition Clavinet part so funky?

Here, Funkscribe, dissects Stevie Wonder’s multitrack master recording of Superstition. In Protools, he isolates each of the eight Clavinet tracks to get a better understanding of the infamously funky part.

He notes, “Stevie’s Clavinet playing can not be copied, and can barely be understood!”

While Funkscribe concludes that there are 8 tracks of Clavinet that make up the funky part, it sounds like several of the tracks are actually alternate takes of the main riff and a counter-riff.

Without knowing more about mix, it sounds like it would take two Stevie Wonders to make Superstition as funky as it is.

Which means that we’re off the hook if our renditions aren’t quite so funky, right?

Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

via bobbbyowsinski