New Wurliscape Optigan Disc

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 layout is thus:

White keys:

  • 1st octave: patterns in 5ths, all perfect except for B, which plays a dim 5th (B-F)
  • 2nd octave: patterns in 4ths, all perfect except for F, which plays an aug 4th (F-B)
  • 3rd octave: patterns in 3rds, F, G & C are maj, A, B, D, & E are min

Brown keys:

  • Patterns are on the note 1/2 step lower than the key itself, ie the F# key plays an F pattern, G# a G pattern, etc.
  • 1st octave: patterns in perfect octaves
  • 2nd octave: patterns in 7ths, F & C are maj, G, A, & D are min
  • 3rd octave: patterns in 6ths, F, G, C, & D are maj, A is min

Rhythmically, the patterns are arranged such that playing any three chromatically adjacent notes produces a complete composite rhythmic pattern in 8th notes. Other combinations of notes will produce less complex composite sub-patterns.

Most of the chord buttons have drum/percussion loops of various types, but the F, C, G, D, A, and E maj chord buttons have single-note bass patterns on those corresponding notes. This is to help fill out the low end of the harmonic spectrum. The decision to feature a variety of drum/percussion loops expands the versatility of this disc for those who simply wish to use the Optigan as a lo-fi drum machine.

See the Optigan site for details.

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