Fairlight CMI Honored Australia’s National Film & Sound Archive

fairlight-CMIAmong this year’s entries into the Australian National Film & Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia are sounds of the Fairlight CMI.

Established in 2007, the Sounds of Australia is the NFSA’s selection of sound recordings with cultural, historical and aesthetic significance and relevance, which inform or reflect life in Australia.

Here’s what they have to say about the selection of the Fairlight CMI sounds:

The Fairlight CMI was the world’s first polyphonic digital sampling synthesizer, invented in 1979 by Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, based on a dual-6800 microprocessor created by Tony Furse in Sydney.

The Fairlight grew to become one of the most widely-used synthesizers in music, being used by musicians from Kate Bush to Brian Eno, and film and television composers such as Peter Best.

Here are a few of the iconic sounds of the Fairlight CMI:


12 thoughts on “Fairlight CMI Honored Australia’s National Film & Sound Archive

      1. The National Film and Sound Archive identifies the sound as “SYNBELL 5 as featured in ‘Beat It’ (Michael Jackson, 1982)”. It is not.The Michael Jackson song was not recorded with Fairlight, the Synclavier II was used in the production.

        SYNBELL 5 was sampled from the demonstration LP “The Incredible Sounds of Synclavier II” (1981). Peter Vogel has been demoing the Fairlight 30A using the digital gong sound because “Beat It” is a song most people instantly recognize. When you consider the number of hits the Fairlight is legitimately associated with the dishonesty of laying claim to being featured on “Beat It” seems entirely unnecessary.

    1. I agree, this does seem to have originated form a Syclavier patch and is therefore not an Australian sound… I have asked the National Sound Archive to remove it from the examples on their site.

      Thanks for bringing t his to my attention Ian!

    1. via wikipedia:
      The voice was given the name ORCH5, and was possibly the first famous orchestra hit sample.[19] The sound was a low-resolution, eight-bit digital sample from a recording of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite[7] – specifically, the chord that opens the “Infernal Dance” section, pitched down a minor sixth and at a reduced speed.[20] It was sampled by David Vorhaus.[20] Music magazine The Wire suggests that the prototype sample is owned by Vivian Kubrick.[21]

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