Jazz With An Expressive E Osmose Synthesizer

Sunday Synth Jam: This noirish jazz jam features sax with sounds of the Expressive E Osmose synthesizer.

Composer & keyboardist Randy Kerber and Jowee Omicil (sax) play The Long Way Home.

The version of the Osmose used by Randy Kerber in this video is the final pre-industrial prototype, integrating all of its final industrialized technology: mechanical, electronics, and sound engine.

10 thoughts on “Jazz With An Expressive E Osmose Synthesizer

  1. Beautifully rendered, but the Osmose wasn’t doing anything that couldn’t have been provided by a more standard synth. The bare minimum of the land is rich backing pads. I like hearing synths lift up various more known songs, but the Osmose has a different mission. I’m interested in seeing how things develop once a few more of them are in the field.

  2. every video of the osmose I see looks like they’re afraid to play the keys. Sure doesn’t stand up to the roli or keith mcmillan videos I’ve seen

  3. Completely disagree re “wasn’t doing anything…”. There are subtle nuances in this that would not be possible at all with most “standard synths” – maybe some software synths with a controller that supports poly aftertouch, but even that would probably not be the same.
    There is also the question of the musician’s connection to the instrument – something that is so so difficult in many situations using “standard synths”. Even when you can’t hear it specifically in the end result: similarly (a very simple example) there’s a reason some pianists find it more satisfying to play Pianoteq with a controller that has hi-res velocity, even though Pianoteq, until recently, often sounded less “real” on the surface than sampled pianos, and there’s little chance a listener can HEAR differences made possible by the extra bits of the hi-res velocity.
    And the Eagen Matrix, as it is implemented for the Continuum, is an absolute masterpiece – like combining Kyma with something like Zebra, though admittedly the back-end labor in creating the virtual instrument guts is closer to the Kyma than to Zebra’s ease of use. But the performance itself is better, because the musician is more connected to the instrument while playing.
    Which reminds me – I really hope they expand the possibilities for velocity in the Eagan Matrix, since the Osmose seems to support it in a different manner than the Continuum.
    This is the first hardware synth instrument since the Continuum EM (which was a pretty long time ago) that I’ve been genuinely excited about.

  4. Beautiful.

    Some thoughts on comments above:

    1. “Afraid to play the keys” – The relationship of the key mechanism to the synth has been described in other videos and posts. Barely moving the keys at all is an effective technique for many patches you can create. . Watch how people play the continuum – it’s a very different technique than traditional keyboard playing. You see “afraid to play the keys” – I see “hmm, ok, so that’s how subtle use of key depth works on this.”

    2. Putting aside the fact that the Osmose was indeed doing things a standard synth could not do – namely very subtle per note expression, albeit in this piece it is (appropriately) in the background and not calling attention to itself – the connection between performer and instrument is changed dramatically when you have this kind of touch response. In many cases it may not SOUND different, but that’s not the point – the musician will play BETTER when feeling a deep physical connection to the instrument. Similar to how many keyboardists (myself included) know perfectly well that a hi-res velocity controller paired with Pianoteq isn’t necessarily going to sound any different to the listener, but for some players it will FEEL different, and that results in a more intense PLAYING experience, which results in a more deeply felt performance.

    But with the Eagan Matrix on board, even from just a surface sound level there will be many things this can do that other standalone synths can’t. Software, sure, but the Eagan Matrix even bests my favorite soft synth (Zebra), though it’s tougher to program and doesn’t lend itself to real-time patching performance the way Zebra does.

    Of course it will all depend on the feel of the keys in the end, since we already know what the Eagan Matrix can do. And I hope the early statements re supporting more than 7 bit control for each dimension remain true. I find it very hard to play with subtlety on the existing MPE controllers (unless you count the Continuum). I’m one of the early backers getting one from the first batch, but if it’s back to 7-bit control, it’s going to be sitting next to the Seaboard Rise in my closet most of the time if I keep it.

    And please please please, Expressive-E, promote this with video/sound clips that aren’t primarily about imitating existing instruments – it’s kind of amazing how well the Eagen Matrix can do that in some cases but it’s so boring compared to the really deep sonic wonders it can produce. For experimental / avant-garde music it’s such a rich environment.

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