14 thoughts on “Bach Is Back, On A Sequential Prophet Rev2 Synthesizer

  1. Wonderful performance. This sort of live performance could help convince classical fans of the importance of exploring the possibilities of performing these masterpieces on great modern instruments.

  2. Beautiful!

    I may be wrong (and I’d love to be corrected), but I thought the “switched-on style” was more of a quantized-sounding performance with synth versions of real instruments. This one doesn’t sound much like the Carlos that I’ve heard, rather it sounds like somebody just playing a really beautiful organ, which it kind-of is. Would really appreciate tips on this because I’ve not heard that much early Carlos.

    1. It is just a Bach piece played on a modern instrument and it is well played. It can be played on any instrument one prefers, some pieces by Bach don’t indicate the designated instruments anyway.

  3. Carlos’ approach was primarily dictated by the fact that early Moogs drifted off-pitch constantly. So, as long as you had to stop to retune, why not change the patch as well? Everything was put together with tape splices.

  4. Indeed, the term rather referred to making ancient music of a on an synth (you need to switch it on). Most of Carlos’s early work was not even quantized for the music was not suited for sequencing anyway. It was all played by hand, mostly monophonically, track by track. The synths used did not even have presets in the early years. And though she did use classical sounding sounds, I don’t recall she assigned them the same way as the composer intended. That is at least my two cents / recollection.

  5. I think that this was a very good performance, but it pales when compared to “Switched On Bach”. There was nothing quantized on SOB. Wendy Carlos played one note at a time, and used multi track recording. More importantly, she voiced every single note with unique articulation. In other words, one hand played the melody line on the keyboard, and the otherHand manipulated knobs on the synth. I encourage everybody to listen to SOB. I tried several times to emulate with Carlos did. It is a lot easier to just play the peace in real time, such as this performance.

  6. Nicolas, that was sublime. Nailed it! Prophets can generate a certain roundness that other synths lack. IMO, its an especially good choice for classical work.

    Its too bad that Wendy’s work got frozen by industry monsterism, which forces you to scrounge for rare albums. Neither she nor Tomita quantized; they played laboriously, note by note, twisting knobs like mad. Larry Fast’s early work was mostly mono synths and a dab of Mellotron. Same with the other two. They were doing it by hand in a way we only see in the rear-view mirror, or via plug-ins that emulate the noise floor that drove people batsh*t before laptops.

    1. Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that Carlos quantized or sequenced at all. I don’t think that level of tech was available. Indeed their whole process was impressive. But on the pieces I have heard, such as Brandenburg, large passages sound as if they are played with precision to a metronome and with constant velocity. I thought this was perhaps regarded as a core part of the “switched-on” sound. Whereas this performance has a bit more natural rubato and keyboard expression, and somehow doesn’t sound much like the Carlos I have heard. Although thanks, maybe it is more in line with Tomita or Fast.

      Incidentally if you haven’t seen it, J3PO recently put up one of the WTC48 on his prophet and it sounded pretty good.

  7. As much as I love to see the Sequential logo on their synthesizers, there’s something about the way the DSI logo looks on this instrument in particular that I prefer. Am I alone on this? Love it on all the other synths though!

    1. i didn’t think about it until you mention it,
      i hated the dave smith old logo, i took out the sticker from the front of my evolver before i even power it up.
      i saved it so if i change my mind i could put it back, i can send it to you if you want it 🙂

  8. It’s a decently expressive performance, maybe using more parameters than just velocity; I can’t quite tell just watching it.
    The central challenge is expressiveness. How many variable parameters are available to a violinist? A guitarist? How many do I have sitting at a piano? A four-manual pipe organ? And how many of these can be casually adjusted in real time?
    We have a lot to learn yet. Most of the classical-music synthesis I’ve heard in the past ten years or so is LESS expressive than conventional instrumentation. Some of my stuff is up at soundcloud.com/thebachworks. Try it on for size.

    [email protected]

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