‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’, Arranged For Synclavier

Composer and synthesist Michael Whalen shared this arrangement of Tchaikovsky‘s Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies, from his score to the 1892 ballet, The Nutcracker.

Whalen arranged the piece for a virtual orchestra, using a rare New England Digital Synclavier 9600 system. The Synclavier 9600 is a sampling synthesizer from the late 80s. It features a hybrid synth engine, with additive, FM and sample-based synthesis, with polyphony of up to 96 voices.

Whalen played all the parts individually, drawing on the original score, and orchestrated it using custom patches.

11 thoughts on “‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’, Arranged For Synclavier

    1. Classical music fans don’t limit themselves to one interpretation – they’re smart enough to appreciate what each musician brings.

    2. Wendy Carlos’ “arrangement” was better? They both seem to be very similar in their arrangement. Perhaps you mean you prefer Carlos’ analog synthesizer sounds to Whalen’s digital sampled and synthesized sounds.

      1. Her arrangement was much more expressive and didn’t sound like a quantized sequence. Also, hers took much more skill to accomplish. It’s not the sound but how you play it.

  1. That’s some tasty Synclavier playing. He brings out what makes it so legendary. You hear this piece all too often at Xmas, but wow, what a fresh take on it. Excellent.

  2. Amazing how good a 1980s sampler/synth can sound.

    The Synclavier was/is a nice, and very musical, digital synthesis system, and is also currently available in software/plugin form. One feature that should be brought back to modern instruments and plugins is resynthesis – in this case generating additive synthesis spectral envelopes based on samples. I just wish I had that sweet Prophet T8 keybed with its expressive polyphonic aftertouch! Might work well paired with a Hydrasynth or Iridium keyboard though…

    1. There’s also an upcoming “Synclavier Regen” desktop module.

      @synthhead – synthtopia should cover this if you haven’t already!

  3. I’ve always thought synth versions of instrumental works sounded superior because you can hear all the voices and parts clearly. The instruments here sound great.

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