Saturday, 18 May 2019

A master of the keyboards - Rick Wakeman at 70

Rick Wakeman, one of the most prominent rock legends and keyboard virtuosi, has turned 70 on 18 May.

At a young age having become known as a formally trained keyboard wizard in the progressive rock band Yes, he moved on to a hugely productive solo career, too.

Something that is absolutely essential to stress in Wakeman's case, when comparing him to other keyboard giants of the era, is that his phenomenal command of music theory and technical abilities were never self-serving and purely for show.

It is rare to have a keyboardist with vast imagination rendering vast orchestral and choral arrangements seemingly effortlessly, coupled with stunning technical ability - and still, not to have the musician venture into empty bravado just to show off his skills.

Apart from his classics like The Six Wives Of Henry VIII and the epic Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, some of his maybe lesser known concept albums like Criminal Record can demonstrate his ability to imagine huge instrumental pieces, with towering complexity but also with great expressivity - and making them seem effortless. One such track is Judas Iscariot from aforementioned album...

Whilst in the UK, especially with the arrival of punk, a lot of the excesses and visuals of the prog rock bands have gone through much ridicule, some of us had the fortune of accessing such music, very much including Rick Wakeman's monumental compositions via just the music alone.

Often the original album was not even available in certain Easter Bloc regimes that suppressed such music. Concert footage with capes and wizard outfits and knights ice skating on vast stage sets were absolutely impossible to get hold of.

Thus, one can never forget how 'accessing' such music through just the music, often via some third-hand cassette copy in the 1970s and 1980s of Communist dictatorships, was a life-changing experience.

The huge mistake in pigeonholing such music as 'prog rock excess' is that, obscured by the visual excesses of the era, the actual music is not analysed for what it actually is.

The musicianship of those bands, and that of Rick Wakeman, is still a lesson to myriad aspiring and competent, even successful, musicians today.

Sure, as he wrote in his inimitable style in his autobiographical Say Yes, there have been many hilarious stories and escapades both on and behind the stage...

Whilst he is renowned for the epic scale compositions, and the superhuman keyboard performances delivered with breathtaking technique, Rick Wakeman has often changed direction and could surprise fans with music that would never have been thought as something that emanated from his studio.

Such example is the absolute tranquility and subtlety of something like his Sun Trilogy, with the opening track of the first album below.

He often turned to solo piano, too, and leaving aside the many stacks of many synthesizers, could compose and perform exquisite gems of piano pieces, like the following from his album Night Airs.

His creative appetite and even his touring efforts have not stopped, still very active in both the studio and on stage.

Many happy birthdays, and continued inspiration for the future!

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Korg Nu:Tekt - The birth of a whole developer ecosystem?

At Superbooth 2019, KORG have introduced the Nu:Tekt digital DIY synth.

The idea itself is splendid, but a significant aspect in these first few hours and days seems to be overlooked by most if not all initial reports.

The digital engine in the little module is basically the one inside the flagship Prologue and the Minilogue XD. The huge significance of users being able to write their own algorithms for any digital oscillator or effect they can think of was revolutionary, and covered on this blog, too when Prologue came out.

However, even beyond this, let's imagine for a moment that this little box of fun can be basically a relatively low cost developer platform for anybody who does not yet own, did not think about diving into, or was not able to dive into the world of actual synthesizer keyboards yet.

Anybody from tech savvy kids in schools to erudite tech enthusiasts approaching the world of sound synthesis & processing can use this little synth - and develop oscillators and effects usable in even flagship synths. The potentials for idea exchange and development are endless.

Once one got something working, it can be directly ported to the flagship Prologue synth's multi-engine, or to the Minilogue XD that shares same multi-engine basically. 

This could well be the device that possibly triggers the birth of an entire ecosystem and whole developer communities.

One may not have a Korg synth (yet), but can develop synthesis or processing modules that can be actually used on the "big" Korg multi-engine synths mentioned above.

Also, think of the "pull" from higher-end products... if one develops something on this, will want to hear it and try it out on a Minilogue XD or even Prologue...

In addition, if we think how this can get VST developers to get creative on this platform, at a low cost, it can really "explode" the possibilities and the range of custom algorithms.

Therefore, it is a very astute move by KORG, and it is highly significant how they open the product up rather than lock it into manufacturer preconceptions on how we should or could use it.

The video below is a Superbooth interview by Synth Anatomy:

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Brian Eno's "dangers" of digital...

A not too old, not too recent Brian Eno interview posted in one of the synth forums is a superb concentration of many ideas and aspects that exemplify how countless (and sometimes endless) threads on topics like DAW vs. DAWless recording, digital vs. analogue etc. have often contrived premises.

To confuse or deliberately conflate medium and content, tool and its user, technology and its use cases is a fundamental reasoning error, irrespective of the subject matter and regardless of who of what stature may commit it.

So how does a short article with a short interview manage to condense such a respectable list of faux pas? Well, where the journalist goes wrong is the classic problem of considering who says something instead of looking at what is being said, without suspending one's analytical and reasoning abilities. Also, he makes huge leaps based on what Eno is saying, some sweeping statements are not just simply wrong, but also disregard vast segments of the creative community in order to make some highly tendentious points.

The article suggests that digital, allowing myriad editing and correcting, is somehow more "dangerous" as we may "lose" something that we may have had if we had laboured on that recording via unforgiving and immutable means.

"Do I resist the temptation to perfect this thing? What do I lose by perfecting it? It’s difficult. Because now it is possible to mend anything, correct anything. "

Well, as complicated and philosophical one might make it, it is remarkably simple: everything is a mere matter of choice.

As the great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, when he was told some of his street photography shots were "lucky" shots: there is no such thing as luck. Everything is a choice, N people with cameras may have been there at that moment, but maybe only one chose to take a shot and chose how to take that shot. 

He may have had the desire later to "perfect" it, i.e. eliminate some unfortunate framing or detail that happened in the spur of the moment. He may not have had that possibility back then. 

If he had the ability to crop or tweak the shot, then it would have been purely his artistic decision to make use of it and in certain ways - technology would not have 'made' him tweak the shot.

Eno mentions Bob Dylan going back to bare bone recording methods for his album Shadows in the Night.

Dylan said that “I could only record these songs one way, and that was live on the floor with a very small number of mics. No headphones, no overdubs, no vocal booth, no separate tracking…The engineer had his own equipment, left over from bygone days, and he brought all that in… There was no mixing. That’s just the way it sounded… We used as little technology as possible.”

Yes, the finality of recording without any editing possibility commands or at least demands respect. We appreciate the acrobats without safety nets more - but this is not only about the existence or absence of a safety net for the recording artist.

Here Eno is again blurring some boundaries... as he is mixing tool with the use of the tool, without even distinguishing between purely mechanical (or procedural) efforts and the actual creative efforts.

In the early days of wax cylinder recordings and later direct recordings onto gramophone master disc, the recording process offered absolutely zero editing or correcting possibilities. One threw away the take or not, that was pretty much the only choice one had. 

The fact, that technology allows endless corrections and tweaking does not mean it is technology's fault that some may over-use these. 

Ansel Adams has laboured for days in his dark room to achieve his superb prints, but he was using eminently analogue gear - and the shot on the negative was "it", often impossible to reproduce again. Same goes for his end results, some of his prints are unique, full stop. 

This, though, while it should not be fetishised for obvious reasons, is not an example of how "bad" endless tweaking offered by modern technology is in itself. 

“So the question that everybody’s asking is, is it getting any better as a result of all this?"

As obvious as it may sound, "better" depends on the end objective and the artistic intent. A monstrous bum note will not be left in, when it is a recording for a film soundtrack - just to consider one trivial example. However, if this is a recording of a jam in studio or at an event, with a number of great performers, then clearly a good choice would be to leave it as it is, for authenticity. 

How can this be even asked and have a subtext of questioning the actual technological possibilities, without even having a balanced set of use case examples? 

"But it’s such a hard temptation to resist. You’re recording a song and find a note that is really quite out of tune. In the past, you’d have said, it’s a great performance, so we’ll just live with it. What you do now is retune that note. So you’re always asking yourself, have we lost something of the tension of the performance, of the feeling of humanity and vulnerability and organic truth or whatever, by making these corrections? It does make you question the role of new technology in the studio. "

Again, as absolutely basic and simple it sounds (and it really is...), it is an artistic and technical choice: do we leave the performance untouched or - because now we can - we correct it?

The temptation being hard to resist, well, this point really puts the matter squarely in the lap of the artist (assuming he/she has a say).  If the artist is not making that decision, that is a problem with the management chain and not the technology.

Is "it" getting any better if we do tweak it for days or months? Well, it simply depends on the central aesthetics and the end goal set by the musician(s) and engineer(s). 

To do something just because we can is certainly a technological and artistic path that can backfire or make things totally sterile and overworked. 

But to say that this is somehow the technology's fault, it is absolutely remarkable - especially coming from someone of this stature. 

As he reminisces over the heroic years with very limited technology and editing possibilities, Eno does make the valid point that many who buy endless heaps of synthesizers and studio equipment can take heed of. 

“It’s partly to do with engineers working with very limited resources and really understanding them well. If you’ve only got two mics, one compressor and a couple of pre-amps, you really know what they do, because you’re using them every single day. It’s like an artist who is extremely good with water colours. Water colour is a very limited medium but you can become incredibly good with it if that is all you have. "

Indeed, in electronic music, as in any recorded music and in photography, too, the advent of 'modern' technology makes us quite pampered by having virtually infinite choices of instruments and recording equipment. 

One does admire the sheer effort that went into an artwork or music recording, but going back to the Ansel Adams example: the reduction of effort spent on the non-creative mechanics of a creative workflow is, in itself, not a negative - but a net a positive. 

If one can achieve in the studio in minutes or hours what used to take days in the 'heroic' era, then one is gaining more immediacy, more and not less creative possibilities by not spending so much time and effort on the... mechanics. 

If Ansel Adams could use a burning and dodging brush in Photoshop, instead of paper cutouts and numerous segments to balance selectively the exposure on regions of his prints, would his prints worth less?

Some might say yes, but they are factoring in some assumptions about the process, and attributing certain subjective value to certain stages of that process - instead of considering the end result and the creative intent.

This interview article is a super condensed example of where these philosophical-sounding discussions go wrong.

Fetishising, or worse, fearing, certain workflow and certain tools, because they could be mis-used or exaggeratedly used, is not only often puerile, but fundamentally places tools above their users in elaborate attempts to make, by definition, flawed generalisations. 

There have been, and there are, numerous staggeringly innovative and deservedly illustrious artists who concentrate on their creative process, optimise their workflow and embrace all technology.

They do this because they, consciously or not, refuse to waste their time and efforts on logically void musings on how more numerous and more complex tools could be misused by somebody... to then label the tools themselves as "dangerously" making us "lose" some je-ne-sais-quois in the artistic end result.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Early Muse - a free set of Korg Kronos patches of Medieval instruments

Time travel occasionally takes less of a challenge than those described in ample volumes of sci-fi literature and theoretical physics...

Based on a number of samples of Medieval instruments encountered over the years, 24 free programs for Korg Kronos workstation have been created, in a program bank called Early Muse.

The sounds are those of wind, string and percussion instruments used in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period - and whilst some are rare, others are still in use today.

The embedded video runs through the 24 programs, which mostly use just room reverb for a natural sound - except some that show what happens when the Kronos effects engine is thrown at the ancient instrument sounds and projects them into the future...

The information on YouTube also contains the Dropbox link to download the sample and program files that are understood by Korg Kronos. It should work on all Kronos versions, and the list of programs is below.

Programs with SW1 control will shorten the release, like a damping effect - if damper pedal available, can map the control accordingly.

  • Hackbrett SW1        
  • Lion Harp SW1        
  • Cimbalon             
  • Psalter SW1          
  • Psalter2 SW1         
  • Kanun SW1            
  • Kanun2 SW1  - the double instrument         
  • Nyckelharpa          
  • Nyckelharpa Symp     (just the sympathetic strings)
  • Lute                 
  • Strings Trio SW1     
  • Dudy                 
  • Gralla               
  • Kortholt             
  • Garklein             
  • Wind Trio            
  • Riq C4-B4   - this and below tuned in D, note ranges listed for the different hits
  • Bendir E4-B4         
  • Tar E4-B4            
  • Syrien E4-B4         
  • Nyckelharpa Layers  - strings and sympathetic strings together with long release
  • Nyckelharpa Space    - using a vast O-Verb effect
  • Garklein Mystery JSY+  - delay and chorus for an outer space feel, JSY+ changes chorus amount
  • Gralla Mystery JSY+  

The demo has a few accidental notes, as one loses the will to live making the video going through all of the programs :)...

Enjoy the time travel, what better tool for it than Kronos, the God of Time ... 

A very useful tutorial on loading, if needed, individual programs can be seen here:

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

From ancient Persia to cosmic Tangerine Dream: Schiller's Morgenstund

With all its expanse and range of moods, it is impossible to start an overview of this new multi-disc release from Schiller without emphasising some highly notable collaborations on the album.

Schiller fans are by now quite accustomed to stellar names appearing on liner notes, from world music to classical music, opera to electronica. Speaking of the latter, just over a decade ago one was treated to a Schiller - Klaus Schulze collaborative effort on the Sehnsucht (i.e. Desire) album, on a lengthy and animated track called Zenit.

Spring 2019 arrived with another very special collaboration between Christopher Von Deylen a.k.a. Schiller and another legend of electronic music: Tangerine Dream.

On the new album's first and second disc we have tracks that can take the listener from contemplative moods to head-bobbing and/or energetic dance movements, and some incursions into world music are particularly notable.

Pouya Saraei
Ethnic elements are combined with quintessentially Schiller electronica, good examples of animating rhythms, catchy, often soaring melodic phrases and world music infusions are Das goldene Tor or Aphrodite.

However, the perhaps superlative moment for such world music and electronica blends is the track entitled Berlin to Tehran. 

Here Santur, the ancient Persian hammered dulcimer of stunning sonic personality in Pouya Saraei's hands, is having a splendid conversation with Schiller's electronics. Ancient and modern indeed can have a dialogue, and they manage to augment each other to make a very stand-out track on this first part of the Morgenstund album.

Now Tangerine Dream fans have been rather spoiled recently by stellar live performances and album releases, always treating audiences to the by now firmly established tradition: a "session", i.e. a lengthy live composition at the end of the concerts. This collaboration, on Schiller's Morgenstund album, presents fans with an entire suite composed and performed by Schiller and Thorsten Quaeschning.

The Morgenstern composition, split into nine parts, has a perfect "session" feel.

The electronic trip starts off with spacey and lush chords, establishing a serene mood - but as soon as the characteristic Mellotron-esque flute presents its delicate melodic ornaments on the spacey electronic layers of sound, Tangerine Dream fans undoubtedly have an 'Aha!' moment...

As one may gather from Schiller's spacey Einlassmusik series of compositions, and absolutely from entire Tangerine Dream discography, this electronic dialogue is guaranteed to have a smooth and structured build-up.

Indeed, the characteristic TD feel develops further from Morgenstern Part II onwards. Whilst there are catchy and gentle melodies one recognises from Schiller compositions, too, the sequencers building up by Part III into a firmly established and highly characteristic Tangerine Dream sound land the listener in a superbly captivating electronic voyage.

By the time one gets to Part V, the music is unmistakeable TD, with rich pads and recurring melodic ornaments waving in and out of the conversation between the two electronic artists.

Thorsten Quaeschning (photo: Wiki)
Whilst sequencers virtually take control here, with firm and percussive patterns, too, there is always something changing - so the listeners' attention is guaranteed to be grabbed.

Part VI pulls back  the forces unleashed in the previous section, with a calm interlude - and then sequencers return for another captivating conversation. Their intricate patterns become a structure that underpins the melodic lead lines and lush pads that hover in the room where Morgenstern plays...

The organic feel of the composition is augmented further by the fact that Part VII and VIII's lead melodies feel like a calm improvisation, floating above the spacey atmospherics and pulsating sequencers, thus everything stays fluid. There really is nothing mechanical about this electronic collaboration.

The final segment of the composition lets all electronic and human motion settle, gradually reducing the mighty structures to just a few pulsing notes in the end.

The collaboration can be quite easily labelled as a very successful one, whereby individual characteristics can be identified by both Schiller and TD fans - and the resulting blend is able to produce something new, well-structured, executed with patient and good dosage of energy.

Therefore the whole composition feels fluid, ever-changing, with a serene start and finish that makes the journey a very well-rounded one.

The next disc on Morgenstund is the ten-part Wanderlust composition that, in longer listening sessions, can continue the journey with a more ambiental, atmospheric adventure in vast electronic spaces.

Quite a demonstration of versatility, if one considers the range of tracks on the album - attention to detail is omnipresent, and as one could hear often in the Schiller discography, Morgenstund, too provides many chances for incursions into Eastern music elements.

If one wants a highly melodic and rhythmic entertaining time, the parts leading up to Morgenstern are a good vehicle... but for a thoroughly introspective and captivating journey, tune in to the Tangerine Dream collaboration's exquisite nine segments, then finish off with the Wanderlust suite...

Schiller (photo: Financial Tribune)

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Tangerine Dream live at Barbican Hall: yet another landmark of electronic evolution

More than half of a century of electronic music came to Barbican Hall last night...

The London venue is renowned for a very varied calendar, in the sense that it makes a self-conscious effort to select the very best of classical and contemporary music.

On the stage where historic performances of ancient to futuristic music could be seen and heard over the years, by legends ranging from Ravi Shankar to Philip Glass, now Tangerine Dream took the sold out Hall into another Universe...

It was an important live performance for numerous reasons, not "just" another live appearance of an electronic music legend. So below impressions are not a perhaps usual run-down of the tracks and moments the audience could enjoy last night...

Firstly, we are now at a point that is more than fifty years after the band was formed - and we could see and hear them turn into luminaries of what became known as the Berlin School of electronic music. However, as difficult it may be for some to believe this, this is as far from a nostalgia act as certain quasars at the periphery of our known Universe are from our planet...

Sure, the audience always welcomes the legendary classics, and Barbican Hall audience was no exception. One could hear and enjoy parts of SorcererStratosfear, Poland Live, White Eagle, and as a theatrical master strike, second part of Ricochet, among other classics... but each and every composition was given new life and new energy by the current Tangerine Dream line-up.

Some commented within minutes of the end of the concert, that some renditions of compositions like the one from the Stratosfear album were probably the versions to remember. Let's not forget, this is an album from the mid-1970s, performed by a new line-up in 2019, which sadly has lost the founding member and luminary Edgar Froese few years ago...

The fact that new live versions of such classics can be considered by hardcore fans not only full of new life energy, but also somehow 'definitive' versions, is a huge achievement.

Second important point about the Barbican concert is that in a landscape filled with electronic acts that are focused on a more stereotypical type of electronica, Tangerine Dream still, in 2019, represents a unique island.

Why? Well, this is not electronic music where technology is allowed, or happens, to take over. This is not electronic music that is focused on its functional role.

In other words, as strange as it may sound, unlike EDM or ambient acts focused on functional role of music (i.e. to make us dance or to relax us, respectively), Tangerine Dream is closer to the ancient Greek's views on music. This is music that wants and succeeds to be a reflection of the wider Universe, wants to make us feel a sense of cosmic wonder and to take us out of our everyday reality. Pythagoras, whilst working on his musical theories, would have been happy to hear this performance :)...

In this sense, Tangerine Dream, with a set list spanning half of a century of electronic music, have demonstrated yet again that they are still very attached to the central ethos of the very first experimental years of the band: this is, as new age-ish it may sound nowadays after too much aimless over-use of some terms, cosmic music.

Using today's consecrated EM terms and genre labels, it would be quite a challenge to many EM fans to try to squeeze what Tangerine Dream still creates and performs into one of those increasingly narrowing categories.

Technology is "merely" an instrument here, and we could again see and hear musicians jamming and improvising together on stage. Electronic music? No, not in the way many would understand that word pairing.

Thirdly, it is no accident and no empty semantics in the title under which the performance ran: Quantum Of Electronic Evolution - emphasis on evolution.

All the old and new tracks that were performed have demonstrated eloquently: Tangerine Dream has not been, and still refuses to be, a static band. We can enlist the line-up changes, sure, but also more importantly the many changes in (often highly risky) directions. We can consider the still fiery live performances that every time surprise us with something new, which does not destroy the central intent of the original composition that can date back several decades even. Last night's performance was eminent proof of that.

Technology and people have changed vastly over the increasingly many years, but one could challenge even specialists to come up with a solid number of electronic acts that have not stopped evolving since the late 1960s.

The Barbican Hall performance was at the same time, and as paradoxical as it may sound, sublime and Earth-shattering live night exactly because of this evolution.

We can come up with many names that have spent many years performing the same golden gems over and over again, with a few cosmetic or technological twists here and there. This was emphatically not a concert of that kind...

What may be the ultimate open secret of Tangerine Dream is exactly their attitude to technology.

The reason why current line-up of Tangerine Dream can spend almost three hours surprising, enthralling, and animating the audience is because they are firstly musicians, and only secondly tech wizards.

The vast powers tamed or unleashed by them are serving the musical purpose - let's think of the ethereal improvised sections in the by now traditional live composition that closed the performance, with sublime violin seamlessly blending with electronics.

Let's think of the same sensitive violin, then the achingly beautiful and delicate Mellotron flutes and strings of yesteryear, joining forces with sequencers that could make the building shake.

Let's think of multi-layered and uniquely Tangerine Dream musical lines and curves that build up into compositions where the brain simply, and joyously, gives up trying to follow and analyse what is going on. The renditions of parts of the latest studio album, Quantum Gate, or the classics from Poland and Stratosfear, can be enumerated here.

If Tangerine Dream fans ever needed it, the Barbican Hall performance is once again reassuring them: this band does not stop evolving... 

Paul Frick, very notably, joined the Thorsten Quaeschning, Hoshiko Yamane and Ulrich Schnauss trio in the second part of the concert... and as a theatrical master strike, he surprised us with the legendary piano intro to Ricochet Part II, which still remains a master class in live electronics.

As a fan, a huge thanks to the band for making more than fifty years of electronic music sound utterly contemporary, relevant, meaningful and, above all, moving!

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Horses for courses... and dogmas for decorum

The British expression "horses for courses" originated from the world of horse racing, and it means that different things are best suited for... different things, as certain horses were better suited for certain types of races.

Despite a horse racing parallel, this post would take a leap into the field of sound synthesis methods (and the hype around them) - hence the reason for the expression might become apparent shortly.

So... this post was triggered by a recurring question seen on forums: why doesn't somebody make an analogue FM synth (in specific context, meaning multi-operator complex FM synths)?

Another trigger was  a "demonstration" of "wavetable synthesis" done some time ago with 2 analogue waveforms, triumphantly stating that this is proof that it can be done via analogue means.

This is the point where, in some minds, the analogue synthesis methods move from a solid technological sphere into a realm of fetishes. It is also a perfect example for the case when the astute 'horses for courses' principle is clearly being violated.

Yes, analogue synthesizers have superb capabilities and a distinct personality - unique even, in some cases.

Vast research and development efforts have been spent by companies of all sizes in attempts to perfectly imitate the "analogue sound". Their imperfections and instabilities are one of the, if not the, most crucial features that give them their unique sound. Emulating these imperfections via digital means only seems simple, but actually it is a fiendishly difficult and complex task.

Yamaha DX7
However, if one sees analogue synthesis, due to all its merits and stemming also from undoubtedly hyped discourses on quite ill-informed forums, as "the" method to apply to everything, then one commits a fundamental technical and conceptual error.

This leads to proposals like the mentioned case of making a multi-operator FM synth to "beat" the digital beasts dating all the way back to the era-defining DX7.

It can be imagined, and to an extent, even created in a lab - yes, technology certainly allows it. However, it would be eminently pointless and a supreme waste of effort, if one considers the fact that the mentioned instrument needs to leave the lab and is to be used as an... instrument.

Reasons? Well, tiny changes to the so-called FM operators' parameters can cause vast changes to the sound. What is a mere case of oscillator drifting out of tune in case of substractive analog synths, in FM case this often brings radical changes to what we hear. Reasons are buried in FM synthesis theory, but they are far from obscure reasons.

In simplest case, we can imagine these operators as oscillators with simple waveforms, but later generations of FM synths do vastly more than that. Changing their frequencies can radically alter the resulting spectrum, as one operator modulates other(s) and even has feedback - and if their frequency  drifts, the resulting spectral components shift around - hence fundamentally affect the tones we hear. Not to mention the controls to these operators, which have to have well-synchronised envelopes and precise amounts usually.

Also, in this hypothetical example, even if we assume the analogue multi-operator FM concoction is stable and perfectly controllable (it would be neither), the musician would want to recreate later the FM patch he or she arrived at. This can only be imagined with copious help from digital technology and digital to analogue converters - similar to how early analogue synths acquired patch memory.

However, even in this case (and obviously we already have digital creeping in, albeit not strictly in the sound synthesis part itself), the resulting complexity is, simply put, a mind-blowing mess.

Even in the case of digital FM synths, the constant and justified polemic is centred on the difficulty to program them, and the need for very intuitive and stable interfaces in often outboard software, so that one can cope with even thousands of parameters at play. A supreme and to this day not equalled FM monster like the Yamaha FS1R died as a product shortly after its release, and this was not due to its astonishing (!) sonic capabilities, but its user interface.

Similarly, what was once triumphantly demonstrated in a Facebook synth group as "wavetable synthesis", as an analogue concoction managed to morph the output signal from one simple waveform to another, was something that still firmly resides in a hobby lab.

PPG Wave
Also, it simply just wasn't wavetable synthesis, full stop, in the Wolfgang Palm sense (which led to the revolutionary PPG Wave and its successors, like the current Waldorf Blofeld).

It just isn't wavetable synthesis, by definition... as latter needs perfectly stable and precisely "sliced" waveform parts stored in precise manner in a table, and then precise sweeps that index in this table in perfectly controlled and even modulated manner.

Also, those waveforms are eminently digital, because the wavetables store samples of these waveforms... and then a synth based on this method is scanning those tables. By definition, one cannot have analog waveform slices kept in a static table of values... only digital samples of those waveforms...

The resulting revolutionary sounds' spectral content simply cannot be achieved by a few analogue waveforms morphing into each other. Latter experiment posted on Facebook some time ago was similar to a demonstration of a slow and careful forward parking manoeuvre in a Trabant and then stating "tada, it is perfectly capable of doing all that a Bugatti Veyron can do!".

As a person who spent half a lifetime in signal processing technologies, it is, admittedly, a deplorable sight to see such waste of time, effort, and enthusiasm channeled in completely misguided directions and utter dead ends.

Personal note aside, where above two characteristic examples spectacularly fail is the factual misconception that a certain technology is THE answer for everything in sound synthesis.

The hype and downright fetishisation of analogue synths have a big role to play in the birth of such misconceptions.

Analogue synths are absolutely fantastic in... analogue synthesis, which usually means substractive or additive synthesis whereby oscillator waveforms are taken away from (via filters) or added to (by wave shaping or modulation effects that add harmonics).

Korg Kronos MOD7 top level view
Multi-operator and hybrid FM synthesis engines (e.g. FMX by Yamaha or MOD7 by Korg), wavetable synths (like PPG Wave or Waldorf Blofeld, etc.), granular synths (Waldorf Quantum and countless plugins are capable of this among many other things), the vast array of mighty samplers and so-called romplers (list would be simply huge), plus numerous eminently digital signal bending tricks (think wave sequencing and waveshaping from Korg), constitute vast and complex worlds - often very unique worlds.

Then we have the hybrid synths... Even the aforementioned PPG Wave was actually a hybrid,  since it had famous analogue filters after the digital signal chain. These synths can create phenomenal possibilities. The Korg Prologue flagship analogue synth with a digital add-on engine even lets the user write his/her own oscillators and effect engines, with any algorithm one can think of (that fits in the multi-engine's memory). The Roland JD-Xa can layer and combine complex sounds from both digital and analogue synth engines under its bonnet.

These all add to our sound synthesis and processing capabilities entire new and vast universes of sounds, which are simply impossible to create via analogue synths.

Excluding them in some absolutist hype is a classic and misguided dogmatic approach, and we can encounter it in many forums about electronic music and sound synthesis.

However, trying to replace some horses with others that are eminently unsuitable for, and factually incapable of running, certain courses is a futile at worst, tragicomic at best, attempt.

Conceptually, apart from signal processing theory and technology, where this exercise goes wrong from the start is the failure to see appropriate horses as mere devices to get us, via appropriate courses, to the finish line. Dogmas are not left for the decorum or the viewing area to talk about over a beer, they actually make their way onto the race track...

Analogue, as splendid and as hyped it may be, is not the answer to everything that recent decades of music technology produced. As shockingly obvious it may be to many, each approach has its strengths and weaknesses - and some horses are simply not suited, not even designed, to run certain courses.

Nobody attempted, certainly nobody succeeded, to create cobalt blue, cadmium yellow or ultramarine paints from plant-based pigments just to score some dogmatic point in the art of painting. Well, maybe some have tried, especially when e.g. certain minerals ran into some trade difficulties as it happened in the case of ultramarine, but the results are not exactly surrounding us in galleries... Artists used different paints with different characteristics for different tasks, and with a good reason...

The huge problem is when hype crosses a certain boundary, and makes certain words magical. Not
Waldorf Quantum display
only can hype achieve that, but also it can then make one forget that all, absolutely all, of our electronic instruments are... instruments. Nothing more.

If we forget that, then we can ask questions like one seen recently on a forum: why doesn't a certain major manufacturer see sense and "finally" create an analogue workstation.

Why the question was phenomenal nonsense, well, one can leave that to the reader (small hint, synth workstation product category definition with a feature list)... However, the fact that such conflating of methods, instruments, and categories is even possible, it is a testament to the power of synth hype.

It is a free world, and everybody is entitled to their prejudices, misconceptions, and beliefs - but this particular area is one in which those are at the same time creatively, artistically, and technologically self-defeating...  If hard to swallow, challenge is to name one single groundbreaking creative electronic artist who artificially excludes majority of sound synthesis methods from his or her arsenal, instead of looking at a range of tools to achieve his or her creative aim.