Oh man. Eno playing an EMS VCS3.
That synthesizer single handedly steered me away from music education and into composition and performance. My alma mater has (had?) one in their music studio and, as the only student at the college who had any interest in taking Intro to Electronic Music, I was given free reign to play with it and all the other great vintage gear in the studio (tape machines, Yamaha DX7 IIFD, some primitive orchestral sampler MIDI box… all kinds of great inspiring stuff). All that gear, combined with the realization that I just didn’t feel comfortable standing in front of a classroom full of kids, led me to give up on music education (though I still earned the degree).
I would spend, quite literally, all night locked alone in that studio playing with the VCS3. That joystick was badass and the routing matrix was a much better solution to patching than the cables typical of other modular synths, and the Ring Modulator was brilliant.
I still miss cranking the volume up, manually syncing those three oscillators, patching them into the filter, and slowly sweeping through its frequency range. I swear the whole music building would vibrate.
That tactile control of synthesis - the feeling of the knobs and dials and switches in your fingers - is something I’ll never forget. Just looking at this gif I can still remember how smoothly those 30 year old pots turned, with just the right amount of pressure and resistance so that you actually had to put some effort into the action. Goddamn. I need to contact them and see if they still own it.
Here are a few seconds of my Pro~One in action.
This thing is so awesome.
I’m breaking out the big guns tonight. (Taken with Instagram at Rochester, NY)
In general this performance is just average, but the keyboard solo that kicks in at the 3:14 mark totally makes it worth it. Skip to there if you’re looking for some gooey analog synthesizer goodness.
Holy crap. HOLY CRAP!
Guess what just jumped to the top of my WANT list?
I spent hundreds of precious hours absolutely molesting the VCS3 we had in our electronic music studio in college. Those were some of the most inspiring moments of my life. What an amazing tool.
I want to quit my life and spend all day every day doing this.
I’ll sell my house and move into a trailer. One end will have a bed. The other end will have a modular like this.
good for bass
My Pro~One is among my most prized possessions, and probably one of the best investments I’ve ever made (bought it, in perfect condition, for under $300 in 12/1999 with the last dollars in my bank account).
The Pro-One is an analog synth from maybe 1980 or so. If anyone knows how to fix a non-functional retrig switch, come by sometime. Bring beer.
A few thoughts:
- I hate you for showing me this because now I really want to open up my Pro~One to investigate and see if mine has the same awesome markings.
- Thank you for showing me this! As if this synth wasn’t cool enough…
- The pics on that dude’s blog of his recondition/repair may have given me a boner.
- I can’t really help with your faulty retrig switch. I assume you’ve already given it a shot of DeoxIT D5… that’s the extent of my synth repair knowledge.
- I also assume you know of Wine Country and the Sequential services they provide… you can get an official Pro~One technical service manual for only $25 from here.
- You’re welcome to come over my house and play with my Pro~One anytime. But keep your hands off the synth.
Excuse me everyone. Imma need a moment.
Phlip Glass rocking the Prophet~5
This is one of my favorite pictures ever. I wish I knew who to give credit to - I’ve been transferring it from floppy disc to zip disk to CD to hard drive to flash drive for the past 10 years.
This is a picture of a man who is as deep into the zone as you will ever see. The mental stamina and technical skill involved with performing his music is unmatched. He is the greatest living American composer - though if you ask me next week, I’ll tell you it’s Steve Reich - either way, this picture perfectly captures the essence of Glass at his prime.