I am currently borrowing a Roland Super Jupiter MKS-80 with the option to buy. This is the first time I have been able to experiment with one of these instruments. Unfortunately this one has some technical problems. First of all the tuning knob doesn’t work. The potentiometer looks fine and moves smoothly, but the pitch doesn’t change and it’s always about a quarter tone flat as if the tune knob was all the way to the left. Secondly, the unit does not respond to velocity. This might be due to a bad dynamics sensitivity slider, which is visibly bent. Finally the memory area switch is not working consistently. When set to the internal memory, the unit responds with the message “INSERT CARTRIDGE” when trying to change patches and no cartridge is available. Fortunately I have been able to intermittently coax it into patch changes with a MIDI controller. Other than being out of tune and not responding dynamically it sounds great. I have recorded lots of examples, unfortunately they are all out of key, so I can’t use them for anything official, but it’s giving me a good idea about what the instrument is capable of. I made this two part microtrack with a couple of presets already programmed into the MKS-80.
One thing that I think we don’t do enough is record amplified synthesis with microphones. I must admit to recording an unhealthy portion of my work direct. There’s a reason. It’s much easier. It’s clean. It’s fast. But some really great qualities can be achieved by going the extra mile. Some of my favorite sounds were made by plugging my Pro-One into my Leslie cabinet and using the motor speed for expression. During our cymatics tests last week I recorded some of the sounds made by the oscillators, and the agitated granules with my PCM-D50 and my mobile phone. Here’s a combination of those sounds layered into an ambient microtrack.
Getting these mustard seeds to scatter and converge in this cymatics test took tuning the cycle~ object in Max to around 73 Hertz. The spherical shape of this material lends itself well to this sort of experiment. The next time we attempt this we will be using a more controlled environment with a leveled, more sensitive membrane between the speaker and the seeds or grains.
Today’s synthesizer sound is contained within the video above and includes the acoustic sound of rice grains bouncing on a speaker cone. The tone was generated by the cycle~ object in MaxMSP and set to a frequency of somewhere around 156 Hertz.