Too Strange to live, Too Rare to Die

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My unfortunately mortal beloved

Today, as I was working with my Korg Prophecy SSP-1 Synthesizer and news was breaking of the Behringer TD-3, it dawned on me that there is a wonderful class of musical instruments from the mid 1990’s to early 2000’s that can’t ever be replicated.  Instruments like the Prophecy and Korg Z1, the Yamaha AN1x and Roland JP8000.  Instruments that, while they modeled analog instruments, the fact they were made by custom software running on custom chips that are covered under so many layers of intellectual property and trade secrets that *no one* exept their design teams know exaclty how they work.  What this means is that, while someone *could* in theory replicate, it would be a hell of an effort.  Significantly more than the efforts driving the analog re-revolution we’re currently living through.

This is a damn shame.  Some of these instruments are simply amazing.  I still have my Prophecy, bought around 1996 or so.   Though monophonic, there are few synthesizers today that come up to its specifications as a synthesizer voice.  3 oscillators, each capable of running different models, with 4 LFO’s and 6 Envelope generators…mix and modulation that would make a modest eurorack system blush… it is still an amazing instrument, one I still go back to now and again 25 years after it’s original development.

And it’s not alone.  The Korg Z1 is even better, having 12 voice polyphony and a digital output option  (If you have that, you’re truly blessed).  It was a fantastic instrument of it’s time, and so far ahead of what others were doing.  At some point, I’m going to need to track one down again (a huge power surge in 2005 killed my last one).

Korg, of course, wasn’t the only one putting out these instruments.   There was an absolute explosion of them.  Every  NAMM show, it seemed like another new company was getting into the game with something amazing.  Novation had the Supernova and its derivatives,  Roland put out the JP8000 and later V-Synths.  And, of course, there was and still is the Access Virus.

In time, all of these instruments will be permenantly lost.

I’m going to go play my Prophecy now.

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