[sdiy] Understanding 80s Synth Architectures

David G Dixon dixon at mail.ubc.ca
Sun Feb 6 23:20:58 CET 2022

This is a tad bit off topic, but lastnight I watched a YouTube video of
Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe performing Close to the Edge live.  This
must have been in 1989.  Wakeman played all of the iconic synthesizer parts
on some 80s digital synth, probably a workstation of some kind.

You could almost hear the binary digits straining to sound cool, trying to
be a sound that had originally come from a Minimoog, and FAILING UTTERLY.
Digital keyboards destroyed Rick Wakeman's style.  Nothing he played on them
ever sounded even 50% as cool as what he played in '71, '72, or '73 on a
Minimoog or a Mellotron or a Hammond.  And what he chose to play on them was
almost always pretty uninspired, probably because it was difficult to play
inspired things using uninspiring sounds.

Video may have killed the radio star, but digital killed the keyboard


-----Original Message-----
From: Synth-diy [mailto:synth-diy-bounces at synth-diy.org] On Behalf Of Rainer
Sent: Saturday, February 05, 2022 4:35 PM
To: rburnett at richieburnett.co.uk
Cc: Synth-Diy mailing list
Subject: Re: [sdiy] Understanding 80s Synth Architectures

[CAUTION: Non-UBC Email]

On Sat, 5 Feb 2022, rburnett at richieburnett.co.uk wrote:

> Do you think the original code was written in assembly, or compiled 
> from a higher level language like C?

In the early 1980s? Assembly language.

If you want to see the quality of mid-1980s C compilers, check out the Casio
FZ1 OS. There, even ENTER 0x0,0x0 / LEAVE were left in -- illustrating the
back-then mantra "if it needs to be performant, do it in assembly".

And that's the easiest to tackle optimization ...


Synth-diy mailing list
Synth-diy at synth-diy.org
Selling or trading? Use marketplace at synth-diy.org

More information about the Synth-diy mailing list