Saw this strange device in Trondheim today, it’s apparently the only one in the world! Invented by local inventor/mad scientist, it pulls the tired and weary Trondheim cyclist up a particularly wicked incline.
My brother recently forwarded me the picture above, the mighty Casio MT-70, also my first keyboard. I had actually forgotten I ever owned this plastic wonder so it prompted me to take stock of the gear I’ve used over the years. I still have a keyboard but it gets little attention these days, so much else going on. It waits patiently for my return. Anyway on to the list:
Casio MT-70: tiny keys, limited polyphony, and cheesy sounds. But it was still pretty amazing. Drum beats and comp, real ompa band. And a limited monophonic sequencer, with lights above the keys telling you where to play. It even had a barcode reader and a booklet of songs that could be “scanned” in, teaching music and preparing for a career in retail all at the same time! Ca 1985, cost unknown, not sure what happened to it!
Roland Alpha Juno 1: bought this from a kid in school, my very first programmable synthesizer. A real bend knob for those cool leads. Real size keys but plastic feel, no touch-sensitivity. Cool input wheel though, useful for tweaking the envelopes and filters but with a 16-line display still a chore. Had a special audio jack in the back that could be used to store preset data on a regular casette deck. 1987, 4000kr, traded for D-10.
Roland D-10: bought this at now-defunct Flatøy Musikk in Bergen, a favorite after-school hang-out for many years. When they got the first D-50’s there was a huge buzz surrounding the synth/sample technology, and the D-50 did sound awesome. Unfortunately it was way out of my price range so I settled for the “little brother” D-10 which arrived a year later. The sound was still good although a bit thinner, but it made up for it by having drums and being multi-timbral: it could play up to 8 different instruments when used with a sequencer. Or you could play the internal demo songs which I must have done a million times. 1988, 9000kr, sold in 2017 for 500kr.
Yamaha TG-33, Ensoniq SQ-R: once I started using a sequencer on my trusty Amiga the need for more/new sounds was inevitable. Unlike today when the smallest iMac ships with GarageBand and a gazillion samples, in the old days you had to buy new hardware. The TG was a cheapo version of the Korg Wavestation which was the hot thing at that time, the concept was to “morph” your 4 soundgenerators with a joystick, either in realtime or as a part of the finished sound. It was good for synth-type sounds that pulsated or blended in and out over time. Otherwise the 12-bit samples were pretty cruddy for real-world sounds. The SQ-R however was a very clean sounding module with mostly sample playback, which made for great piano, guitar, etc. 1991-92, $500,$800, handed down to Elaine.
Roland XP-60: this one was kind of an impulse buy, I was looking for an upgrade to the D-10, and also something with a built-in sequencer to simplify recording. I had spent some days playing with a friends Korg M1 and enjoyed the ease of creating music without the computer. But the M1 was getting old at that time and the massive built-in sound library of the XP was a big draw. Unfortunately the XP sequencer is not made to be used by humans, it is cryptic and a pain. So I continued with the computer. It’s still a nice keyboard, good keys with after-touch sensitivity, a massive display, 6 sliders for real-time tweaking of sound parameters, which combined with the arpeggiator makes for loads of fun. 1997, $1200, still playing.
Alesis QS-8: big, heavy monster of a keyboard, 88-keys fully weighted, great piano and organ sounds. Bought it primarily to play with the department band, it also had a lot of good synthy sounds. It was a good looking keyboard, with polished wood ends. 1998, $1400, sold on eBay.
This series of short films by Isabella Rosselini explore the mating habits of sea creatures. The surreal visual style fits well with the unusual ways life begins on the bottom of the sea.