Top 5 Greatest Samplers - Episode 3

GB In The Ring With The Fairlight Heavyweight      29/10/07

No flash plug

    MP4 11:41 mins

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Yes, it’s time for episode 3 of the Top 5 dig samplers show and one of the heavyweights from the World of sampling, the Fairlight CMI.

This episode features Fairlight frolics from Roger O’Donnell of the Thompson Twins (Doctor, Doctor? In the Name Of Love? You Take Me Up? Come on!).
And Peter Gabriel taking the scrapyard challenge in search of the perfect Fairlight sound effects for his eponymous fourth solo album (known as Security in the US, fact fiends).

There’s also another delve into the Art of Sampling featuring Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock, the Beastie Boys Licensed To Ill and the everso cute Casio SK1. And what with some cheeky comments from Professor Norris and more clips from the upcoming Top 20 Weirdest Instruments series (including Modified Toy Orchestra’s Brian O'Duffy talking about his Optophonic Lunaphone) it's a pretty packed show...So let's get on with it!

3.The Fairlight CMI Series

By the mid 1970’s, Australian Tony Furse had been working on the idea of digital synthesis for many years. His Quasar M8 project attempted to create sound by modelling the parameters of a waveform in realtime. This was a step too far for the technology of the day, but in 1976 he was approached by Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogel to help develop a microprocessor controlled synthesiser. Taking the Quasar M8, Ryrie and Vogel introduced the idea of using a naturally recorded soundwave as a starting point. The stunning results effectively introduced the concept of digital sampling.

Soon after, Ryrie and Vogel trading as Fairlight Instruments Pty Ltd. (the Fairlight name was borrowed from the Sydney Harbour Hydofoil!) began developing their series of computer musical instruments (CMI’s).

Series I was released in 1979 and featured a 73 note velocity sensitive keyboard, green-screen monitor with a light pen and keyboard interface. Its Lo-Fi sampling rate was quickly superceded by the Series II which had an improved spec of 8 bits at 2100 Hz to 30200 kHz (mono). The Series IIx introduced MIDI and the Series III dropped the light pen in favour of a graphics tablet interface attached to the keyboard and introduced a sampling spec of 16bit 44.1kHz.

The huge impact caused by the introduction of the Fairlight meant that New England Digital were forced to modified their Synclavier release, while E-Mu developed their own Emulator range of digital samplers (see episode one of the Top 5 Greatest Samplers).

The huge cost of producing the CMI Series meant that the company was forced to close in the mid 1980’s, by which time its reputation as innovators in the field of digital sampling had been assured.

We hope you enjoy the show, and we have to thank Peter Gabriel and the guys at Real World Studios for letting us film there during the summer. We’re so glad that Peter has been enjoying the series and a big ‘up’ to Richard Chappell for sourcing the everso rare footage for this episode.

By the way, check out the amazing Play DVD which features all of PG's solo videos in lush 5.1 as well as lots of rare interviews and footage from The Man himself. (Biko? I Don’t Remember? Sledgehammer? Come on!) See you in 2 weeks time for episode 4 of the Top 5 Greatest Samplers of all time…Ever!



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