Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A conversation with an old friend

I'm not sure what specifically inspired this, but I have been thinking a lot about my old friend, the Yamaha FB-01 synth module. I picked up this MIDI controlled FM synth box back in 1995 for $100, and it was one of the best purchases I have made. You can now find these regularly on E-Bay for around $50.  Over the years, the FB-01 has found its way on to most of my releases, and even survived my apartment/studio robbery in 1999. I guess it just didn't look impressive enough to steal. If you are not familiar with this box, it uses the same 4 operator FM synthesis as the DX-100 and TX81Z. The only problem is that you can not edit any patches without an external editor. For years I never really cared, I just used the factory presets (RubBass was my fave!) with maybe some external filtering or effects. I have used the presets in this box for kick drums, basses, pads and various FX over the years. Recently, I found a decent, free editor for PC's that works pretty well. You can check the editor out at:

With the background out of the way, I can get to the point. I like to make music, and have been in a musically creative rut for a while. Sometimes I think that limiting your tools can help inspire creativity, so I gave myself a challenge: to create a track using nothing but unaltered sounds from the FB-01. You can check out this little house tune in the video below, and see for yourself what one of these machines can do. All but one of the sounds used in the video are factory presets, as I haven't had the time to create a bunch of new patches yet. I only used sounds recorded in mono from the FB-01 into Pro Tools. I have not applied any additional effects, only adjusted levels and panning.

Patches Used:
-Custom patch based on modified Harp

I still think it sounds pretty good for a cheap synth module from 25 years ago, that is still widely overlooked. It has been nice to catch up with my old friend, and I'm pretty sure we'll be working together more soon!

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