Carbonisation brings us closer to God

or
Why Toast Tastes So Good

Without the light from the sun all life on earth would cease to exist. From this we can reasonably conclude that the sun is the source of all life.

Since God created all life we can further conclude that the sun is God, or at least an instrument of God. Many ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Aztecs and African tribes believed that the Sun was a God.

When things get burned they carbonise. This is what would happen if we moved closer to the sun i.e. closer to God. Fire, the artificial means of carbonisation created by man, replicates the effect of the sun, fooling the object into believing that it is moving closer to God.

This is why Toast Tastes So Good (yum!).

The bread is transformed from an ordinary food source into something that believes it is closer to heaven, which is reflected in its taste.

This is also why the ‘Body of Christ’ in Christian services is represented by a piece of toasted wafer.

Another example of carbonistion bringing us closer to God is the desire to obtain a tan which, like the toast, converts ordinary pale skin into something glowing and God like.

The book of common prayer based on text from Genesis 3:19 shows that in death, returning the body to dust through cremation can bring us back to God:

In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him and give him peace. Amen.

Peter Gabriel is the second coming

by Ken Hayes

Peter Gabriel is a long established rock musician who’s music has reached people all over the world. We can reveal here for the first time that Peter Gabriel is in fact the Messiah, and that he has left us a number of clues over the years that help to reveal his true identity. Let us examine the evidence:
•Peter shares his name with St. Peter and the angel Gabriel.
•He was a member of the band Genesis, the first book of the bible.
•He often uses religious themes, for example, the song The Blood of Eden; the Passion soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ and his CD-Rom Eden.
•Sinead O’Connor who appears on the song The Blood of Eden went from being a wild child to becoming a priest after befriending him.
Does she know something we don’t?

The greatest evidence we have is in the lyrics of his song Solsbury Hill where he describes how he met with God and how he revealed him that he was his son.

Let us examine the lyrics of the song:

He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing stretching every nerve
Had to listen had no choice
I did not believe the information
[I] just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom boom boom
‘Son’, he said ‘Grab your things,
I’ve come to take you home’.

He is describing how he was told by God who he really was and how he had to come to terms with his status.

Later in the song he sings:

To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut

He is saying that he has decided not to tell anyone about what he has learned in case he’s branded a lunatic. He also thinks about what new possibilities there are for him because he has miraculous abilities. He contemplates how his life has suddenly changed.

In the last verse he sings about how people are oblivious to his true identity and that at some point in time he will reveal his true self:

When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me

Peter clearly feels he had this role thrust upon him against his will. In an interview with Musician magazine in June 1989 he stated:

Christianity is poured deep in my consciousness, whether I choose to or not.

To finish though, If you believe that Peter is the Messiah and that rock’n’roll will save your soul, take heed, because he also gave this warning in the 1972 Genesis song Apocalypse in 9/8:

666 is no longer alone,
He’s getting out the marrow in your back bone,
And the seven trumpets blowing sweet rock and roll,
Gonna blow right down inside your soul.
Pythagorus with the looking glass reflects the full moon,
In blood, he’s writing the lyrics of a brand new tune.

The truth is finally known!

Barney seems innocent and sweet but in fact he is Satan.

It’s all very simple:
1. Start with the given: CUTE PURPLE DINOSAUR.
2. Change all U’s to V’s (which is proper Latin anyway):
CVTE PVRPLE DINOSAVR
3. Extract all Roman Numerals: C V V L D I V
4. Convert into Arabic values: 100 5 5 50 500 1 5
5. Add all the numbers: 666

Thus, Barney is Satan.

What is a madtheory anyway?

It is based on facts, events, people and places that exist or have existed. You, the inventive theorist, has subsequently drawn conclusions from the data available to formulate a theory, however absurd.

It can be about anything: historical events, unsolved mysterys, aliens, nature, religion, the origin of man, science, politics, murders, ghosts, the supernatural, conspiracys, the Titanic, the moon landing, corruption or Padraig Flynn, to name just a few.

•Did man actually step on the moon or was it all an elaborate hoax?

•Is Elvis really dead?

•Have we been visited by aliens?

•Is Sophie Ellis Bextor one of them???

Here, we gather evidence for some of the wildest theories out there: the bizarre to the hilarious; the strangely believable.

We present the evidence…
you decide if you believe it or not.

What is a Producer?

There is really no way to clearly define the “job spec” of a producer. For every skill you might deem necessary, there’s a successful producer who doesn’t have it. But there are a few qualities that producers have in common. A producer has to be good with people. He must be a leader, a motivator, a negotiator and a psychologist. He nurtures the artist to get their vision in focus and onto CD. A producer cannot produce without a vision. Sometimes this vision comes from the producer (or even from the marketing department of a TV production company) and the “artist” is just a figurehead. Most artists are too preoccupied with being artists to have the time or energy to figure out the technicalities of making a great record. This is where the producer comes in. He or she will not only be the bridge between the artistic and the technical, but also the administrative and financial. The record producer will decide how and where the record will be recorded, who, if anyone, will help to make it, what technical equipment will be used, how the budget will be spent, what material will go on the album, and how much the artist’s creative input will be supplemented. Sir George Martin says that a record producer is like a film producer and director rolled into one. On a less stellar level a good producer can earn his bed and breakfast just by good organisational and management skills. Practical organisation of the sessions can save thousands- offsetting part if not all of the producer’s advance and royalty. If producers didn’t pay for themselves many times over, no one would ever hire them1.

Perhaps at this point we should try to classify producer types, and give some examples of real life producers. I will use Richard-James Burgess’ categories2.

a) All Singing All Dancing King of the heap:
This type could easily be artists in their own right. They write the songs, play the instruments, sing the demos and engineer and program too. Their work is always recognisable even if the vocalist is unfamiliar. Their clients fall in to one of two categories- the all time great singers who don’t write but can deliver someone else’s song with conviction; or the puppets, such as soap stars or TV talent contest winners.
Examples-
“I like to do everything” : Walter Affanasief- Mariah Carey and Michael Bolton.
“If you can’t come in to the studio and sing a song the way it’s meant to be sung, then you don’t need to be working with me” :Teddy Riley- Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown.
In the nineteen eighties Stock, Aitken and Waterman were the “hit factory” production team that literally created music careers for Rick Astley, Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue. Pete Waterman later went on to invent the band Steps.

b) Humble Servant
This type is almost always credited as a co-producer. They started out as an engineer, programmer, musician or co-writer, and often connect with an artist early in their career. When the artist goes “mega”, they become indispensable. This type is not a good choice for an artist who doesn’t have a strong sense of vision and direction, but is perfect for the self directed artist who needs someone to bounce ideas off. They will take care of all the things the artist doesn’t want to deal with or doesn’t have the expertise for- the administrative, technical and engineering aspects of the production process. They will act as an unobtrusive extension of the artist, and are comfortable to work with. Often the relationship lasts for a long time, and can be very lucrative for both parties. Andy Jackson- “You can roll in to the next album and it’s like riding a bike. You pick it up where you left off and you haven’t got to reinvent the wheel”3.

Few would admit that they fall into this category, but Steve Albini is probably the most outspoken example of this type. He has written a lot on the internet about how badly the industry treats the artist. He believes that the producer should not be entitled to points because they are not the creators of the musical work, merely the facilitators. As far as he is concerned, the standard 3% cut for the producer is just another way to steal money from the artist, because it’s the artist that sells the record and no- one else: “Remember that nobody ever goes in to a record store shouting ‘Give me the new album on label X, produced by producer Y, whose deal memo was hammered out by A&R guy Z and lawyers A B and C!’ People like records because they like music. You’re just sitting in the chair with wheels and pressing the button. Do not forget your place! You are not the star, and you must be content with that.” 4 Like Brian Eno, he believes that there’s no right or wrong way to do the job: “The band at hand, no matter how small in stature or weak aesthetically, deserves your respect. This also means you can’t lie to them, or misrepresent them to the label or the listening public. Perhaps the guitar player wants his guitar to sound like that.”5

c) Collaborator
This type often started out as bass players or drummers, because these are also collaborative roles. They enjoy collaborative situations and bring that band member mentality to their productions. They usually prefer to steer the band towards a unanimous decision and use their casting vote sparingly. Their hallmark is flexibility and a willingness to see the value in other people’s ideas. Their own ideas are thrown into the pot with everyone else’s, and not given more weight than those of any other band member. Their catch phrase would be “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.

The majority of producers would fit in to this role, and I will give examples later.

d) Merlin the Magician
“The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it”- Theodore Roosevelt.
This is my favourite type of producer. Often they don’t even attend the recording sessions. Sometimes, his or her mere name on the album can get everyone fired up about the project, especially the A&R man who often feels that his job is more secure if he has a big name producing the band.
If Merlin does decide to spend time in the studio the direction he gives can range from the very specific, subjective and detailed to the vague, general and philosophical. Sometimes it can be quite obscure. Brian Eno is a good example of this type.

Brian Eno
His approach is more about philosophy and inspiration rather than the technical side of music or sound. However, is strong on collaboration so he’s also a type C. His work with Daniel Lanois on every U2 album since The Unforgettable Fire is exemplary and broke a lot of new ground sonically. For example the drumkit was treated as a single instrument (often by using only one microphone) a move away from the more clinical multi- miked “American” sound perfected by the likes of Roger Nichols and Elliot Scheiner with Steely Dan. Like Albini he rejects the idea that there are “correct” ways to do things and thinks that we should “earn and enjoy from all the different ways we CAN do things.” 6 In keeping with his philosophy he developed his Oblique Strategies cards (see example 1 for an explanation).

Eno is a very cerebral character, and has a lot of worthy things to say: “Normally I don’t stay with the project for the whole time. I deliberately keep out so I can come back in and hear things with fresh ears. Some things will seem completely obvious to me straight away. Like ‘that doesn’t work, that works brilliantly, this is confused.’ I can very quickly, within an hours listening, set up an agenda which says, ‘This we must talk about philosophically, we have to look at that structurally…’ etc. His primary approach to a project is to establish the cultural territory: “Where are we culturally? Where are we trying to be? What books? What films? OK, if this is where we are, then we are not going to do that or that… let’s just get them out of the way and narrow the field a little bit.” “You want to create a situation where there is a meaningful amount of attention on something, rather than a small amount of attention on everything.”7 Burgess takes a similar approach: “I like to get right inside their heads, find out what they listen to, what movies they watch, where they hang out, what books they read, what type of people they are, what makes them happy, what upsets them…”. 8

Eno’s view of technology is a very useful one: “I can’t play any musical instrument, but what I can do is work with many of the interesting new devices that enable people to put music together. It was called cheating when I started doing it. Now it’s what everyone does. It’s called using a recording studio.” 9 But contrary to what that statement might imply, he is not attached to technology. He is well aware of the negative effects of the computer in the recording studio: “As more and more options have become available, and equipment more and more complex, the temptation can arise to forget the possibilities of simplicity. It’s a question of balancing external influences and technologies with your own instincts and beliefs.”10 He prefers musicians not to get hung up on the latest gadgets, and instead be comfortable with their personal skill set. Sometimes, all he does is to help the artist discover themselves. That said, he is still not averse to using a gadget if it aids the creative process. Because he is more of a philosopher he tends to collaborate with individuals such as Daniel Lanois, who is a very accomplished musician. He’s the one who takes U2’s jamming sessions and spots the elusive germ of an idea and preserve throughout the recording process11.

Many bands operate a kind of democracy, where no idea is pursued unless everyone thinks it’s a good idea. The only problem with this is that ego can get in the way. The singer might have issues with the drummer suggesting lyrics, or the producer might feel that he has to pursue one of his own ideas to justify his fee. Eno turns this all too common scenario on its head: Usually what people are practising is not democracy, but cowardice and good manners. We all have sufficient trust in one another to believe that if someone feels strongly then we let them lead…”11 So if the keyboard player wants to try an accordion solo, he will be given the space to develop the idea. And it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work- often a silly idea can lead to something great that is far removed from the original idea, but would never have come about if the artist wasn’t given the space to explore in the first place. It’s very rare that someone has a fully formed creative thought.13 Apart from the idea itself, the courage of the creator’s conviction can be a source of inspiration- Burgess: “Excitement and passion are more likely to produce a great record than conciliation and compromise”. On the subject of the ego attached to the idea, Eno talks about how he will take total control of a song for half a day and see if he can make it work. Sometimes it doesn’t, and of course anyone else can take the same role. He says “you have to have the respect for people who say ‘look you’re grown up, you can take an option and not pretend that it’s interesting when it isn’t.” U2’s Bono has said “With him we discovered the spirit in our music and a new confidence in ourselves.” This is an incredible endorsement, because major stars are not renowned for being very complimentary. No less than George Martin also rates Eno highly: “He doesn’t follow the herd like most people do… I admire him very much”14. Finally, here is Eno’s own take on the producer’s role: “What has become interesting is that artists are people who specialise in judgement rather than skill.”15

Brian Wilson
A very important aspect of production is teamwork. No solo artist does it all on their own, and neither does a producer. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys is thought of as the solitary genius- he wrote some of the greatest pop songs ever, such as Good Vibrations and God Only Knows. But even someone as talented as he was needed a team. The peak of his achievements was the Pet Sounds album. He collaborated with the lyricist Tony Asher, and his session players were the cream of the LA jazz and pop scene. On the out-takes of Pet Sounds, you can hear him directing the musicians and the engineer during the sessions for God Only Knows in 1965. You can clearly hear how drummer Hal Blaine translates Brian’s musical descriptions into standard terminology. Brian was not classically trained, but that didn’t stop him from creating great orchestrations. He knew what he wanted to hear, and he used the studio and the musicians to achieve that. Brian would write out the chord names and hum or play the tune to Blaine. With the other musicians they would work out some sort of chart while engineer Chuck Britz set up the balance. But you can hear that they are still largely guided by ear, and what Brian hums or beats out. You can also hear the musicians making some suggestions. Wilson has no problem whatsoever using their ideas. This was a team that he had worked with for almost five years. In 1965 they recorded three Beach Boys albums, all of which went to number one in the US- clearly this was a good team!

Wilson was extremely influential. It was Pet Sounds that spurred the Beatles on to make Sgt. Pepper. These two albums were the point where record production started to be taken seriously. George Martin was the first person ever to be credited on a record as a producer: “Hearing Pet Sounds gave me the kind of feeling that raises the hairs on the back of your neck and you say, ‘What is that? It’s fantastic!’ It gives you an elation that is beyond logic.” Paul McCartney has spoken about the competitiveness between the Beach Boys and the Beatles in the mid sixties. Wilson has said of their Rubber Soul “That’s it. I really am challenged to do a great album.” Pet Sounds was his response. But when he heard Sgt. Pepper, he reportedly gave up- this was around the same time that his drug addiction became a serious problem. This competition really raised the standard of pop music production, particularly the application of orchestration and creative layering with multitrack recording.

George Martin
Is probably the godfather of record production. He was the first to ever be credited as a producer, and the first independent producer. Prior to 1966, the producer was an employee of the record company. After George Martin discovered how much money his work made for EMI, he left his job there and forced them to rehire him and give him a royalty on every Beatles record. Unfortunately, artists are still legally employees of the record company, and very often don’t make as much as their producer! Martin brought his classical, avant garde and spoken work experience to his work with The Beatles, and helped to change the face of record production. In interviews, he often discusses the more ephemeral aspects of his work rather than the technical. One of his issues is snobbery towards pop music. He is in fact one of many producers who has worked with equal success in the pop and classical fields: “I’ve never subscribed to the view that pop music is trivial, though it’s ephemeral in many cases. There have been great moments in popular music, as there have been in classical music.”16 He has made his career by applying classical techniques to pop music, most notably on the arrangement and structure of their last album “Abbey Road”. Some of this snobbery probably arises from the fact that many pop artists never had a formal musical education. Martin doesn’t see education as a pre-requesite.17 But just to illustrate the point that no two producers are the same, here’s Arif Mardin’s contrasting view of this issue: “Some people think they know Italian if they can say “marinera”. In the same way, some people think they know music. No, you have to know the language”.18 Both have worked with great bands- Mardin with the Bee Gees and Martin perhaps the most successful band ever, The Beatles. It’s significant that both agree on what it takes to make a band great: Without a good song, they’re nowhere (Martin)19.
Arif Mardin
Is perhaps the ideal record producer. His achievements straddle the sixties, seventies, and eighties right up to today. He has produced Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Brandy, Carly Simon, Roberta Flack, Patti Labelle, and Jewel. And those are just a few of the females! He was instrumental in developing the groove driven music and falsetto vocal style that made the Bee Gees into megastars in the mid seventies. His latest success is Norah Jones, proving that he still has what it takes.

“I am particularly proud of I feel for you, by Chaka Khan” he says. “During the meetings, the brother of Chaka and me joked with the piano, by playing a riff and by singing “Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, tchiki boom, tchiki boom”. I thought afterwards: “Why not use this riff in a percussion part?” So we got the tape, and assembled certain passages randomly and backwards and so forth… Stevie Wonder came to play the harmonica, I added the sound effects in the mix, and the applause; the funky groove and the voice of Chaka made up the rest! In spite of all these disparate elements, it is not a jumble of sound; one still can feel the song. In a way, this song was the result of wanted accidents; it is a piecemeal construction that became an instantaneous hit. This experiment taught me a lot.”20 Like all good producers, Mardin is clearly an advocate of the happy accident, and letting the creative mind run wild. The key of course is to harness this into a cohesive recording of a song.

Respect, to quote Aretha Franklin, is his main criteria in selecting a project. “I don’t work with an artist if I don’t respect the artist,” he says. “Respect for the artist’s genius is vital to me in making excellent music. I love good music that is honest, regardless of the genre,” which explains why Mardin has been at the top of his game since the early 1960s. The song is also of vital importance to a Mardin project. “While technology has dramatically changed the way we now record,” he notes, “the song remains the same. Things go forward, but a great song is a great song.”20

This echoes the attitudes of Brian Eno and George Martin to technology, and it’s very important. It’s a very useful tool, but it doesn’t make a good song out of nothing. Mardin says: “It has to hit me in the chest. I cannot describe it. You cannot computerise it”.21 Too often I have witnessed the obsession with details that either make no difference or actually detract from the feel of the music. When people see waveforms drawn on a computer screen they become distracted from what their ears and hearts are telling them. I have often seen groups gathered around the screen watching rather than listening to the playback. My solution is to turn the screen off! The computer becomes a black hole, sucking in time and creative energy. Snare drums are moved by fractional amounts so that they line up visually, regardless of what it sounds like. Computers crash, discs get corrupted and the whole point of the song is neglected. Musicians forget what their skills are and what it is that they love about music. They become engrossed in operating the machines, when what they really need to do is let the engineer and producer get on with their jobs. This is the curse of the home studio. The producer is especially vulnerable, because he is the bridge between the artistic and the technical. There is a constant compromise between the take that feels good and the one where the snare sounds perfect. Phil Ramone: “Don’t stop, please don’t stop once you’re in and the mood is here.”22 “So many great records have been made- Bob Dylan’s Blood on the tracks- from run throughs, not even takes.” “We’re taping, you hear guys talking, you hear mics falling over.”23Ramone is an excellent engineer/producer and a good musician. He is a perfectionist, but not to the point of ruining the magic that can happen when musicians are playing together without any expectations. In fact, his engineering skills are so good that he can get a superb and consistent quality of sound even though the microphones were being set up during the take! Flood: “But that human spark- quite often after the first time you go for it- you never get it again.” It’s all about preserving spontaneity So the skilled producer will allow technical imperfection if it makes the song feel right. The key is to always be recording, whether you’re ready or not! Flood “ …use technology to your advantage and don’t ever let yourself become used by it.”24 Bruce Swedien: “I learned from Quincy Jones to listen to your instincts. We have a tendency to cerebralise what we are doing, and it’s wrong. What we are doing must provoke an emotional response, not a cerebral response.”25

Conclusion:
To quote Richard-James Burgess26: The producer’s role is like a blank cube in Scrabble. The blank can be substituted for any letter in order to complete a word. The producer needs to become or supply whatever is needed to complete the record. On projects that have gone particularly well, I’ve felt that the production process is one of discovery more than creation, almost like an archaeological dig. The archaeologists know there is something precious there. They may not know what it is, how big it is or even what it is made of, but their job is to uncover whatever is there without damage. It’s as if the recorded already existed before you started work on it.

Clearly there’s no such thing as the average record producer.

Bibliography
Albini, Steve
The Problem With Music
http://www.arancidamoeba.com/mrr/problemwithmusic.html

Avalon, Moses (pseudonym)
Confessions of a Record Producer
San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2002.

Burgess, Richard- James
The Art of Record Production
New York: Music Sales Corp, 1999.

Cauty, Jimmy and Drummond, Bill
The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way)
London: Ellipsis, 2002.

Dede, Mehmet
Jive Talkin’ with Arif Mardin
http://www.lightmillennium.org/summer_fall_01/mdede_arifmardin.html

Dickinson, Jim
Production Manifesto
http://www.zebraranch.com/manifesto.htm

Drummond, Bill
45
London: Little, Brown and Company, 2000.

Elliott, Brad
Pet Sounds Liner Notes
New York: Capitol/ EMI 1999
http://www.beachboysfanclub.com/ps-liner.html

Eno, Brian & Schmidt, Peter
Oblique Strategies
London: Out of print, 1975.
http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/

Farmer, Neville
XTC: Songs and Stories
London: Helter Skelter, 1998.

Jackson, Blair
Producer Chris Thomas: Three decades on the cutting edge.
Mix Magazine Jan 1, 1999

Jackson, Blair
XTC’s long road to Apple Venus.
Mix, Mar 1, 1999

Massey, Howard
Behind the Glass
San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2000.

Martin, George; Hornsby, Jeremy.
All You Need Is Ears
London: St Martins Pr (P) 1995

Ross Coulter, Janie
Interview With Producer Arif Mardin
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/6274/44275
July 28, 2000

References
1. Burgess p.162
2. Burgess pp.1- 13.
3. Burgess p.7
4. Burgess p.6
5. Burgess p.118
6. Burgess p. 72
7. Burgess p.55
8. Burgess p.100
9. Burgess p.48
10. Burgess p.83
11. Hot Press p.24 Vol.27 no. 7 Apr23rd 2003.
12. Burgess p.53
13. Burgess p.54
14. Massey p.74
15. Burgess p.48
16. Massey p.75
17. Burgess p.198
18. Massey p. 38
19. Massey p.81
20. Dede (html)
21. Ross-Coulter (html)
22. Massey p.56
23. Massey p.55
24. Burgess p.46
25. Burgess p.174
26. Burgess P.228

Discography
The Beatles
Rubber Soul
London: Parlophone/ EMI 1965
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
1967
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys Today!
Los Angeles: Capitol/ EMI, March 1965.
Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)
July 1965.
Beach Boys’ Party!
November 1965.
Pet Sounds
April 1966.
U2
The Joshua Tree
London: Island Records, 1988.
Bowie, David
Heroes
Virgin 1977
Low
Virgin 1977

Producer credits
Albini, Steve: Nirvana.
Ramone, Phil: Bob Dylan, The Band.
Brian Eno: U2, James, Roxy Music, David Bowie.
Bruce Swedien: Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson.
Burgess, Richard- James: Landscape (also writer, vocalist and drummer); Spandau Ballet, Kim Wylde.
Alan Moulder: Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails.

Example 1:
Oblique Strategies
Over 100 worthwhile dilemmas by Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt.
These cards evolved from our separate observations of the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognised in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were formulated.

They can be used as a pack (a set of possibilities being continuously reviewed in the mind) or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear. They are not final, as new ideas will present themselves, and others will become self evident.

A random selection of Oblique Strategies
Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities

The tape is now the music

Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency

Destroy
– nothing
– the most important thing

Use an old idea

Left channel, right channel, centre channel

Take a break

Remember those quiet evenings

Emphasise the flaws

Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them

Work at a different speed

Twist the spine

Accept advice

Question the heroic approach

Overtly resist change

Is the information correct?

Define an area as “safe” and use it as an anchor.

Courage!

Get your neck massaged

Discard an axiom

Make a sudden, destructive, unpredictable action; incorporate

Yamaha TX16W sampler review and power user tips

This is a relatively rare late eighties sampler. The build quality is typical of Yamaha- very solid. It is a very deep 2U rack unit, and there are 3 very large circuit boards layered inside. It’s a 12 bit audio system, and samples at up to 50kHz in mono or stereo, although the top end is masked on the TX itself by the analogue anti- aliasing filters on the outputs. They give the instrument a “dark” sound, which is actually rather nice. The main polyphonic outs sound brighter than the eight monophonic individual outs. The transposing is nice and crunchy, particularly at lower sampling rates.

The original Yamaha OS was OK- as long as you were not in a hurry and didn’t mind spending forever actually sample anything. The Typhoon 2000 OS is available as a free download from Nu-Edge developments. It is a necessity for TX users. It can import Yamaha OS patches (not just the samples), and eliminates most of the problems with the instrument. Most notably, Typhoon uses a lossless data compression algorithm which gives a space saving of about 33%. This compensates for the double density disk format the TX is saddled with. The Typhoon OS disk includes some excellent sounds to demonstrate the modulation and sound quality. The drum kit is especially noteworthy, because it is created from basic waveforms such as sine, saw and white noise. Typhoon can import and export AIFF files on floppy disk, which is much faster than MIDI SDS or the RS-422 port which is only about 4 times faster than MIDI (as long as you have a serial port on your computer). There is even an optional emphasis parameter to compensate for the dark anti-aliasing filters.

Some of Typhoon’s features have not been beaten by more modern instruments- auto pitch tracking and sample mapping makes multi sampling very easy; straightforward file management like a DOS PC; portamento; extremely flexible modulation and layering; and a logical hierarchical system from sample to multi-timbral performance. Each sample can be mapped very quickly to the keyboard and treated like a patch on its own. For example you can have different pitch bend ranges for each sample, which is a nice effect for drums.

The filters are digital, and potentially interesting with a dedicated Yamaha DSP. You can create your own filters in the Yamaha OS but those are not useable in the Typhoon OS. Unfortunately there is not much depth to the effect of the filters- no big sweeps here! The phasing filter is pleasant though. Another issue is that pitch modulation can cause clicking with certain pitch and sample rate combinations. But despite these problems, the Typhoon OS makes the TX16W a very fast sampler to get around- you can even use your MIDI keyboard to access the menus if you wish. So for fast turnaround of noises into musical sounds, or for old style lo-fi sampling, the TX16W is a very nice instrument to have around.

Tips to make the TX sound more modern
Typhoon can read AIFF files from floppy, so you can bypass the onboard A to D. Make sure you stick to the 8 character filename limit, otherwise Typhoon will chop it down to 8 characters that may or may not make sense! And on a Mac, change the file extension to .aif. This makes the TX Recycle compatible too if you save each slice as and AIFF (from the dropdown in the Save menu). It takes some time to map all those samples chromatically from your beats, but it can be worth it to access the great modulation. Setting each beat slice to a different positive or negative pitch bend range gives an incredible effect.

Used by Jimmy Edgar and Aphex Twin.

 

The Casio CZ series

The Casio CZ series

by Tomás Mulcahy
http://www.madtheory.com

A work in progress since June 9th, 2002.
September 2006: First web version completed.
October 11th 2006: Some typos corrected.
December 31st 2006: New references added.
January 1st 2007: Corrected name of Casio’s first keyboard.
October 13th 2008: improved explanations of parameter values,
envelopes, LFO, and tape storage.
February 13th 2009: corrected name of Yukihiro Takahashi. Thanks to Michael Betancourt.
March 8th 2009: Sales figures and new references and links added.
June 23rd 2009: Added info on DAC frequency response.
August 30th 2009: Created historical timeline; added link to Wiki and US patent.
March 17th 2010: Added info about DAC offset calibration; revised pricing information.
May 22nd 2012: Fixed some typos.
April 16th 2015: Fixed some typos.

Purchase madtheory Casio CZ Authentic sample library for Kontakt

Read about the new samples here.

Click the speaker icon to hear the demos. Direct out from CZ, onboard chorus off, no effects or processing.
CZ-1 keyboard sounds
CZ-1 modulation

Historical timeline
1980 Casio introduced the Casiotone 201, their first home keyboard. A great product and favourable exchange rates allowed them to achieve great success in Europe and the US.

1982 Messrs. Ishibashi and Masanori of Casio patent PD synthesis.

1983 the Yamaha DX7 was introduced, and soon became the biggest selling synth ever.

1984 Casio wanted part of this market, and after a two-year development period, they came up with a £30,000 system called COSMO which was was debuted at the ARS Electronica. The system was based on Casio’s own office computer called the FP-6000, which itself was pretty advanced at the time, with features like a 29 bit co-processor. It was a general development system on which sequencing, phase distortion synthesis (PD) and rudimentary sampling were possible. One was built for IsaoTomita but it never went into mass production. The only other PD synth in the world was the similarly computer based Con Brio ADS, on which it was termed “phase modulation”. It seems that it was fashionable at the time for companies to develop incredibly expensive computer based synthesisers, but only Fairlight and the Synclavier would have any measure of success in this rarified market. Casio was a calculator manufacturer whose expertise lay in mass producing LSI chips. They had already produced the VL- Tone, a bizarre calculator/ synth combo.

1985 In February Casio brought their expertise to the pro synth market with the CZ-101. With its 4 octave mini keys it fitted in with Casio’s pocket calculator image. Its diminutive size contrasted with its big sound, and soon CZ sales were in DX7 territory.

1989 Ed Alstrom, Casio’s marketting manager, estimated 80,000 CZs sold worldwide, making the CZ-101 one of the most popular synthesizers ever.

FM vs PD
Apart from the US patent here is very little information available on how Casio developed phase distortion, but it’s very likely that it was inspired by John Chowning’s FM. In Casio’s version, an envelope directly modulates the phase of a waveform, of which there are eight to choose from. In Yamaha’s original implementation of FM, waveforms are grouped together in eight algorithms, and the envelope controls the frequency of one waveform, which then modulates another waveform or waveforms depending on the algorithm. Technically, they’re different systems because the Casio operates in the time domain (i.e. phase) and the Yamaha works in the frequency domain, but the similarities are clear enough. Instead of introducing a completely new method of synthesis á la FM, Casio came up with a cost effective way to digitally implement the sound and feel of a proven technology- analogue subtractive synthesis. Furthermore, the design also has some features that give it a unique character.

The User Interface
The user interface is the usual “parameter access” which was in vogue at the time. There’s a pair of data increment/ decrement buttons, and a dedicated button for each parameter- just like the DX7 in fact. Compared to other similarly priced synths of the day such as Korg’s Poly 800 and the Crumar Bit One, the Casio is a breeze to use.

The parameters have an arbitrary value range of 0 to 99. The exception is the detune which is sensibly in cents, semitones and octaves. If you’re using a graphical computer based editor most of the time, this is not really a problem, but when you want to make a quick tweak on the synth itself, it can be a little frustrating. Ideally the scales would be in deciBels and milliseconds, but no editor I know of has worked these out for the CZ series.

Synthesis on the CZ

1. Architecture
There are two discreet synths in a CZ, called “Lines” 1 and 2. Each line has an oscillator, the equivalent of a filter section called the DCW, and an amplifier section called the DCA. Detune only works when you mix or “add” two lines together. Line 1 can be added to itself, allowing one line to be detuned, and similarly Line 1 and 2 can be added, and only Line 2 can be detuned. So you cannot easily combine positive and negative detunings. In practice, this is a minor limitation.

2. The envelopes
Each of these sections has its own eight-segment envelope generator. Each segment of each envelope can be as short as one millisecond or as long as a minute, and the level in any segment can be either rising or falling within a given range. A value of 99 is the fastest rate or highest level, a value of 0 is the slowest rate or lowest level. Using the first two segments gives you the classic ADSR type envelope, and after that it can be as complex as you like. The envelopes are probably the most unique and powerful feature of the CZ. Unlike most synths up to 1984 there is a dedicated envelope generator for pitch, as well as the usual timbre and volume, so with the two lines there are six in total. That’s a lot of control, and some very complex effects can be created quite easily. It is possible to use the pitch envelope to combine positive and negative detunings for example, or to add subtle analogue style drift to the oscillators.

3. LFO?
There is one LFO, and this is for vibrato only. It would be nice to have one for each section, but the envelopes make up for this shortcoming in most situations. The ultimate no compromise solution would be envelopes that looped, allowing extremely complex waveforms. Intriguingly, this facility is available on Casio’s FZ-1 sampler. There are four waveshapes and the onset can be delayed. The depth setting can be over ridden on those CZs that have a modulation wheel. On the CZ-1000 and 101, there is a switch instead of a wheel, so depth is fixed.

4. The oscillators
At the heart of the CZ are eight distinctly different, harmonically rich waveforms: sawtooth, square, narrow pulse, a broader rectangular wave, a “split” saw/ square, and three “ringing” waves of the type that resonant filters produce in self oscillation. These waveforms were clearly designed to sound “analogue”. I’ve recorded the raw oscillator output of two different CZ-101s and come up with the same interesting results:

Waveform name Theoretical wave shape Actual Shape generated by CZ Comment
Sawtooth
Positive going instead of negative going.
Square
Nothing like a square, but it is positive going at least.
Pulse
Inverted.
Double-Sine
Inverted.
Saw-Pulse
Negative going, with a twist!
Resonance 1 (sawtooth)
Inverted.
Resonance II (Triangle)
Inverted.
Resonance III (Trapezoid)
Inverted.

According to Richard Young, UK product manager at Casio in the early eighties, Casio’s R&D “were very aware that digital sounds weren’t the be all and end all of sound creation and that it was important to make certain sounds warmer…” Clearly Casio were well aware of the advantages of the imperfections of analogue synthesizers, so they developed the CZ series with the co-operation of Yukihiro Takahashi of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Isao Tomita. I think it’s safe to assume that the resonant waveforms are modelled on the modular Moog- they certainly sound like they are. The rest of the waveforms share traits with those produced by analogue synthesisers such as the Yamaha CS series and Sequential’s Prophet 5. So much for what it sounds like- in actual fact, the resonant waves are generated by adjusting the tuning of two synchronised sine waves, with some additional processing to remove the noise that this generates. Sounds like Chowning’s FM again, doesn’t it? Clearly Casio’s engineers knew what they were doing- the waveforms they produced are the same musically useful ones used by the likes of Tomita and other talented synthesists.

You can select any wave on its own, or combine any two. The combination works by making a single cycle into two cycles, with waveform one making the first cycle and waveform two making the second. Discounting duplicate combinations, there are 33 possible waveforms- again, a lot of flexibility.

5. The filter (kind of!)
The next step is the Digitally Controlled Waveshaper (DCW). This works effectively like a filter, except that the only way to control it is via the envelope generator. There is no global cutoff setting, apart from whatever levels you choose in the envelope. At level of 0 it is “closed”, and a sine wave is produced. It’s easy to set the envelope to sweep smoothly from 0 to the maximum value of 99, and get the standard analogue filter sweep sound that was very difficult to achieve on the DX7.

For the waveforms with broad spectra, such as the sawtooth or square, the sound of the waveshaper is very close to that of an analogue lowpass filter. For the waveforms with narrow spectra, like the so-called ringing (resonant) waveforms, the frequency of the ring increases as the waveshaper opens, just like a resonant or bandpass filter. The CZ is actually carrying out time-domain processing, but as far as our ears are concerned it’s all in the frequency domain. The waveforms Casio chose are a very clever way of using miniscule DSP power to simulate different types of analogue filter. The distinct advantage over Yamaha’s FM that you can readily hear the effects of changing the waveform or the envelopes. Moreover, none of the parameters interact, e.g. if you change the pitch envelope, the waveform and amplitude envelopes remain the same. This makes it a much more manageable system than FM- you can mess around and get good results in time, or you can apply some theory and get excellent results very quickly- very much like a good analogue synth. Casio’s approach doesn’t give the perfect model of a typical analogue synth, but it has enough quirks to make it worthwhile in its own right, and retains the overall feel that makes subtractive synthesis so popular.

Additional features
Talking of quirks, the ring modulator is quite interesting. In the same way that the DCW doesn’t quite sound like a filter, the ring mod sounds rather odd too if you’re used to analogue ones. And it’s not simply a logic NAND gate- there’s more complex mathematics involved. In fact, there are 3 different types of ring mod available if you use the Inside CZ SoundDiver profile from the Sealed website. Nonetheless, the CZ is strong on all types of clangorous bell sounds. Another useful quirk is that the two lines sometimes do not trigger perfectly simultaneously, so just layering Line one against itself (setting line select to Line 1+1′) can occasionally cause pleasant random phasing. All these little design flaws add up to make a synth in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, just like any other classic instrument.

Portamento and chorus
All the CZs feature polyphonic and monophonic portamento. It’s the constant rate type which some players love and some hate (the VZ series improved this by allowing you to choose between constant rate or constant time) and all the CZs store this as a global setting, except the CZ-1, which can store it in one of 64 “combinations” (i.e. performance). This is an extra layer in the patch hierarchy, allowing storage of layers, splits and multitimbral performances. In solo mode it’s last note priority- again, some players favour this. The CZ-3000, 5000 and CZ-1 featured a noisy built in chorus effect which only had a depth control. It sounds pleasant enough and softens the sound nicely, but it’s easily beaten by any of the Roland units. The CZ-1 also stored chorus on/ off (but not depth amount) as part of a combination.

MIDI functionality
Back in 1984 the CZ’s ability to play four different sounds simultaneously was a big deal. The CZ-101 and its sister CZ-1000 were the second ever multitimbral synthesisers- the first being the Sequential Circuits Six Trak (from the same year). Even though they are up to 8 note polyphonic, the 101 and 1000 are restricted to 4 notes in multimode, each part is monophonic, and chosen channels must be sequential. A further limitation was the lack of separate outputs. The CZ-1 was a step up with two separate outputs, but retained the restriction of manual note assignment. The notes were not dynamically shared across the parts- you had to decide how many notes each part needed from a maximum of eight. But at least the CZ-1 is polyphonic in multimode!

The Casio sequencer
The CZ-5000 is the only instrument in the range featuring a sequencer. It is the equivalent of two Casio SZ-1 sequencers. By today’s standards it’s basic, but very easy to use. The step programming is certainly worthy of note. There are dedicated buttons for note durations and rests. Phrases of different lengths can be programmed on each track, then looped. With a mute button for each track, it’s very easy to create interesting polyrhythmic music on the fly. It can also record velocity from an external keyboard. The memory capacity can be up to 7200 notes assuming you don’t use any controller data. Only one “song” at a time can be held in memory. Storage is to data cassette, which was slow but reliable. Sysex can be used if you have a computer based librarian capable of making the necessary dump request. Used in combination with a more modern sequencer it can be quite a creative tool. Interestingly, the sequencerless CZ-3000 goes for about the same money today as the CZ-5000.

Other useful things
The RA-3 RAM cartridge can be used to expand the 101 and 1000’s total memory to 32 user locations. The same cartridge will hold 32 sounds on the 5000 and 3000, but unfortunately these cannot be accessed directly. Instead, the cartridge sounds have to be loaded into internal RAM, so you’re still limited to 32 locations. The CZ-1 has 64 locations internally and in addition can access the 32 locations on the RA-3, but without the patch names, velocity or aftertouch data. The rare RA-5 cartridge had 64 locations and is fully compatible with the CZ-1.

The CZs have a pretty good MIDI implementation for the time, and consequently are well supported by modern editor librarians. I used to store my CZ-5000 patches on a freeware Mac program called CZ librarian 3.0. Later I upgraded to Opcode’s Galaxy. Thankfully, CZ Librarian used the same file format, so even today I still have all my old sounds easily accessible.

The presets are typical of those found on other Japanese polysynths of the time- bright, bland but with one or two gems. They are good basic starting points for most types of sound though. There’s a wealth of patches available on the net, and the CZs are so easy to use that there’s really no excuse for not getting your hands dirty with a bit of programming.

Which CZ is the best?
The CZ-101 and CZ-1 are probably the most desirable of the series; the 101 simply because it’s so small and cute! The CZ series excels at bass sounds, so the four note polyphony is ample. The CZs are also very good at organ and electric piano sounds. Particularly with the latter, the velocity sensitivity of the CZ-1 is a must. The keyboard action is not great- the velocity and aftertouch are far more musical when you have a decent keyboard controlling it via MIDI. Casio’s own VZ-1 keyboard, for example, is excellent. It’s a pity that Casio never made a rackmounting CZ.

Sampling
CZ sounds tend to sample very well, so a 101 would be a useful investment for someone who likes to make their own samples. Sounds with complex envelopes can occasionally be awkward, requiring more multisamples. Most of the time though, disabling the vibrato is all that’s required to avoid a lot of multisampling. Similarly, many patches use the second line for nothing more than a detuning to fatten the sound. Sampling just the one line and detuning on the sampler is much better. Even sampling the basic single cycle oscillator waveforms provides some very useful raw timbres that provide plenty of scope for a sampler with a good synthesis engine. These waveforms are harmonically rich, and the superior transposing on a modern sampler really lets this shine through.

Speculation- the synth that could have been
Casio decided to replace the hugely successful CZ series with the VZ series. These featured a completely new synthesis engine called interactive phase distortion (iPD). This method had the potential for more complex sounds, but combined with a very poor user interface were very frustrating synths to use. Programming is very difficult even if you use a computer editor. Some interesting sounds are possible but programming is not a rewarding experience. It’s impossible to predict what will happen when using complex modulations, and parameters are very interactive. I suppose that’s why they called it iPD. Unfortunately, it was not the selling point Casio hoped it would be.

If Casio had just made the VZ the equivalent of two CZ-1s, and maybe included the waveform drawing from the FZ samplers, an expanded version of the sequencer from the CZ-5000, a floppy disk drive and patch compatibility with the older CZs, they might have had another hit. Roland and Yamaha have been around for so long because they have always carefully built on past successes. Unfortunately, Casio were just too radical with the VZ and as a result of its failure they left the pro synth arena.

 

 

Casio synthesiser range (with honourable omissions)

Model Polyphony Multitimbral parts Onboard patch memories Other notable features
CZ-101/ 1000 4/ 8 4 (monophonic) 16 4 octave keyboard, 101 has mini keys and push buttons on the panel, 1000 has fullsize keys and membrane switches on the panel.
CZ- 3000 8/16 8 (monophonic) 32 Like a 5000 without the sequencer. Tape data storage of patches.
CZ- 5000 8/16 8 (monophonic) 32 8 track polyphonic sequencer. Tape data storage of patches and sequences.
CZ-1 8/16 8 (polyphonic) 64 Velocity, aftertouch, 2 semi-assignable outputs, 64 layer/ split memories.
VZ-1/ 10M 8/16 8 (polyphonic) 64 Velocity, aftertouch, 2 assignable outputs, 64 layer/ split memories. Two assignable mod wheels.

Technical- the DAC
Internally the CZ digitally generates a compressed waveform that is expanded in the analogue domain, a process known as compansion, which allows the 12 bit DAC to produce the theoretical equivalent of 14 bits. It is based on the same principle as dbx noise reduction, where the signal is recorded with compression and sympathetically expanded on playback. As anyone fortunate/ unfortunate enough to have used this system will know, it tends to add a certain colour to the sound, caused by the expander mistracking. Punchy lows, breathy highs, distorted dynamics and honkiness are among its traits. To give you an idea of the sound, the same method was used most notably in the Roland Dimension D and (as an option) in the sampling section of the Fairlight CMI II. It’s no coincidence that these devices are valued for the colouration of the sound.

The CZ-1 DAC runs at a sampling rate of 40kHz, and the filter rolls off at 20kHz. This filter is apparently for the BBD in the stereo chorus. It could be interesting to completely bypass this circuit and possibly realise an improved frequency response/ lower noise floor. However, even with the chorus circuit, the CZ-1 is the best sounding of all the CZ range, when correctly calibrated.

Improving the sound
The service manual is very good. These are relatively easy synths to work on. Most issues are very easy to fix, if you are confident about opening up the instrument and reading a schematic. One very comon problem is best described as a kind of gritty “low bit depth” grunge which gets worse the more notes you play in a chord. This is not the natural state of the instrument. It’s actually the compander mis-tracking (see DAC description above). The procedure to fix this is detailed on page 59 of the CZ-1 service manual: DAC offset voltage adjustment. Note that it’s the same for all of the CZs. A voltmeter is suggested, but actually it can be done by ear. On the CZ-1 (and I guess the 3000 and 5000 also) the trimmer VR3 is located under the keyboard so it is necessary to completely dismantle the whole instrument. As with any electronics repair job, it is sensible to ensure that you have a large and tidy work area, otherwise you will loose screws! It is also a good idea to photograph each stage so that you can put everything back where it belongs.

A virtual CZ: reFX PlastiCZ
This plugin is the closest I’ve found on the Mac to a Casio CZ. It is a phase distortion synthesiser, but it lacks many of the Casio’s features. The basic waveforms are certainly bright, but they are not as harmonically rich as the Casio. The “resonant” waveforms in particular are a disappointment- they have a harsh metallic sound with limited timbral variation via the DCW. The envelopes are simple ADSR types, and there are only two of them, whereas a CZ has six. There is no LFO, a pretty serious omission. The ring modulator is pretty good, possibly better than that of the CZ because it sounds like a real one, or at least a model of a real one… One useful feature which the Casio’s don’t have is that you can mix the output of the ring modulator with the untreated outputs of the two lines.

The interface is excellent, among the best I’ve seen in any softsynth, and the built in effects are a worthwhile bonus. Unfortunately the range of sounds is severely limited compared to a Casio, and the plugin has none of the character of the original synth. But I think, with a few little tweaks- better waveforms, 8 stage envelopes (six of them!), an LFO and CZ patch compatibility- this synth could easily replace a CZ. I suggested all of this to reFX but they decided that the market wasn’t big enough to justify the work. A pity!

Pricing
As of 2006, each of the CZ instruments seem to sell for around 100 to 160, in UK pounds, Euro or US dollars. The CZ-101 tends to be more highly priced, presumably because of its small footprint. The CZ-1 can be had for around 200, but it’s quite a rare instrument. The CZ-1000 is the most widely available, because it was the best value in 1984 with its full size keys.

There are a lot of CZs around, and they are very reliable machines even today. Common problems are failed displays and minor power supply issues- 101s often cannot be powered from batteries. This also means that memory is lost on power down. A computer based editor librarian solves both of these issues, apart from the inconvenience of having to reset the instrument and reload your patches. All good service centres can repair a CZ without any major difficulty. Given the low second hand prices and the number of CZs around, spare parts should not be an issue either!

References

*Alstrom, Edward in
Powerplay VZ!
De Furia, Steve ; Scaccaferro, Joe.
New York: Hal Leonard Publishing Corp. 1989
Crombie, David and Wiffen, Paul

The Casio CZ book
London: Amsco/ Wise Publications, 1986
(thanks to A. Miles for the book)

Cosmo
The history of the cosmosynth and patches to download.

Moog, Bob
Unexplored resources of the Casio CZ-101
Los Angeles: Keyboard Magazine, April 1986

Schlesinger, Andrew
An Insider’s Guide to Casio CZ Synthesizers
ISBN: 0882843672
NY: Alfred Publishing Company, 1988

Sealed
Technical details on the hidden extra parameters in the CZ-1, and a Sound Diver profile to access them.

Tom Wiltshire’s Electric Druid site, with an excellent explanation of PD synthesis.

The Wikipedia article on PD synthesis.

Casio’s patent of PD synthesis.

The Casio CZ Yahoo Group. The files section has manuals in pdf format.