Electronic Music

Electronic music has been a great influence in my life, even before my first exposure to Wendy Carlos as a child. I first learned how to play piano in 1st grade, at the time from a church organist. Slowly I learned more about playing electric keyboard-type instruments, culimnating in music for a few masses at the St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago.When I got my first synthesizer in 1987 (a Casio CZ-230S, nothing special, but it did the trick) I really started to get excited. During high school, I was a member of the legendary New Trier Synthesizer Ensemble, which won Downbeat Magazine’s Best Combo/Small Jazz Group award at the high school level in 1991. My work with NTHS lead me into more esoteric synths: at home, I had a TX81Z (4-op Yamaha FM synthesizer), and eventually upgraded the CZ-101 to an Ensoniq EPS (13-bit 3.5″ floppy-based sampler), impressed by fellow New Trier denizen Michael J. Verta’s Ensoniq Mirage. Being limited to just two synthesizers really taught me how to make the most use of my equipment. I still pine for the load-while-you-play features of the EPS, which saved my ass more times than I can count in concert! I added an Ensoniq VFX in my senior year, which featured prominently on the award-winning recordings. (Actually, the VFX was in the shop; I had a loaner VFX-SD unit for the recording, with its fantastically grungy Hammond B3 emulation. I was hooked.) I also took advantage of the EPS and a 4-track cassette recorder to make some renaissance music for the NTHS Shakespeare Workshop, in which I participated for 3 years.

Classmates like Ben Lewis had Roland synths like the D-50, and my high school had the older generation of Rolands (JX-8P) — while I loved them, they didn’t motivate me the same way. It wasn’t until my university years that I returned to the Roland sound (Super JX / JX-10, and gray SH-101), and upgraded the EPS to a Kurzweil K2000. Once I was firmly planted in the “income generating” generation, I built out a studio with a Pro Tools setup (G3-powered), a Lexicon MPX-1 effects unit, and miscellaneous mixer hardware. It wouldn’t be until the 21st century that I finally started collecting the analogue synthesizers that made me oh-so-excited during my youth: the Voyetra 8, the Yamaha CS-80, and the Minimoog (Voyager edition). I also snatched up an Andromeda A6 (serial #1!) to replicate the other analogue beasties as best as possible.

Next stop: modulars. MOTM all the way. OK, maybe a few Cyndustries modules too.

So the current studio setup here in Toronto is:

Audio mixing/processing equipment

Computing & MIDI equipment

Essential Software (MAC OSX)


  • FX pedals: 2x Dunlop Cry-Baby pedals, Yamaha Flanger, generic guitar fuzz, others…
  • Various standalone amplifiers, including a classic Fender tube amp and a Pignose for on-the-go
  • APC UPS system (used as primary power filter)
  • Furman RackRider RR-15 rack power conditioner (secondary)
  • Tektronix 465b 100MHz analog oscilloscope, part of a full electronics workshop…

3 thoughts on “Electronic Music

  1. Pingback: An Atypical Life » Blog Archive » slow recently

  2. I see a tascam 388 was listed among the gear lists. I own one myself….actually it was my first official recording machine. Make no mistake, that bad boy is a true workhorse!

    Unfortunately, due to all the use, the spring assembly is gone bad.If you have any info about parts or service centers, I would be much obliged. Tascam themselves were of no help….the rep pretty much denied any knowledge of their pruduct line prior to 2001. Thanks.


  3. Dear Joan,
    I downloaded and printed out your Voyetra 8 SysEx PDF (7 pages). Unfortunately, on page
    6, the entry for byte 27 (Hexidecimal = 39 decimal) is cut in half, and the description of the
    remaining 5 bytes is missing altogether. The final byte should (I think) be numbered 0x2C,
    which is 44 in decimal, 44 instead of 45 because the first byte is “number 0”. If you have
    this info, could you drop me a note; Otherwise, when I find it elsewhere, I’ll try and get a copy
    to you.
    David Hillel Wilson
    New England Synthesizer Museum
    over 300 synthesizers “On Display for You to Play”
    We’re a Resource – Use Us(tm).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *