I recently got to talking to Harold, who plays bass in Screentests, about some classic synth sounds, among them the famous orchestra hit sample that showed up in Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock and, subsequently, practically every electro and electro-inspired song of the early- to mid-80s. You know, the one that plays about 0:16 into this video:


Well Harold forwarded me this article which discusses the sample a bit more. It was made by a Fairlight CMI, which is generally credited as the first digital sampling synth. And while the Vice article is pretty informative, I suggest that the true obsessive read Robert Fink’s in-depth academic article tracing the history of the sample.

And while you’re at it, you should check out this meticulously digitized archive of 12 issues of Synapse magazine, an old electronic music magazine, from 1976-1979. There are interviews with Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Devo, Jan Hammer, Patrick Gleeson, and more, plus lots of discussion and analysis of (then-)brand new technology.

And when you tire of reading about synthesizers, why not actually play one over at Patchwerk, a web interface that allows you and up to nine other nerds enthusiasts to tweak some knobs and toggle some switches on the massive Paradiso modular synthesizer at the MIT Museum without leaving your desk. (Though you really should leave your desk every once in a while, what’s wrong with you?)

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As touched on before, I’m playing in a new band these days. We’re called Screentests, and we play music that’s a little bit psych, a little bit dancey, and all hottt jamzzz. Laia sings, I play keys/electronics, Harold plays bass, and Danny plays drums. You can check out and download a bunch of songs on our Soundcloud, and find out what we’re up to on Facebook. And if you’re in NYC, come see us play our second show ever–it’s next Thursday, May 17, at Fontanas on the Lower East Side. We go on at 9.