If You Hum A Few Bars I Can Fake It

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-04-29 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

Another new toy arrived in the last month or so that I haven't said much about yet — an Arturia KeyLab 49 Essential, a MIDI controller that came with a ton of assorted software. I'd been mulling teaching myself to play keyboards for some time now, and so I dug into my remaining technology fund and splurged. In truth it wasn't that expensive; there's actual keyboard keyboards I've bought for my PC that were about as much.

My synth keyboard

After some dinking around I managed to create some decent sounding ersatz Vangelis and fake Tangerine Dream, mostly to amuse myself and my friends. All the classic synths and gear they used, from the Mellotron to the Yamaha CS-80 and the VCS3, can now be emulated with startling fidelity on commodity PC gear. And it isn't hard to reproduce their particular turns of musical phrase, either. Zombi started out emulating Virgin-era Tangerine Dream and Claudio Simonetti (Goblin) with amazing fidelity, although the limits of such a project make themselves clear pretty quickly, and so the band moved past just emulating others and found their own sound. It's the easiest thing in the world to sound like someone else, and the hardest thing in the world to sound like yourself.

My thought, then, was to follow the same pattern that unfolded when I was writing: Start with some emulation of whatever I was comfortable with, and then push past that in stages. It's okay to make ersatz Vangelis or fake Tangerine Dream the first few times around, but after that I want to see what can only sound like what I have to give.

This is not the first time I've made music. I took a stab at it some time back, and was so thoroughly disillusioned with the results that I junked it all and decided I wasn't going to bother again. But enough time has passed, and patience and perspective have accumulated, that another attempt may be worth it.

Tags: Tangerine Dream Vangelis composition electronic music music