Yup, I’m still alive and kicking! 💀 Sorry for my recent radio silence on social media. I’ve been working double time to wrap up a few new projects, and there are loads of exciting things coming in the near future - just hang tight! ✌️ In other news, @walrusaudioeffects recently released this Fathom/Arp-87 combo pedal that (you guessed it) I did the artwork for! Always a pleasure.
Legendary keyboardist Billy Preston was an in-demand session musician and song-writer. He co-wrote the 1974 hit “You Are So Beautiful”, performed by Joe Cocker. He played with a number or artists, such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Rev. James Cleveland and The Beatles. Like Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin, he was often referred to as the fifth Beatle! Billy went on to achieve fame as a solo artist with singles like "That's the Way God Planned It" and "Outa-Space"- the latter of which won him a Grammy. He was even featured in ad for ARP Instruments. Starting off as a young prodigy, and just 11, Billy appeared on Nat King Cole's NBC network TV show singing the Fats Domino hit "Blueberry Hill" with Cole. Here’s an excerpt from Keyboard Mag, where he describes the gear he had in 1977: KM: What keyboards are you currently using? BP: I have a Hohner Clavinet D6, a Rhodes 88, a Yamaha grand piano, a Polymoog, a Moog Series III C synthesizer, an ARP Pro Soloist, a Hammond B-3, and a Mini Korg synthesizer. They are all patched into a separate board that controls the whole sound. I get a clearer sound that way. KM: What do you think about modular synthesizers like your Moog IIIC and ARP 2600? BP: They’re very good, but I prefer pre-patched synthesizers, because they are easier and quicker to use onstage. References: Wiki, Keyboard Mag, Ultimate Classic Rock, LA Times.
ARP Quartet / Siel Orchestra  Originally produced by Italian manufacturer Siel and marketed as the Siel Orchestra, the synth was later bought by ARP Instruments to be slightly modified. An analog synth, the Siel Orchestra contained four sections of presets- brass, strings, reed and piano, each of which containing two sounds. The ARP version replaced the reed section with an organ one, however aside from that the synthesizer was almost identical. These four tone color families can be played individually or two can be simultaneously played. The brass section creates trumpet and trombone, and the string section creates cello and violin sounds with independent attack and sustain controls. The synth uses a “divide down oscillator network” for polyphony. A method of generating all of the notes and pitches that a synth is capable of producing, using a small number of fixed-frequency oscillators, as an alternative to VCOs. It was used by many of the 1970s-era string synthesizers. This synth predates MIDI. You can find it for under $1k on Reverb or eBay, which isn’t bad for a vintage analog synth. References: Electronic Music Fandom, Synth Explorer, Wiki.