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Topic: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    Hey Friends,

    While we're waiting for the Garritan Christmas "CD" music to make it's way to us from Make Music, here's a fun arrangement I did way, WAY back ... Thanksgiving Eve, 1986 ... my very first arrangement/recording to use MIDI (I was using a PortaStudio 4-Track with 'live' instruments before that!)

    It was created (sequenced) entirely in my brand new Ensoniq ESQ-1, an early synth with a built-in sequencer, and then played-out directly to my cassette player ... no mixer, no bells or whistles ... whatever was in the ESQ-1 was all I had! (Please forgive the crude mix ... hope you LOVE xylophone! LOL)

    JINGLE BELLS - by James Lord Pierpont

    The arrangement is kinda a hodge-podge ... Mannheim Steamroller-colliding-with-Willie Nelson-type piece, inspired mainly by the new synth sounds available to me for the first time, along with a few acoustic-sounding ones (There wasn't even a string bass available, so the bass line is just the low notes on a synth 'patch'!). I did use the classic "I Love Those J-I-N-G-L-E Bells ..." intro that arranger Gordon Jenkins wrote for the mid-50's Sinatra recording.

    The patches, as best as I can remember, were trumpet, horn, bass sax, piano, bells, chimes, synth strings, synth choir, synth used for the bass, 'tri-bells' (hit a key and get three shakes of a handbell!), and my 1st custom-created instrument, the xylophone.

    HUGE LIMITATION: The ESQ-1 was 8-channel, 8-voice polyphony ... that's right: Only eight notes could sound simultaneously (for all eight channels!). So although you could change sounds as a sequence went along on any or all of the 8 channels, you could never have more than 8 notes play at once. If you sounded a triad on a piano patch, that left only 5 more notes for the remaining 7 channels! You always had to have this in mind or you ended up with "note-stealing". But that was part of the fun!

    Ahh ... we have come a long way with being able to now have an entire orchestra tutti play in 2012!

    Please enjoy and have a very
    Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!!

    Frank

    (PS ... I never realized until tonight when I looked up who wrote this tune that it was actually a Thanksgiving song ... Ironic that's when I did this!)

  2. #2

    Re: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    Hello Frank

    How nice to hear you dig up some "Stone Age" variations on a theme. It's fun to hear these things again: they make us more aware of the possibilities we have today (assumed that the wallet agrees).

    I return all he best wishes for a healthy and musical 2013.

    Max

    (for our wishes, please visit My Xmas page )

  3. #3

    Re: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    I don't even remember ME in 1986, let alone any music that I might have written. It is really fun to hear this and compare it to the sounds of today. Nice post. Jay

  4. #4

    Re: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    Ah, 1986, 50 lbs lighter and still teaching. Love this arrangement. Fun (as it should be) to listen to. Not exactly a 'blast from the past' but Merry Christmas Frank and all here.

    Bill
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

  5. #5

    Re: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D View Post
    ... my very first arrangement/recording to use MIDI (I was using a PortaStudio 4-Track with 'live' instruments before that!)...

    It was created (sequenced) entirely in my brand new Ensoniq ESQ-1, an early synth with a built-in sequencer, and then played-out directly to my cassette player...

    The ESQ-1 was 8-channel, 8-voice polyphony ...
    WHEEeeeeeee! That's a great sleigh ride, Frank - I love this recording big time. It's so great you dug this up, and also that you passed on info on how it was done --wow, the good ol ESQ-1, with its build-in sequencer, playing directly to cassette. And complete with 8 note polyphony! OOOh yeah, I wrestled with that kind of limitation, along with everyone else into MIDI back then.

    I used a Yamaha FB-01 which was also only 8 note polyphony. On that unit, you had to assign a specific number of notes to each patch - so there was "voice stealing" - If you had an organ patch assigned to play 4 notes, that's all you got - you couldn't suddenly decide to play a chord with more than 4 notes and expect it to work. The solution to getting more sound was to use it in combination with a 4 track cassette deck, making recording passes, bouncing tracks, sometimes syncing the tape with my hardware sequencer so I could have yet more sounds going on as I mixed the whole shebang down to 2-track.

    Thanks for the memories - And for the sparkly, neat sounding "Jingle Bells."

    Randy

  6. #6
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Hamburg View Post
    Hello Frank

    How nice to hear you dig up some "Stone Age" variations on a theme. It's fun to hear these things again: they make us more aware of the possibilities we have today (assumed that the wallet agrees).

    I return all he best wishes for a healthy and musical 2013.

    Max

    (for our wishes, please visit My Xmas page )
    Hi Max ... Thanks for stopping by and giving this 'stone age' performance a listen!

    Yes, it's truly amazing what we have now. But I'm sure, like yourself and Randy and some of the others on this forum of our general age group, we learned from these crude tools and now today, we have maybe a little deeper appreciation for what we have now.

    Max, I followed your link and heard the most beautiful music when I arrived there! But I have a question: Are you Jos Wylin? Where does the Max Hamburg come from? I looked at the list of music and it is all the music I know you wrote and recorded. I'm confused .

    Frank

  7. #7
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    Quote Originally Posted by jaynkate01 View Post
    I don't even remember ME in 1986, let alone any music that I might have written. It is really fun to hear this and compare it to the sounds of today. Nice post. Jay
    Hey Jay!

    Thanks for stopping by for some vintage sounds (that may have been the last time I used an electric piano! ... only kidding! )

    If you heard what was previously available back then, you would say WOW ... those ESQ 8-bit 'patches' were Wowey-Zowey!!!!! Amazing how electronic music (in parallel with the computer which is really the same thing for us musicians) has evolved. What will it be like in just five more years? Glad it got this far in 2012 ... I like creating orchestral and band music with more than 8 notes sounding at once! LOL

    Frank

  8. #8
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    Quote Originally Posted by wrayer View Post
    Ah, 1986, 50 lbs lighter and still teaching. Love this arrangement. Fun (as it should be) to listen to. Not exactly a 'blast from the past' but Merry Christmas Frank and all here.

    Bill
    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the listen and the kind comments ... hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright! I try and infuse some fun into most of my music ... helps keep me on an even keel! And, Ah, yes indeed ... 50 lbs lighter! LOL

    Happy New Year, Bill!

    Frank

  9. #9
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    WHEEeeeeeee! That's a great sleigh ride, Frank - I love this recording big time. It's so great you dug this up, and also that you passed on info on how it was done --wow, the good ol ESQ-1, with its build-in sequencer, playing directly to cassette. And complete with 8 note polyphony! OOOh yeah, I wrestled with that kind of limitation, along with everyone else into MIDI back then.

    I used a Yamaha FB-01 which was also only 8 note polyphony. On that unit, you had to assign a specific number of notes to each patch - so there was "voice stealing" - If you had an organ patch assigned to play 4 notes, that's all you got - you couldn't suddenly decide to play a chord with more than 4 notes and expect it to work. The solution to getting more sound was to use it in combination with a 4 track cassette deck, making recording passes, bouncing tracks, sometimes syncing the tape with my hardware sequencer so I could have yet more sounds going on as I mixed the whole shebang down to 2-track.

    Thanks for the memories - And for the sparkly, neat sounding "Jingle Bells."

    Randy
    Hey Randy,

    Thanks for giving this a listen and your great comments; it's always fun sharing those seminal moments in music with you since we experienced a lot of the same things at the same time. I'd like to think it shows in our music and our approach to music (along with some of the other "vet" contributors here) that we are the product of our past. Hard to believe that 8-note polyphony thing!!!!! It makes you wonder what will be possible in five more years.

    Thanks for the FB-01 parallel. ESQ-1/FB-01 ... gone but not forgotten ... RIP!

    Frank

  10. #10

    Re: It's Christmas Time! ... Jingle Bells ... My 1st MIDI-Sequence, circa 1986

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D View Post
    Hi Max ... Thanks for stopping by and giving this 'stone age' performance a listen!

    Yes, it's truly amazing what we have now. But I'm sure, like yourself and Randy and some of the others on this forum of our general age group, we learned from these crude tools and now today, we have maybe a little deeper appreciation for what we have now.

    Max, I followed your link and heard the most beautiful music when I arrived there! But I have a question: Are you Jos Wylin? Where does the Max Hamburg come from? I looked at the list of music and it is all the music I know you wrote and recorded. I'm confused .

    Frank
    Hi Frank,

    Indeed I'm Jos Wylin. Anyway, that's the name my parents gave me. When I was studying (an eternity ago), I used to write poetry and my writer's name was Max Hamburg. Why? Because I went pretty often to the North of Germany (as a musician and as a student) and I stayed there in the neighbourhood of Hamburg. When I first entered the LR (and the forum), I thought an artist name would be useful, but pretty soon I was aware that it was 'useless'. Maybe I could change that name now, but wouldn't it be confusing to all the members who know me by now? Anyway, no reason to be confused.

    And thank you for stopping by on my website and listening to my work.

    Max

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