Last week, Fernando Moura came in from Brazil for an 8 hour recording session to replace some softsynth sounds with the real deal on some music he composed for an upcoming film soundtrack. He brought a PC laptop running Cubase software, a small MIDI controller keyboard, and an audio and MIDI interface. We provided a Kenton Pro-2000 for MIDI to CV conversion, and, of course, lots of choice vintage synths.
His first request was for a sound reminiscent of the X-files soundtrack, so we immediately steered him towards the Rhodes Chroma since this complex analog polysynth can generate some amazing analog whistle and choir type sounds. Apparently, our recommendation was perfect as he said he could use this beautiful keyboard all day! But when you come to a place with so many pieces of amazing vintage gear, it would be a crime to use just one! We were so happy to use the Chroma because this was the first time it had been recorded since being meticulously overhauled by Tone Tweakers Inc.
Next, we pulled out the Oberheim OB-1, as he wanted some analog bass sounds that sounded a bit different from his vintage Minimoog. The OB-1, with it’s 2 oscillators, each with sub octave dividers, was the perfect choice for juicy fatness. After giving him a quick tour of all its features, he dialed up his own sounds and recorded away.
He also asked for a vocoder, so we recommended the VP-330 Mark 1 since it’s got built in sounds and is therefore more of an instantly playable instrument than most of our other vocoders. As of writing this, we currently have a Mark 2 as well but prefer the Mark 1 since it sounds brighter. The trade off is that it’s also noisier, but that’s ok cause that’s what noise gates are for!
Fernando then suggested we use the Oberheim 8 Voice to replace some polyphonic parts. The 8 voice is fabulous, but when you play it polyphonically, you’ve got to dial in the same sound on each of the SEM modules, so it takes a while to get things right. Realizing his time here was limited, we suggested the OB-X instead and Fernando gladly agreed. A bit of editing some factory presets and he got exactly what he was looking for – warm and delicious early Oberheim analog goodness.
Not used to working with modulars, Fernando then wanted help creating a bass sound on the Emu modular system, so we patched one up and tweaked it to perfection in a couple minutes. The beauty of this Emu modular, which was actually a system put together from Emu black boxes (the guts inside the original E-mu modules), is that the oscillators have a mix output with adjustable volumes for each waveform, and the separate stereo mixer section distorts quite easily, resulting in a unique organic sound.
Finally, we spent the rest of the session cross-patching the ARP 2600 and a Doepfer A-100 Modular Basic System 2. We have four cases full of Doepfer and lots of spare modules that should eventually find their way into our system once we buy more cases. Fernando played us a track with a soft piano break and wanted some background noises to fill up the empty space. After around 3 minutes, we had a sound patched up and told Fernando to hit record as we tweaked the knobs for some realtime modulation. When the recording was done, he said the sound was so beautiful he could have cried! We handed him a box of tissues cause we weren’t done just yet – we needed one more take to totally nail it. Based on Fernando’s reaction, it seems we did.
Fernando said he loved the results from his first session with us and is looking forward to working with us again, which is great, because the feeling is mutual – it was a real pleasure working with such a friendly and talented musician! When we parted ways, he gave us copies of two of his excellent CDs “Tudo Piano” and “Fernando Mauro +Piano”. Thanks, Fernando!
Check out some clips of Fernando’s music here: