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Thread: Synths In Film

  1. #1
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    Synths In Film

    Hello Im new to the forum and was wondering if anyone could give me examples of synth work in films and what kind of synthesis it is. I would be very grateful, thanks.

  2. #2
    Captain of Water Music Frederik.Sjölund's Avatar
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    Brad Fidel's score of The Terminator has a lot of synths in it.
    Frederik Sjölund - Swedish 3D Artist AND Soundtrack addict

  3. #3
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    Steve Jablonky's 'The Island'
    Full of synths...
    Hate de score, except one part: 'my name is Lincoln', which is briljant!

    Gr.J

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    Duckmeister teddy's Avatar
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    Blade runner music by vangelis As for the instruments i have not a clue

    teddy

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Aha, one of my favourite perennial topics (albeit from another forum)! . I'll throw in what I can off the top of my head and can help out with gear for only a few of them.

    Depending on how far back you want to go, there are some classic films which are well known to be the first to feature electronic scores. The earliest of them would probably be Luis and Bebe Barron's extraordinary sounds for Forbidden Planet.
    There's also Bernard Hermann's score for The Day The Earth Stood Still (lots of Theremin in there)

    Fiedel's Terminator has already been mentioned. AFAIK, synths for that included:
    Oberheim system (OB-Xa, DMX and DSX)
    Emulator I
    Prophet 10 (used for the metallic heartbeat sound)
    Grand piano
    Electric violin
    (also features a cast iron frying pan hit with a hammer! )

    Terminator II saw the debut of the Fairlight CMI III.

    Also nice to see Blade Runner getting a mention.
    Vangelis's go to instrument is always the magnificent Yamaha CS-80 which features prominently here and his other soundtracks, eg:
    Chariots of Fire
    The Bounty
    Conquest of Paradise
    Antarctica
    etc

    Next port of call for me for synth heavy scores would be John Carpenter's films, and a lot of those scores, he did himself along with Alan Howarth.
    Carpenter's first film was Dark Star, the soundtrack of which he did with the venerable EMS VCS3 at a friends house. Then there's:
    Halloween
    Assault on Precinct 13
    The Fog
    (all feature the Moog Modular IIIP in varying degrees)
    Halloween II
    Escape New York
    (saw the addition of the ARP Quadra)
    Big Trouble in Little China
    (1st use of the Prophet VS)
    The Thing
    (scoring primarily by Ennio Morricone but with a fair bit from Carpenter and Howarth)
    They Live
    Halloween IV
    (Synclavier Digital Audio System, Emulator II, Yamaha DX7, SCI Prophet 10, Prophet 2002 and Prophet VS, Ensoniq EPS, SQ-80, Oberheim 4-voice (rack))

    Not to be forgotten is Wendy Carlos's contributions to outstanding synth driven scores. Two of her most popular of which were also Kubrick films:
    A Clockwork Orange
    The Shining
    probably worth mentioning Tron as well

    Dario Argento's visceral horror flicks made excellent use of some synth-heavy artists:
    Inferno (Keith Emerson)
    Deep Red
    Suspiria
    Tenebrae (all by Goblin, great Italian Prog rockers)

    Tangerine Dream did a few:
    The Sorcerer
    Firestarter
    Thief
    (are all I can recall for now)

    Jack Nitzsche's score for Starman was mostly Syncaliver I think, as was David Shire's score for 2010: Odyssey Two (there's also some Yamaha DX7 and Jupiter 8 in that one as well I believe).

    Tony Banks from Genesis (the man who missed out on 2010 and should not have since Shire's score was as disappointing as the film for me) did some UK films featuring piano and synths : The Wicked Lady and The Shout

    Speaking of piano and synth, John Harrison did a great score for the first Creepshow movie using only a piano and a Prophet 5 synth.

    Rick Wakeman did the Creepshow 2 score but before that, it was The Burning (liberal use of Prophet 5 and MiniMoogs there).

    Mike Oldfield's excellent score for The Killing Fields makes extensive use of the Fairlight CMI and Oberheim synths (having just put the Fairlight to equally fantastic use on his Discovery album).

    That's as much as I can remember for the moment. Hope that's of some use.

    We could also go to TV serials and TV movies but there's almost too much there. My personal favourites are of course Dr. Who, still one of the most original (and one of the earliest ever) electronic signature tunes. Staying with the Doctor, there's Tristram Cary's all electronic scores for the The Daleks and The Mutants (the last one he did for the Beeb before moving to Australia). Malcolm Clarke's Synthi 100 work for The Sea Devils was also quite an ear-opener.

    Cheers,
    Matt

    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Midshipman, Forte elfspell's Avatar
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    Soubase that was very enlightening!.. Have a question though. On Blade Runner and Antarctica (as well as on many other of his compositions) Vangelis from his Yamaha CS-80 gets two distinct sounds. The "trumpet-like" and the "rhode-like". I have tried to make similar sounds on my Yamaha emulator in Cubase. Managed to make the "trumpet" one but could not make the "rhodes" one. Do you know how? To make a clearer sound example, it is the first instrument you hear on Memories of Antarctica..

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Nothing like replying almost a year late! Was idly doing a search looking for posts on Vangelis and had forgotten about this thread.

    I have tried to make similar sounds on my Yamaha emulator in Cubase. Managed to make the "trumpet" one but could not make the "rhodes" one.
    That'll be because Vangelis uses a real Rhodes, not a synthesised one. Below are some links to a couple of my favourite sites on Vangelis and his gear. The SOS article is particularly good as it covers his composing and recording processes in great detail (this is assuming you haven't found them already of course! )

    http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1997.../vangelis.html

    http://elsew.com/data/synths.htm
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  8. #8
    Midshipman, Forte elfspell's Avatar
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    Hey Soubasse!..

    Long time no read. Nice to reed you even after a year

    Quote Originally Posted by Soubasse View Post
    That'll be because Vangelis uses a real Rhodes, not a synthesised one.
    About that.. done some research and tried to contact personaly Vangelis here in Athens. Did not find him here so will try later. Nevertheless I believe that the sound I am looking for is done in Yamaha's Polyphonic CS80 synthesizer.
    The thing is that I am always lost when I try to work it out. Hence, could anyone point me the way to make a sound such as the Rhodes on "Antarctica Echoes" through the Yamaha CS80 ???
    please???
    Always honest
    elfspell.com

  9. #9
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    Wendy Carlos's Kubrick scores are a treat.

    Hans Zimmer also uses synthesizers, less so nowadays though.

  10. #10
    Duckmeister teddy's Avatar
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    Wellcome back elfspell. good to see you

    teddy

  11. #11
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Oh that sound! Right, I'm with you now. I have a sneaking suspicion that he may have done that (and the bell-like pings at the start of Antarctica Echoes) on the GS-1 (which he had just taken delivery of at the time). The GS-1 was the first of Yamaha's FM synths (the lead-up to the DX series) and those particular sounds that you're interested in have quite an FM quality to them. If you've not seen this vid, check it out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRO8BT6o8Us

    A great little clip of Mr. P working on this excellent score. In the foreground is the GS-1 with the Rhodes at right angles. Atop the Rhodes is the Emulator and the Roland String synth/Vocoder (VP-330 ... I think), then there's the Minimoog (he seems to be running something through the filter) and then at the back is the Yamaha CP piano with the magnificent CS-80 on top. At around 1:27 you can clearly see him playing the GS-1 and it sounds a lot like the sound heard starting Antarctica Echoes (and it's possibly a less-bright version of the same in Memory). Audio doesn't match the visuals from 1:45, but I hope this little snippet is of some help.

    Which CS-80 emulator are you using (I would assume the Arturia?). It wouldn't be impossible to achieve something close to it on an analogue synth ... thining, thinking ...
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  12. #12
    Apprentice, Piano
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    Hans Zimmer also uses synthesizers, less so nowadays though.

  13. #13
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Wow!I just got some ideas by reading this!thank you so much!

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