Quantcast
David Sylvian - Synths - Gearspace.com
The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
David Sylvian - Synths
Old 25th September 2012
  #1
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
David Sylvian - Synths

Anybody know what kind of synths David Sylvian has used over the years? He's always had a very unique sound.
Old 25th September 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Dirty Halo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mfin ➑️
Anybody know what kind of synths David Sylvian has used over the years? He's always had a very unique sound.
I know Richard Berbieri (who is his brother, if I'm not mistaken, factoid) was a big Prophet 5 guy and I think he continued to do work with David, fwiw.

-andrews
Old 25th September 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Heathfinnie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Prophet 5 was a big one.
Old 25th September 2012
  #4
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yes in the 80's it was P5.
Since then ? I don't know.
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
steve jansen is sylvian's brother.

i know tin drum was mainly sequential prophet 5 and oberheim obx. I'd also guess probably some of barbieri's roland system 100m.

i know he used a roland d50 in some of his later 80s solo work, and he mentioned using the ensoniq fizmo around the time of the Blemish album.

other than that, not much info has been available, and sylvian is by far my favorite artist of all time, as well as my idol!

in any case, i think with sylvian it wasn't so much what he was using that gave him a particular sound, but more his impeccable taste and ability to craft very organic sounds out of whatever he had. also with his solo records he relied heavily upon an assortment of guest artists, which all had their own unique sound (sakamoto, barbieri, jansen, jon hassell, robert fripp, bill nelson, etc.)
Old 25th September 2012
  #6
Lives for gear
 
LNerell's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I heard David had a Prophet VS at some point, some time in the late 1980s. BTW Richard has a Roland system 700 not a 100. I have an old Keyboard magazine that shows him with a Prophet 5, Emu Emax, Roland D50, and an Ensoniq VFX.
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
yeah, that's rightβ€”system 700! dunno why i was thinking 100m.
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Dirty Halo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by atma ➑️
steve jansen is sylvian's brother.

i know tin drum was mainly sequential prophet 5 and oberheim obx. I'd also guess probably some of barbieri's roland system 100m.

i know he used a roland d50 in some of his later 80s solo work, and he mentioned using the ensoniq fizmo around the time of the Blemish album.

other than that, not much info has been available, and sylvian is by far my favorite artist of all time, as well as my idol!

in any case, i think with sylvian it wasn't so much what he was using that gave him a particular sound, but more his impeccable taste and ability to craft very organic sounds out of whatever he had. also with his solo records he relied heavily upon an assortment of guest artists, which all had their own unique sound (sakamoto, barbieri, jansen, jon hassell, robert fripp, bill nelson, etc.)
Ahhh, yes, that's it- Steve Jansen. (I'm always amazed at the similarities in their voice too, love the Dolphin Brothers album!)

Anywhooo... yes, I think the Prophet 5 was a big part of the sound, I too heard he used the Prophet VS later on and now that someone mentions it, the OBx makes perfect sense too.

-andrews
Old 25th September 2012
  #9
Moderator
 
Don Solaris's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
My first association, when i hear the name David Sylvian or Japan is a chorus unit permanently connected to master bus. :o)
Old 25th September 2012
  #10
Gear Guru
 
charles maynes's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
when I last saw him play (which was a good while ago) Barbieri was playing a D50, an Emax, I think a VFX and and a Prophet 5....

I did see a studio photo where DS did have a Hartmann Neuron more recently though- I think both he and Ruichi Sakamoto are partial to acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, and Sylvian to Hammond organs at least for the Rain Tree Crow recordings....
Old 25th September 2012
  #11
Gear Addict
 
Apprendista's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
News <neuron> Neuronal Synthesizer - Hartmann-Music.com

Pics of Sylvian's studio showing a Neuron, electric piano and an MWXT on top of a keyboard I can't recognize. I seem to recall he uses Nord Leads also.
Old 25th September 2012
  #12
Lives for gear
 
carlheinz's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
PPG
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solaris ➑️
My first association, when i hear the name David Sylvian or Japan is a chorus unit permanently connected to master bus. :o)
that's weird. i can't think of anything he's done that relies heavily on chorus. tin drum was pretty bone-dry as far as fx. and most of sylvian's solo stuff is more acoustic than actually electronic.
Old 25th September 2012
  #14
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
I still think there is a fair bit of processing on Tin Drum it's just subtle. I know it's mainly OBX and prophet 5. Not sure about solo stuff, thought one of my favorites is the Sylvian/Sakamoto Bamboo Houses/Bamboo Music single which I'm pretty sure is Linn drum and Prophet 5 but not sure what else.
Old 25th September 2012
  #15
Lives for gear
 
lestermagneto's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
pretty sure most of tin drum/gentleman etc was prophet 5 and roland system, earlier stuff sounded like some crumar strings on it and orchestrator perhaps... i love japan, ... i think sometimes i hear the jupiter series, but that just may be me hearing the nick rhodes/duran stuff that took it to the bank..... but david sylvians early solo stuff (brilliant trees/gone to earth) seems to lean a lot on the prophet 5, etc, with lots of external reverbs and delays/eq and other treatments....as well as some amazing guest artists like the aforementioned robert fripp etc.... But it definitely seems whatever synths he was using were definitely post processed in a palatable fashion.
Old 25th September 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
 
spaceman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Not much to add , except another big Sylvian/Barbieri/Jansen fan here.

Apart from the P5 , i remember an interview in "Keyboard Mag" many years ago about Barbieri's ( or Jansen's) huge percussion sample collection for the Emax and how he used to meticulously step-sequence them note by note, and also that he used very little reverb in general.
In fact their sound always struck me as "effected yet dry".
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #17
Moderator
 
Don Solaris's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by atma ➑️
that's weird. i can't think of anything he's done that relies heavily on chorus.
David Sylvian - Red Guitar - YouTube
Old 25th September 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
David used a rented (or borrowed) Prophet 5 rev 2 on "Polaroids" (*). Richard Barbieri told me that they were really impressed with what Sakamoto was doing with the Prophet in the studio next door and wanted to try it.

David then bought a P5 rev 3 which he used on "Tin Drum". Note that Richard played mainly OB-X and Roland 700 (the small "lab" system) on "Tin Drum" and David played mainly Prophet 5. It was after the recording of "Tin Drum" that Richard got more into Prophets, he first had a Prophet 10 for a while which he used live (you can hear it on the Oil on canvas live album**) but it heated up so badly that he soon switched to a normal 3.3 rev.

Basically "Tin Drum", synth wise, is just a Prophet and OB-X with a little system 700 here and there.

The pre-Polaroids stuff was mostly done with a Micromoog, ARP/Solina strings, wurlitzer ep and some system 700 here and there. Some of the earlier material additionally features the polymoog, Moog modular ("Life In Tokyo"), ARP 2600 and mellotron.

I'm not sure what other synths David used in the post-Japan period but I'm pretty certain he continued to use the P5 well into the mid/late '80s.

(*) one exception is "Taking Island" which was performed in its entirety by Sakamoto.

(**) still, most of the sounds (75%) on Oil on Canvas was from the OB-X.
Old 25th September 2012
  #19
Gear Addict
 
Apprendista's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Where did they use a Mellotron?
Old 25th September 2012
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
IIRC they used a mellotron on three tracks. Take a guess
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #21
Deleted User
Guest
theres a nice shot somewhere online with David Sylvians studio and a Neuron but also a small orange rack module above an electric piano i think that after some zooming is clearly a waldorf xt of some kind in a blurred kind of way.

The p5 just has that japan sound for me at times , not sure why but i find it quite an oriental sounding synth at times in that ' japan ' kind of way.
Old 25th September 2012
  #22
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Sakamoto

Like someone earlier said, Sylvain has always worked closely with Ryuichi Sakamoto, whom I admire greatly. I know that Sakamoto has always used a variety of keyboards and synths, (advancing with the times and recently using macs and samplers) but during the 80's Sakamoto was using things from Nord, and those vintage midi controllers that wrote out the transients in terms of a 3D Graph. They used the large floppys that each contained only about 6 sounds. I wouldn't be surprised if Sakamoto helped Sylvain out in the studio once or twice.
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Addict
 
Apprendista's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikael488 ➑️
IIRC they used a mellotron on three tracks. Take a guess
An interesting quiz here. The only thing I can think of that might involve a Mellotron is "Despair"... but my turntable isn't wired up and I'm not really feeling like combing through all the albums now.
Old 25th September 2012
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Correct! "Despair" does indeed feature the mellotron choir.

IIRC Barbieri used it in conjunction with a Polymoog (chords) on that track.

Maybe someone else can take a guess on the other two Japan tracks that feature the 'tron!!
Old 25th September 2012
  #25
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoLynx ➑️
Like someone earlier said, Sylvain has always worked closely with Ryuichi Sakamoto, whom I admire greatly. I know that Sakamoto has always used a variety of keyboards and synths, (advancing with the times and recently using macs and samplers) but during the 80's Sakamoto was using things from Nord, and those vintage midi controllers that wrote out the transients in terms of a 3D Graph. They used the large floppys that each contained only about 6 sounds. I wouldn't be surprised if Sakamoto helped Sylvain out in the studio once or twice.
I did not know that Nord produced keyboards/synths in the 80's.
Old 25th September 2012
  #26
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Lexicon?
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #27
Moderator
 
Don Solaris's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikael488 ➑️

Maybe someone else can take a guess on the other two Japan tracks that feature the 'tron!!
Mikael i am eagerly waiting for your book "Musicians And Instruments". Don't know about average Joe, but i know every music producer would buy it.
Old 25th September 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
 
bigbongo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What great thread, Sylvian has an amazing back catalogue.

Gone to earth always fascinated me, especially the 2nd disc of ambient music.

Loved to know what they used on that, it sounds like quite a bit of Robert Fripp's jiggery pokery magic is in there; the sounds are so beautiful and otherworldly.
Old 26th September 2012
  #29
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
David Sylvian - Future Music December 1994

Quote:
Originally Posted by mfin ➑️
Anybody know what kind of synths David Sylvian has used over the years? He's always had a very unique sound.
From an interview by Mark Prendergast in the December 1994 issue of Future Music:
Quote:
David Sylvian:
"I don't work with any one particular synth - I have a variety. I do use them in conjunction with outboard effects, which includes the Eventide H3000. The 'fine tuning' involves a variety of treatments which go to enhance the sounds programmed into synth modules - signal deterioration or distortion, harmonic enhancement, delays, modulation, equalisation and so on. My keyboard work on Rain Tree Crow comes to mind, especially my treatment of Mick Karn's saxophone on Every Colour You Are."

"Sculpting sound is something that most synthesists are involved in one way or another. Most recently I've been working with samples from the computer, creating soundscapes of a more dramatic nature."

"Well, I'm not entirely sure that I have a 'sound' as such. If I do, then I believe that it's created mainly by the writing and the voice. However, I do consider the Prophet 5 to have been of great importance to me in my development as a synthesist and player."

Last edited by Peter Hanes; 26th September 2012 at 03:14 AM.. Reason: Fixed typo
Old 26th September 2012
  #30
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
David Sylvian - Sound On Sound June 1994

Quote:
Originally Posted by mfin ➑️
Anybody know what kind of synths David Sylvian has used over the years? He's always had a very unique sound.
From an interview by Paul Tingen in the June 1994 issue of Sound On Sound:
Quote:
CATHARTIC
David Sylvian: "Tin Drum was a wonderful challenge to work on. Richard (Barbieri) and I were stretching ourselves enormously in terms of programming new sounds. We only used a Prophet 5 and an OBX and tried to emulate fictitious musical instruments.. It was really hard work. But it was worth it."

TURNING POINT
Last December, Sylvian had a triumphant return to the London stage when he played two concerts with (Robert) Fripp at the Royal Albert Hall, no less. The concert was a world away from the dark introversion of his 1988 concerts. Though never an entertainer, Sylvian (whose gear for the occasion included a Steinberger guitar, Yamaha KX88 MIDI controller, Roland JD990, Korg Wavestation A/D, [Korg] M1R, Zoom 9030, Akai S1100 and Kurzweil 1200Pro1) looked relaxed and in his element.

RECORDING THE FIRST DAY
David Sylvian: "There are ... not a lot of keyboards on the album. I played a Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, a Korg M1, and most importantly, a Korg Wavestation A/D. I spent a lot of time programming the A/D, as I still like to program my own sounds. ... [For live shows] I also got myself a Roland JD990, which I enjoy ..."
There are also some quotes from Richard Barbieri about programming Tin Drum:
Quote:
Despite the incredibly rich variety of synth colors, Barbieri and Sylvian used only the Prophet 5 and the OBX, and some Roland System 700. Barbieri remembers: "We took such care over each individual sound that we got quite paranoid about all sounds being new and different. My big influence on that album was Stockhausen, especially the abstract electronic things he was doing in the late '50s. Listen to a track like Ghosts, for example, and you'll hear all these metal-like sounds that hardly have a pitch, yet subconsciously suggest a melody." Questioned about why he and Sylvian used so few synths, Barbieri answers that "when you know a lot about the architectural process within a synthesizer, you can program pretty much any sound you want." Techniques which Sylvian and Barbieri used included the use of pink and white noise from analogue oscillators that led to the characteristic breathy nature of many sounds, and the programming of much movement into the sounds, courtesy of effects like modulation, stereo panning and reverb. These effects were generally included in the sounds themsleves, as one of the major characteristics of Tin Drum was the extremely dry, close-up sound, courtesy of engineer Steve Nye. Barbieri assesses that creating breathy sounds with much movement isn't so easy on digital synths, and although he did get quite involved in the programming of digital keyboards - using the PG1000 programmer with his D50 - his preference is still for analogue.

The monophonic 700 is one of the analogue sound sources still currently used by Barbieri. Others are his untiring, MIDI'd Prophet 5, plus his Micromoog. His only digital sound sources are a Roland D50 and an Ensoniq VFX (plus the Emax HD and Emu III "for basic sampling").
πŸ“ Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 346 views: 120905
Avatar for tommym
tommym 1 week ago
replies: 209 views: 47159
Avatar for ALESIS-ION
ALESIS-ION 6th December 2016
replies: 1371 views: 179389
Avatar for Somebodyperson
Somebodyperson 11th March 2021
replies: 9028 views: 731335
Avatar for Musicncars
Musicncars 16 hours ago
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump