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Vangelis And The CS80 The Great Double Act


The Yamaha CS80 is a great keyboard and a timeless classic machine, and even by today's standards it is regarded as a milestone in synthesizer technology. Developed and produced from 1976-79, it housed a lot of new technology that enabled a lone composer to create instrumental sounds through syntheses. Many musicians used this technology to create vast thick sounds by editing and layering timbres. The CS80 was the synthesizer that played its part in creating one of cinema's greatest soundtracks... Beavering away in a small studio just off Edge Where Road in London, Vangelis, a Greek composer, was creating the soundtrack to film noire classic, Blade runner. It was at about this time that a new technology became the for-front in modern composing. This technology was FM synthesis which allowed for more realistic, expressive timbre sounds to be created. This led to many film soundtracks being entirely made by one individual composer rather than entire orchestras, as was traditional. This annoyed many classical instrumentalists. Not happy working with one instrument, Vangelis would always have a vast array of keyboards laid out around him, just in case inspiration came knocking. He would have one set up so he could instantly take to the keyboard and channel the sound before self-doubt set in. Vangelis seemed to believe that when an idea is at its purist it is at its moment of creation, so he wanted the transition between thought and creation of a sound to be as short a distance as possible. The longer he would wait the more the true essence of that sound would dissipate. The Yamaha CS80 was such a great instrument for capturing and sculpturing sounds. It was considered, by many, to be Japan's first greatest synthesizer. It was able to give great expression and width to brass and string sounds, with its fantastic but natural de-tuning. This kind of essence was missing in later synthesizers and digital keyboards. They would come across as thin, cheesy and just seem like a poor imitation. The CS80 had 8 voice polyphony which allowed for 8 sounds to be played simultaneously. Nowadays this is considered sub-average, but for the time it was rather advanced. Its greatness truly shined through in its authentic strings, which where fantastically vibrant and naturalistic. it was also brilliant at creating original sounding drones and thick stark noises, that were just unparalleled.


The CS80 had rather a clunky design with big chunky sliders decorating its exterior and weighed in at 100kg, not the most portable synthesizers around. some of the great breathy sounds created by the CS80 could be partly attributed to its after touch feature, allowing for control over modulation speed and depth, volume and brightness. This would enable a lot of creativity when putting down phrases. The initial pitch bend was a stand out feature, it would add a great twang to the note as it slid up to its proper pitch level. This was great for adding weird pitch changes to many of the pre-sets sounds. Loads of fun could be had with the ribbon controller and the breathtaking ring modulation, these stood apart from the more conventional Moog configuration. The CS80s ribbon had no centre position allowing for great transition when shifting from high pitch down to sub level frequencies. One of the reasons it wasn't the defining synth of the 70's was it didn't have any editable pre-sets unlike the profit that was released around the same time. Its price tag and weight issues were another problem, musicians just didn't want to cart them around. Many musicians said that a CS80 would easily detune itself when transporting from one location to another, and had to be strictly positioned upright at all times. This also meant that it had to be carried in a flight case or kept in one definite position so that none of its delicate parts could be damaged or changed. When Vangelis composed the soundtrack to Bladerunner it was a departure from other soundtracks. He wanted to capture the emotion and atmosphere, creating a more visceral sound that matched the film perfectly. Vangelis would write his music to the colour and mood rather than getting bogged down in the exact context. The sound Vangelis was able to capture was also attributed to the cacophony of keyboards, synths and sequences he had built up. Nemo studios became a perfect canvas for his imagination. The Bladerunner soundtrack was not released in part for another 12 years and the soundtrack still wasn't a complete representation of the film. Because the soundtrack was made up of numerous schisms and drones in the dark, it was hardly worthy to be represented on one single uniformed CD. The later released soundtrack became its own animal, but still didn't document every sound from the the film's soundtrack. Many bootlegs preceded the official release but still didn't cover every aspect of the sound. Recently a 25 anniversary addition of the soundtrack has been released.


This is the most expansive and complete version yet and include many more tracks. Allot more sounds from the original feature still only exist somewhere on the original recording, yet to see the light of day. Vangelis was an influential yet private individual who, with the help of a few other musicians and keyboards, including the CS80, helped change the face of electronic music and helped electronic music be accepted as an individual art form. The deep melancholy and celestial shadings Vangelis' sound created helped influence hundreds of musicians and is still greatly received today as being both timelessly contemporary and classical.


Vangelis And The CS80  

The CS80 was the synthesizer that played its part in creating one of cinema's greatest soundtracks... Vangelis would always have a vast arra...

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