Give it up for Live 8-bit: Muso devs raise dosh for Bletchley Park kids
Electronica album sales pumped into programming lessons
Audio Synthesizer-loving programmers have released their very own electronica album to raise cash for kids' classes at Bletchley Park.
Software developers Jason Gorman, Chris Whitworth, Brian Hogan, Lance Walton, Yuriy O'Donnell and Peter Camfield formed a band with the snappy name Music By Programmers and released their debut on 29 April.
The band hope sales will raise some £5,000 to start up a programming club for children at the National Computing Museum in the historic wartime code-breaking environs of Bletchley Park - and a series of parent-child maths workshops.
They used emulators of classic and much-loved analogue synthesizers to create tunes, drawing upon the legacy of electronic music from the 1970s and 1980s.
"This would have been created using famous synthesizers such as the Minimoog, Yamaha CS-80 and Oberheim SEM," said the band's founder, Jason Gorman, who runs training biz Codemanship.
"We’ve created all our tracks using software recreations of analogue synthesizers that model the circuitry with painstaking accuracy."
The band have made excerpts of their self-titled album available on Soundcloud:
“This is a breakbeat track at 131bpm, largely influenced by Datassette, Com Truise and Hybrid," said the above track's composer, Yuriy O'Donnell. "It is written in Renoise, using a combination of processed primitive wave forms (noise, square, saw-tooth, etc.) and contemporary software synthesizers.”
Analogue synthesizers worked on a principle called subtractive synthesis. This involved producing basic waveforms from two or three oscillators, mixing them to make more interesting sounds and then filtering the results.
The technique was pioneered by Bob Moog, whose Minimoog changed the face of music in 1970. It collected together circuits which used to be housed in massive, modular systems that had to be manually patched using cables.
Instead, the Minimoog was already wired and was easy to transport, whilst offering the same vivid, distint sound as the larger systems.
The Minimoog used a three oscillator structure with a much-copied low pass ladder filter which has become the template upon which analogue synths are still made to this day.
However, these instruments now costs thousands of pounds each. The Bletchley boppers were able to buy recreations from French company Arturia, which offers nine copies of analogue synths for the knockdown price of £337.
"Some of the album tracks use 12 or 13 virtual synthesisers. To buy one each of those I would have had to remortgage the house," said Gorman.
"Software synthesisers have been around for a while, but it's only in the last five years that computers have become so powerful that it's possible to have a dozen running at the same time on a laptop,” added Gorman.
"Anyone with a laptop and a bit of know-how can now make an album and distribute it around the world."
There has been a massive resurgence of interest in analogue synths recently, with Moog recovering from its founder's death in 2005 to release new instruments. Even the giant Japanese music manufacturer Korg has re-released the MS-20, a vicious little synth which was first released in 1978.
Electronica fans can download Music by Programmers from CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3 and Google Play. Every penny raised goes directly towards establishing the programming club and the maths workshops. If electronica ain't your thing, you can donate directly to the cause via JustGiving. ®