Starting out his career primarily as a jazz piano player, Dan Zank has toured the world with a host of artists ranging from Maynard Ferguson to Blood Sweat & Tears. Dan eventually left behind a life on the road to work as a full-time composer for Yessian Music. Through Yessian, Dan has composed music for television, including show themes, live events, and commercial music for many global brands. He has also worked extensively in the Themed Entertainment and Experiential industries, scoring attractions in multiple cities throughout the United States, UAE, China, and Europe.
His work has been recorded or performed by The Budapest Film Orchestra, Bratislava Symphony Orchestra and Choir, Seattle Music Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony and St. Louis Symphony orchestras, and he has worked in some of the most famed studios throughout the world, including recent work at Abbey Road Studios in London, and George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in California.
Dan’s work as a composer and arranger has garnered a multitude of awards, including New York Festivals awards, Addy awards, two London International Awards, a Telly Award, an AMP Award, and multiple D Show Awards. Dan has also received Best Original Score and #1 Music/Sound Design Chart accolades from Creativity, Screen, and Shoot Magazines.
We chatted with Dan about how he’s using the Prophet-6 and OB-6.
What made you choose the Prophet-6 and OB-6?
“Growing up around synths in the 80s, it was impossible to not be a fan of Dave and his work. I drooled over the entire Prophet series and eventually owned a Prophet VS and a Prophet 3000. (I remember my father had built me a really cool plexiglass stand for the P3000 remote that allowed me to prop it up on my controller for easy access. I wish I still had that today.) Dave’s legacy of outstanding synths is what led me to the OB-6 and Prophet-6.“
How are you using them?
“I never know what style of music I’ll be composing from one day to the next, so anything from doubling a top line in an orchestral string or brass section to beefing up a kick drum, to creating a textural effect or pad for a cue. DSI synths have such an organic nature to them, they fit comfortably into nearly every genre I work in.“
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
“You probably get this a lot, but I’d have to say the Poly Mod and X Mod sections. I’m continually blown away at how complex and powerful these sections are. There’s nothing more exciting than an unexpected result, which is one of the aspects that first drew me into synthesis when I was young. Taking even the most basic of sounds and bringing it into the mod section often takes you from this predictable outcome to a completely unexpected and exciting place. Having that extra level of unpredictability on tap is what makes the DSI stuff such a blast to work with.”
What does it give you that other instruments don’t?
“There’s a connection I get when playing these synths, an intangible bit of mojo that sets them apart from the others and makes all the difference in the world when it comes to being inspired by an instrument. There are certainly synths out there that can deliver on features or function, but they seldom inspire or create a connection the way Dave’s synths do. It’s just built into their DNA.”
Any interesting tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
“The envelopes are already super snappy on the Prophet-6, but I love doubling up on that envelope snap by assigning Freq1 to the filter envelope in the Poly Mod section. I assign either a negative value for a low-end attack or a positive value for a brighter, high-end attack.
Then I set the envelope attack to zero, sustain to zero and increase the decay until I get the desired amount of transient on top of the existing amp envelope snap. It’s great for adding extra punch to percussive sounds, or for gated/arpeggiator sounds.
Also, I’ve got a fairly extensive set of guitar and fx pedals. Lately I’ve been taking a line from the headphone output and running it into the pedal board. I record both sets of outputs into the DAW, so it ends up being a kind of parallel effects setup with lots of flexibility at the mix stage.“
MORE ABOUT THE PROPHET-6 AND OB-6
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If you’re using your DSI gear in interesting ways, tell us about it. Contact us at email@example.com.