Free Tribute Sound Set by the Old Men of MIDI
To celebrate the introduction of the Prophet-6 synthesizer and its vintage heritage, the Old Men of MIDI (aka “OMOM”) have created an exclusive set of nearly 300 sounds and have provided it for free downloading and use. (See the sidebar for the download link.)
Who are the Old Men of MIDI? They are a closely-knit group of music industry professionals who were at the vanguard of those using and promoting MIDI from its earliest years. They have had a long association with Dave Smith and his instruments. Among their members are such industry luminaries as Amin Bhatia, Malcolm Doak, Steve Horelick, Jack Hotop, Jerry Kovarsky, John Lehmkuhl, Christian Martirano, Dominic Milano, Drew Neumann, Jordan Rudess, Peter Schwartz, and Mark Vail — all of whom contributed to the sound set.
Here, in their own words, is their origin:
The Saga of the Old Men of MIDI
For one long weekend in January, the entire musical instrument industry descends upon Southern California for their industry-only trade show known as NAMM. It is here that manufacturers and distributors unveil the newest technologies, must-have gadgets, and the latest instruments of desire. By day, the show floor is ablaze with demos and artist signings; at night, a barrage of private parties and concert events keep the conventioneer entertained.
It is against this backdrop that a few intimate and impromptu dinners hosted by the editorial echelon of KEYBOARD magazine began to take shape in the mid-1990s—a mere dozen years after the introduction of MIDI. This rotating assortment of music biz editors, rock stars, sound designers, product managers, marketing managers, composers, and captains of industry could gather to take off their corporate hats and just be friends. The group would share stories of demonstrating synthesizers and explaining MIDI; tell tales of the interesting questions and characters they had encountered; and reveal the often humorous stories of how their products ended up being used. One evening—perhaps after one too many rounds—the group took on the [slightly] tongue-in-cheek moniker of OMOM: Old Men Of MIDI. And it stuck.
Over time, the OMOM team has coalesced into a steady roster of all-star players that have—collectively—helped guide the development of the synthesizer, created the sounds that give these instruments their voice, and used their talents to bring these dreams to market. If you have ever laid hands on a synthesizer—or have enjoyed hearing one played—you have no doubt benefited from their work.
So it was no surprise in January of 2015, as the OMOM gathered to raise a toast with Dave Smith to celebrate the return of the Sequential name, that an idea was born:
“Why not put our talents to use and create a signature set of sounds for the Prophet-6?”
Indeed, why not? This idea shone as an example of our group’s best ideals: The opportunity to come together to support one of our own; one who in return has given so much life to the industry we love. The team at DSI arranged to ship one of the prototypes around to each member of the group; so that everyone could bring their years of experience (both old school and new) to the task of creating an absolutely transcendent collection of patches for the Sequential Prophet 6. These sounds are for you, Dave. Without you, we would just be the Old Men.
— OMOM, August 2015
OMOM Sound Set Contributors:
Emmy-nominated composer Amin Bhatia is both a synth programmer and a film score composer. His prizes at the Roland International Synthesizer competitions won him international fame in his youth, leading to projects with David Foster and Steve Porcaro. His “Interstellar Suite” (Capitol/Cinema) became a landmark album for analog synthesizers. The sequel album “Virtuality” was the first album to be endorsed by the Bob Moog Foundation. Of note is “Bolero Electronica,” Ravel’s masterpiece performed on 75 years of synthesizers in chronological order.
He now uses real players and orchestral ensembles in his writing, but his days with a Roland sequencer and a Minimoog have given him an unusual insight into blending real and imagined instruments. Film credits include “Iron Eagle II” and “John Woo’s Once a Thief”, tv series “X Company” and “Flashpoint” as well as several IMAX films. Amin has consulted for many synthesizer companies including Roland, Arturia, Spectrasonics and now Sequential.
Bursting out of Connecticut’s late 70s punk scene, Malcolm Doak embraced the 1980s NYC “New-Wave” scene as a performer and session synthesist. Eager to be involved on the design and the sound of the latest instruments, he worked with David Biro on a Birotron follow up instrument and did his first sound-design work creating US sounds for the Kawai SX-210 in 1983. Needing to satisfy his passion for gear, Malcolm found a home in the product development team at Casio, Oberheim, Kawai, and finally Korg. In addition to his continued playing, Malcolm has recently turned to freelance copyrighting for Avid, Korg, Air Music Tech, Moog, M-Audio, Akai, and other audio technology clients, and occasionally contributes to Recording Magazine.
Musical adventurer, electronic artist, algorithmic composer, music publisher, multiple EMMY nominee and volunteer firefighter, Steve Horelick composes soundtracks and songs for TV, film and games. His scoring credits include more than 350 TV episodes encompassing such award- winning productions as PBS’s “Reading Rainbow”, “Shining Time Station” and “The Puzzle Place.” His film scores for HBO’s baseball documentary series “When It Was a Game” earned him his first EMMY nomination. Steve is currently the publisher for macProVideo.com and AskVideo.com.
Jack Hotop is a NY-based composer, performer, and programmer for film, television, and studio production. He is best know as Korg’s Senior Voicing Manager, involved in product development, sound design, and artist support from 1983 to the present. Live performances and tours have included The Drifters, Gloria Gaynor, Silver Convention, Equinox, Rat Race Choir, The John Entwistle Band, Leslie West, and The Robin Zander Band. He is a member of LICA (Long Island Composers Alliance), and has also produced various instructional / promotional videos, and programming articles for Keyboard and Electronic Musician magazines.
Jerry Kovarsky is a music industry veteran who has worked as a product manager, marketing director, product developer and demonstrator for Korg, Ensoniq and Casio over a 30-plus year career. Now a freelance consultant, Jerry has done work for Avid, Applied Acoustic Systems, Casio, iConnectivity, Keith McMillen Instruments, Korg and Synthogy. He is the author of “Keyboard For Dummies,” and is a regular contributor to Keyboard Magazine; with a 3-year running column on the art of synth soloing, and many major artist interviews. An accomplished pianist/keyboardist/synthesis (BA in Jazz Studies), Jerry has been a passionate advocate for making music with keyboards and likes to live at that intersection of technology and art. He proudly serves on the board of the Bob Moog Foundation.
John “Skippy” Lehmkuhl
John “Skippy” Lehmkuhl is owner and operator of PlugInGuru.com. He has been a programmer/consultant with Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Novation, Spectrasonics, Native Instruments, Universal Audio, Apple, U-He, Camel Audio, and many more hardware and software industry leaders since 1988.
Christian Martirano is an ATCO recording artist and holds a BA and MAT in Music. He was Director of Product Development at Kurzweil Music Systems (1990 –2002), and Sr. sound designer at M-Audio (2002-2004). He formed Designsounds, specializing in programming computer and hardware music systems. Christian has also worked as a programmer/consultant for Roland, Yamaha, Kurzweil, Nord, Casio, Korg, Novation, Synthogy, Sequential; programmer for Broadway and touring theater companies (All Shook Up, Ring of Fire, Whistle Down the Wind, A Tale of Two Cities, Ministry of Progress and others); adjunct professor (University of Hartford); choral director/music minister for two CT based churches; Director of International Business Development for Synthogy (makers of Ivory virtual piano instruments); and instructional clinician for American Music & Sound.
Dominic Milano helped launch Keyboard Magazine in 1975. In the 30 or so years that followed, Dom served as the magazine’s technical editor, editor-in-chief, and editorial director. When not hunching over a hot word processor, Dom was playing keyboards in bands, designing sounds, writing manuals and sundry content, as well as consulting for a range of musicians and manufacturers including Avid, Kawai, Korg, Moog, PPG, Spectrasonics, and Yamaha. Today, he runs DM&C, a consulting business specializing in content creation for high-tech companies. Like Jerry Kovarsky, Dom proudly serves on the board of the Bob Moog Foundation.
Drew Neumann (Composer and Sound Designer) is best known for his work on “Aeon Flux,” “The Wild Thornberrys,” “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters!,” “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy,” “Evil Con Carne.” He is currently scoring “Bravest Warriors” for Frederator.
He also contributed sound effects to Disney’s “Beauty And The Beast,” “Rollercoaster Rabbit,” and “Off His Rockers,” wrote themes and bumpers for E! Entertainment TV when it first launched, as well as sound and vocal effects to the cult classic horror film, “Evil Dead II.”
Drew has consulted on hardware and software synthesizer development and contributed sound design for DSI/Sequential, Tom Oberheim, Studio Electronics, Waldorf, Ensoniq, Moog Music, Arturia, and many others. He was heavily involved in the development of Animoog, which won a TEC Award in 2013. His studio is packed with a wide variety of acoustic, electronic, and exotic world instruments that have been used on his soundtracks over the years.
Voted “Best Keyboardist of All Time” by Music Radar Magazine, Jordan Rudess is best known as the keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist for platinum-selling Grammy- nominated prog rock band, Dream Theater. In addition, Jordan has worked with David Bowie, Enrique Iglesias Steven Wilson, Tony Williams, LMR (his newest side project with Tony Levin and Marco Minneman), Liquid Tension Experiment, Aviv Geffen, the Dixie Dregs, Jan Hammer and the Paul Winter Consort. Recently Dream Theater’s full-length concert DVD, Breaking The Fourth Wall went to #1 on the Billboard charts. Jordan owns Wizdom Music, creators of award-winning apps such as MorphWiz, SampleWiz, and Geo Synthesizer. He is Chief Music Officer at CME Music, and is the Director of Music Experience for Roli Labs, creators of the Seaboard. In a land before time, Jordan was product specialist for Korg as well as Kurzweil. He has also been keynote speaker at many conferences around the world including MacWorld and the Microsoft Build Developer Convention.
Peter “Ski” Schwartz
NY-born composer, pianist, and synthesist. His long and varied career credits include: keyboardist for house music legends David Morales, Frankie Knuckles, Shep Pettitbone. Arranger and orchestrator for Phil Ramone, Josh Deutsch, and composer John Williams. Musical Director for Madonna, David Bowie, Pet Shop Boys, and Enya. His filmography includes work for Disneytoons, FOX, and Warner Bros.
Over the years, Peter has enjoyed a long relationship with Korg as a freelance design consultant and sound programmer, and is proud to have contributed sounds for the Prophet-6.
Noah Vail Productions
Mark Vail enjoys using synthesizers and electronics to make music that his wife Christy considers noise. With a Minimoog and Commodore 64, he earned an MFA in electronic music from Mills College in 1983. Obsessed with Keyboard magazine since its inception in 1975, Mark convinced Dominic Milano to hire him in 1988. When Bob Moog (1934-2005) decided in late 1989, after writing four Vintage Synths columns, that he’d rather look toward the future, Dominic handed the column to Mark — leading to dozens of VS columns over two decades and the books Vintage Synthesizers (1993, 2000), The Hammond Organ: Beauty in the B (1997, 2002), and The Synthesizer (2014). Since leaving Keyboard in 2001, Mark has written for Sound On Sound magazine, Moog Music, Korg, and Roland; developed and taught a computer music curriculum based on Propellerhead Reason for middle through high school students; delved deeply into Serge and Eurorack modular synthesizers; and contributed editorial and video interviews to Megasynth (www.megasynth.de).