CMI Fairlight: Classic Sound of Early Synthesis
The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument), pictured above, is one of the first computerized sample based instruments. It was designed in 1979 and adopted by musicians like Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, and Todd Rundgren in the early 1980s. It was gigantic, heavy, and about $20,000. State of the art at the time, it helped shape the future of music. Obviously owning one of these monsters is pretty much out of the question for any reasonable musician. Fortunately, there is an iPad app available. The app sounds great and is a very close replication to the original (To a fault, in my opinion, as they have even replicated loading times and disk errors. Why? I have no idea. At $49.99, it seems they have also attempted to replicate the cost). So what is one to do to get those classic sounds?!
Sonic Bloom to the Rescue!
Madeleine from Sonic Bloom has come to the rescue! As a part of her blog’s one year anniversary and 200th post, she is releasing 300 Simpler presets for Ableton Live, all featuring sounds of the Fairlight. Yea, I said 300! Incredible! If you aren’t familiar with Sonic Bloom, the tag line is “All Things Ableton Live: Tutorials, Courses, Freebies, Max for Live…” I’ve been following the blog for most of its lifespan, and I am always excited to see what is next. Even if it’s not one of her own unique creations, Madeleine is an excellent curator of some fine Ableton related resources.
Fairlight Keys for Ableton Live 9
Sonic Bloom’s presets are pretty true to the original Fairlight. They have been properly tuned, but other than that, no features have been added to the original specs of the Fairlight. That’s where I come in. I took three of her Simpler presets from the Keys collection and grouped them into Instrument Racks. I added some handy Macro controls, such as Low Pass Filters, Filter Envelops, Grit, and Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release. Check out the video walk through, then scroll down to download them yourself!
More Ableton Live Goodies From Sonic Bloom
Make sure you visit Sonic Bloom to take advantage of all Madeleine has to offer. She has already released 4 of 10 Fairlight collections and has enough good stuff on her site to keep you busy for a very long time. I’ve always loved the online community surrounding Ableton Live, and Sonic Bloom is an excellent representation of all the good stuff going on in it!
Being a teacher, it doesn’t seem right to give you tools without an assignment to practice using them. So, your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is an exercise in “old meets new.” Using these Fairlight sounds and The Arturia MiniBrute Drums Live Pack, create a track and post it to the Songs Made with AfroDJMac Sounds SoundCloud page. Check out the latest sounds from the group below: