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Viewing topic "A Proposed Future for the Motif Platform"

     
Posted on: August 16, 2019 @ 03:16 PM
🎹Lex
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I believe that the ideal successor to the Motif and Montage synthesizer families, in order to modernize them and future-proof them, is to create a modular system like has never been seen before.

The core of the Yamaha Modular System would be the Brain Module. This module would consist primarily of an embedded Linux system like that which lies at the heart of the XS/XF and Montage. It would also have a touch screen and controls for navigation.

This module would come with much of the supporting architecture for Voice creation from the Motif, such as the framework for building Voices from eight Elements, settings for XA Control, a Montage-style modulation matrix capable of super modulation and motion sequencing. But! This is key: the Brain Module wouldn’t actually be able to make any sound on its own.

However, it could be connected to the AWM2 Module. This module comes with the large sample ROM we know and love, 192 notes of polyphony, and provisions for user loading of samples. Once you connect the AWM2 Module to the Brain Module, the Brain’s 8 elements per voice can now actually be populated with sound! But wait, maybe AWM2 is not your thing?

Introducing the FM-X Module,
the VL Module,
and the analog CS Module.

Any of these synthesis modules can be connected to the Brain, and thus the Brain’s voice elements can be populated by whatever manner of synthesis you prefer.

If you have the AWM2, FM-X, VL, and CS Modules? Enjoy crafting a single polyphonic voice on the Brain that features two elements of each style! Or any other combination thereof, of course.

At this point, though, your Yamaha Modular System is missing effects! Introducing the Effects Module. Now you have the effects processing that you are accustomed to from the Motif. But maybe you really love your effects and the Motif’s offering is not quite enough… Not to worry, because the Yamaha Modular System supports multiple Effects Modules in tandem. Consider having double (or more) insertion effects on offer, both per-voice and at the system level.

Now we have a Brain, 4 synthesis modules, and a pair of Effects Modules. Already we’re in uncharted realms of power, but what if the Motif’s outside-the-box DAW-less sequencing capabilities are important to you? For you: the Sequencer Module.

The Sequencer Module brings the classic Motif sequencer including Pattern and Song modes. It doesn’t stop there, however. It brings back step sequencing from the Motif ES and also offers modes never before seen in a Motif, such as a Euclidean sequencing mode, a Fugue Machine style sequencer with a single track and independent play heads per-part, and a generative/pseudo-random sequencer in the vein of Mutable Instruments’ Marbles or the Music Thing Modular Turing Machine.

Do you desire onboard sampling? Purchase the Sampler Module.

If you have been looking to purchase a successor to the Motif Rack XS, your work is done!

But what if you want a keyboard? Unique to the Yamaha Modular System are its associated line of Host Keyboards. These controllers are unlike any others in that they have a mounting space for the Brain Module as well as space for a number of Control Modules.

The standard Control Module comes with 4 Knobs and 4 Sliders, and two of them can be installed side-by-side for the full Montage eight. If you are using a suitably large Host Keyboard, you may even be able to fit 3 or 4 of them for a veritable mixing desk of control.

Other Control Modules on offer include a 9 slider Drawbar Module, a large X-Y Pad Module, a CS80 style Ribbon Module, a D-Beam Module, and an Expressive E Touché-style Module.

Additionally, the rear of each Host Keyboard features space for I/O Modules. These modules come in many flavors: a stereo 1/4” audio out module (multiple are supported for any number of additional assignable outputs), A/D Input modules in both 1/4” and XLR flavors, a MIDI In/Out/Thru module, a USB host+device module, an Ethernet module, footswitch input modules (multiple supported for piano-style triple pedal), a thunderbolt module which supports connection to an external touch screen among other things, and in a real first for the family: CV I/O Modules for those wishing to interface with analog gear and eurorack… Pick and choose according to your needs and wishes.

With a CV I/O Module installed and a computer connected, the computer gains access to these ports for interfacing with software such as Ableton CV Tools, Bitwig Studio, and VCV Rack.

The Host Keyboards of course come in 61/76 key FSX and 88 key balanced hammer varieties, but there is also a model with waterfall keys. Further, a collaboration with Roli brings the Yamaha/Roli Host Seaboard model. Finally there exists the new Yamaha AvantGrand MO3 which can host the Brain Module and fully interfaces with a Yamaha Modular System as its own Piano Voice Module.

I love to dream of the $30k AvantGrand-hosted Yamaha Modular System with 4 synthesis modules and copious I/O. But crucially, the Yamaha Modular System also enables the creation of smaller, more affordable systems. This modular system is also the future of the MOXF. It is also the future of the Rack XS. It is also the advent of the Rack MOXF. For the first time, your Yamaha synthesizer can be assembled exactly according to your needs and financial circumstance. Not to mention, you can start small and then slowly build larger!

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please consider joining the YamahaSynth Ideascale community and voting on this idea here:

https://yamahasynth.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Yamaha-Modular-System/237104-45978

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: August 16, 2019 @ 04:52 PM
lastmonk
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Lex… Your design seems interesting and I’m sure you have good intentions. But your premises are at best spurious.

Goal:  To Modernize, and Future Proof the Motif Platform.

First, the Motif is a musical instrument, not a platform.  For many many Motif owners the Motif is in a kind of “Stradivarius” category.  That is “Stradivarius” of Music Production Synthesizers!  It’s fine just the way it is.  Its a beautiful instrument and doesn’t need modernizing or future proofing.  Those of us who are lucky enough to have one count ourselves fortunate. It may not be clear to everyone at the moment.  But the Motif is truly already a classic, and will simply be more sought after as time goes by.  But that’s just one perspective.

Here’s another with respect to Future Proofing and Modernizing the Motif.  The Motif has complete and tight integration with the computer.  So it already can take advantage of anything you might call future, or modern.  The Motif has a fully integrated sampler and can therefore capture any current or future sound that might be coming down the pike.  Any kind of synthesis that is currently available or on the drawing board somewhere is accessible to the Motif because of its computer integration, midi capability, sampling capability, usb capability, network capability, and up to 2 gig sample ram.

The Motif already has a nice VST that integrates with Cubase and Cubase integrates with everything else VST, VSTi related.  Also because you can import wavs , aiff, and midi files into the Motif there is virtually no current or future musical stuff out of reach of the Motif.  So modernizing and future proofing is not really a concern for the Motif.

Sure in the future Yamaha, Korg, Waldorf, Dave Smith, Roland, Nord, Arturia, Spectrasonics etc might put out a synthesizer that is somehow different than Motif. e.g some synthesizer that uses some exotic form of synthesis. But that doesn’t mean the Motif needs to be modernized or future proofed.  It only means that in order for any comprehensive synthesizer picture to be complete the Motif will have to be included.

As a matter of fact, from a music creation, performance, and production point of view I’m willing to put the Motif up against any synthesizer from the past or from the future.  Based soley on the Motif’s full blown subtractive synthesis capability, the fine grain sample editing (ad hoc granular synthesis) capability, and the tight integration with the computer/ipad.  It is highly programmable at many many levels.  The 8 oscillator/element per voice architecture, the 18 filters, the powerful envelope generators, the powerful effects, the 16 voice mixing mode, the crazy ctlset possiblities, and the ability to mix and match with VST’s in realtime give me all the tools I would need to answer any Synthesis challenge from any synthesizer from the past or some unknown future synthesizer :-)

Although the Motif is not perfect, it is a masterpiece. It does not need saving, modernizing ,or future proofing.  And nothing personal mate, but its the “Motif as a Platform” notion that can cause you to bark up the wrong tree.

Although the Motif can integrate with and interact with softsynth technology that runs on a general purpose computer.  It is not a general purpose computer and doesn’t become obsolete like a general purpose computer or its software.  The Motif is a musical instrument in its own right not a “platform” that can become obsolete.  Musical instruments in the general case don’t need to be future proofed, or modernized.  That’s not to say that they don’t evolve overtime.  Its that they are what they are and they represent the music of their time.

Hell last week I sampled some warped grains, integrated them with some random slices, assigned the result to two of the elements in a six element voice, added that voice to a modified garritan trombone sample to create a very very “modern” sounding voice.

Its all about how intimate a musician is with his/her Motif.  Once a certain intimacy threshold is crossed, modernization and future proofing, is just not even a thing....

The Montage is also a beautiful instrument in its own right and any successor to the Motif or the Montage needs to be able to stand on its own.

Perhaps your design and modular system represents a valid next step for Yamaha, but it doesn’t need to be made in the name of modernizing, or future proofing the Motif.

Cheers!

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: August 17, 2019 @ 07:01 AM
5pinDIN
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It’s always interesting to think “what if...”.

As I see it, a synthesizer is a tool for electronically producing sound. A Motif is a multi-tool, having several useful sound-related functions conveniently integrated in a single instrument. The XF model is the last in the line - the “successor” eliminated some of the features (although others were added), relying instead on external hardware.

Could the concept be expanded upon? Could there be a modular version of a Motif, a “SuperMotif” with additional functionality? Of course, but I think it’s debatable whether that’s a path a company like Yamaha is likely to go down.

One question is “Who would be the customers?”. It seems that most gigging performers want things to be as simple as practical. For out of town gigs, if they don’t bring their own instrument then they rely on backline rentals. I can imagine a discussion concerning availability of a modular “Motif” in such a case…
“We’d like to rent a SuperMotif with the X, Y, and Z modules.”
“We have one with X and Z, and it also has A and B. Will that do?”
“No. It’s OK if it has A and B, but we really need Y as well.”
“Sorry, we can’t help you.”
So other than pro musicians, who else?  Some home users and studios could be potential customers, but would there be enough of them to justify production?

Then there’s the issue of commercial libraries. Numerous of them have been developed for the Motif line. Would such support be readily available if programmers, knowing that many different configurations of the “SuperMotif” existed, had to decide which modules to support?

Just some food for thought.  :-)

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Posted on: August 17, 2019 @ 08:09 AM
lastmonk
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Good point 5pinDin

The whole touring musician angle would introduce some interesting challenges.

But I think the whole live performance/touring thing is dramatically evolving.  How music is performed, where it is performed, under what circumstances it is performed is really a moving target right now.  For example how much of a part does Youtube play in the performance of music right now?  I watch/listen to a couple of groups that exclusively perform on youtube :-( I’d love to see them live, but they don’t do live gigs.  Youtube is the performance venue!  Interestingly enough these groups don’t use Daws, and softsynths!  I personally make some of my music available on bandcamp.  Music that has never been performed live, but was recorded in one take and then pushed up on bandcamp for a small fandom.  I do perform live, but more and more of my future plans involve Internet-based, or Internet-targeted performances :-(

So if the future of music performance involves live web-based jaminars and recorded music targeted exclusively for youtube channels, then the concept and ecosystem necessary to support “touring musicians” will be somewhat affected.  Its a new take on the recording industry, where every band, or musician can have their own youtube channel with their own followers and never go on tour. Or Bands performing over the web in jaminars, where those performing in a live web jaminar are not even physically located in the same place, but using jamkazam, jamlink, sofa sessions type technologies to present a live distributed performance over the web!

In these web based, social media, cyberspaced-centered performances, which musical instruments a musician or band chooses depend on new factors, different factors than those live touring musicians have.  In this context Lex’s modular concept is feasible.  I think he has an interesting design Super Motif wow. I just don’t think its necessary.

It is my current theory that because live performance, distributed asynchronous performance is moving to the web and cyberspace that midi is going to play an even larger part for musical performance than it does now.  MIDI BACK TO THE FUTURE LOL!  Moving away from (or de-emphasizing, or deferring) digital audio in favor of musical performances that generate mostly midi data will give bands the Internet bandwidth that everyone is craving.

So I’m betting on musical instruments and technologies that excel in midi-to-audio conversions.  I know midi was a big deal in the past, and the apparent push is with audio rendering, audio painting etc, but I’m feeling a big resurgence in midi technologies, and an evolution in midi technologies, because I’m thinking (sadly thinking) that live performance is morphing into Internet based performance.  Sure the audience may experience the performance in real time, but I see a future where the audience will not have to go to a concert hall, club, or other musical venue to see the performance, but rather be able to enjoy the performance from any digital device.  Midi is very internet, transmission, and control friendly.  So Midi Recording Studios, Midi based instruments, Audio-to-Midi, Midi-to-Midi, Midi-to-Audio all taking place over the Internet in real time is in my crystal ball of the future of live performance.

The Motif family fits just nicely in this new Internet-based, Internet-targeted live performance world.

IMO the irony will be that as live performance/ recorded performance becomes more Internet based and Internet-targeted, the general purpose computer DAW will be forsaken in favor of dedicated musical instruments and devices that are easily integrated with midi and digital audio and the internet.  In other words the general purpose computer + VST will fade out of the picture and will be replaced by dedicated hardware, physical musical instruments, with style color, personality, and flavor that will help musicians and performers distinguish themselves in the wild wild west of Internet-based, Internet-targeted musical performance.

The Raspberry PI, Arduino, SoC and 3D printing technologies have and will continue to change the game of producing dedicated musical instruments and music supporting hardware.  The argument that the general purpose computer + DAW + VST is the most cost effective way to go, is no longer true.  Now-a-days, its relatively in-expensive to come up with a new dedicated hardware musical instrument, or device.  And the more style, flavor, color, personality, and pizzazz the better. And If that device or musical integrates well with the Internet, Midi, and VSTs, VSTi its going to be a winner.

In that regard the Motif family, is in a very good place.  It is already future proofed.

The future of musical performance will include Youtube channels (or their equivalent), Internet based Jaminars, new and improved JamKazam, Jamlink type technologies and performances targeted for VR (Virtual Reality).  I’m not suggesting that there won’t be any real bonafide live performance. I am suggesting that Internet, cyberspace, and virtual reality based musical performance will eclipse live analog performance, live analog touring and the whole live performance eco-system.

And the next gen of musical instrument will have to have flavor, color, personality, pizzazz, individuality and be very visually appetizing, alluring, and endearing. They will have to be very photogenic, and look good in digital.  This will allow all of the Internet-based, Internet-targeted performances to distinguish themselves.

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Posted on: August 17, 2019 @ 09:10 AM
🎹Lex
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I greatly appreciate the thoughtful responses!

lastmonk - 16 August 2019 04:52 PM

But your premises are at best spurious.

Goal:  To Modernize, and Future Proof the Motif Platform.


First, the Motif is a musical instrument, not a platform

I can see where you are coming from here. I’d posit that, while I don’t think an individual Motif (such as an XF) is a platform in and of itself, the Motif platform comprises:
Motif Classic, Motif ES, Motif XS, Motif XF
Motif Rack, Rack ES, Rack XS
MO, MOX, MOXF
MM, MX
Montage, MODX

Each of these instruments qualifies (in my mind) as part of Yamaha’s platform which I’ve dubbed “the Motif platform” for lack of a better name, in that they share a related architecture, design philosophies, workflows, and (varying levels of) interoperability in data format. At a minimum, they all share the AWM2 specification.

I can see, though, how my introductory sentence can serve to undermine the rest of the idea in that it may seem to convey a lack of respect for every one of these instruments and their continued relevance and utility. I myself own an XS8 and continue to enjoy it to this day despite not having switched to XF (or Montage) along the way.

The bit that you quoted as the goal: I’ve removed it from the text on Ideascale, though I’m leaving it here to preserve the integrity of this dialogue.

lastmonk - 16 August 2019 04:52 PM

The Motif has complete and tight integration with the computer.  So it already can take advantage of anything you might call future, or modern.  The Motif has a fully integrated sampler and can therefore capture any current or future sound that might be coming down the pike.  Any kind of synthesis that is currently available or on the drawing board somewhere is accessible to the Motif because of its computer integration, midi capability, sampling capability, usb capability, network capability, and up to 2 gig sample ram.

The Motif already has a nice VST that integrates with Cubase and Cubase integrates with everything else VST, VSTi related.  Also because you can import wavs , aiff, and midi files into the Motif there is virtually no current or future musical stuff out of reach of the Motif.  So modernizing and future proofing is not really a concern for the Motif.

I agree that the XS and XF do possess the fundamental capability for integration with more recent technologies, but there are some bits that I think could be shored up with nary more than a firmware update and renewed attention to drivers, and others that would require attention to hardware. For example:

The XS and XF’s network capabilities are unfortunately hindered by a reliance on a particular implementation of the aging Samba specification that creates issues when interfacing with more recent operating systems. (I’ve previously documented here a workaround to this issue using Android, but this workaround relies on a bit of software that has gone neglected by the developer and required some “hacking” of Android in the first place.)

The XS and XF’s reliance on a Firewire interface and the now unsupported YSFW driver creates some hassle in needing to seek out an appropriate Firewire card on the Windows platform, and the lack of support for the driver leaves some bugs that will never be resolved, for example one which I have documented over at YamahaSynth, not to mention a total lack of support for Linux systems. This is largely solvable through software, and it would be wonderful to see Yamaha open source the YSFW driver and the XS/XF OS in order to allow the community to solve these issues. But, it would also be very nice to have access to a class-compliant USB 3.1 audio+MIDI interface on the Motif’s end of things, which would eliminate the necessity for driver- and OS-specific solutions entirely.

While the VST is quite nice, it has problems running embedded in hosts other than Cubase. I personally got around this by giving up on Reaper and moving to the newest Cubase AI, but I’ve recently got a real hankering to migrate to Bitwig Studio…

As one more example, no Motif supports the recent MIDI MPE specification. In fact they, and even the Montage, exhibit problems even dealing monophonically with some of the expressiveness allowed by recent progress in the realm of controllers. I’d love if my XS could respond to 14-bit pitch-bend, or 14-bit control of any arbitrary parameter (or set of parameters in the vein of the Montage’s Super Knob modulation matrix) across all 16 channels independently.

lastmonk - 16 August 2019 04:52 PM

Although the Motif is not perfect, it is a masterpiece.

Agreed!

lastmonk - 16 August 2019 04:52 PM

Hell last week I sampled some warped grains, integrated them with some random slices, assigned the result to two of the elements in a six element voice, added that voice to a modified garritan trombone sample to create a very very “modern” sounding voice.

This sounds wicked, and I’d love to hear a sample!

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: August 17, 2019 @ 09:11 AM
🎹Lex
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5pinDIN - 17 August 2019 07:01 AM

One question is “Who would be the customers?”. It seems that most gigging performers want things to be as simple as practical. For out of town gigs, if they don’t bring their own instrument then they rely on backline rentals. I can imagine a discussion concerning availability of a modular “Motif” in such a case…

This is a use-case that I had not considered. Myself not being a gigging musician, I had been focused on a purely studio-oriented design. I’m sure Keith Emerson would happily confirm that touring modular presents some real challenges!

Riffing off lastmonk’s comments regarding using sampling capabilities to overcome any lack of a particular synthesis method onboard, I’m now imagining that the Sampler Module in my imagined Yamaha Modular System could work some real magic by incorporating recent developments in sampling technologies such as SampleRobot. This magic could be radically strengthened through its integration into the Modular System, so that Voices made using the FM-X, VL, and CS modules could be automatically sampled and converted to AWM2 format as a sort of “gig preparation” Job.

Then, a new version of the MX/MOXF could be released for the gigging musician to be able to load these “gig-ready” versions of the Modular System’s sounds. This companion gigging keyboard would only need to support the details of the AWM2 Module and the Brain Module.

I’ve added this thought to the text on IdeaScale!

5pinDIN - 17 August 2019 07:01 AM

Then there’s the issue of commercial libraries. Numerous of them have been developed for the Motif line. Would such support be readily available if programmers, knowing that many different configurations of the “SuperMotif” existed, had to decide which modules to support?

This is surely a difficult question to answer. I’d say I can see it going either way; a wider variety of Voice Modules could lend themselves to a wider variety of commercial libraries. There are professional sound designers out there today who have never worked with sample-based architectures who do great work using other technologies such as FM and analog subtractive synthesis. For example GeoSynths recently had a large set of presets adopted by Moog themselves for release with the latest firmware update to their Moog One synthesizer. Also, commercial library makers at some point will simply follow where the users are. So if this wound up being as popular a system as I believe it could be, supply should follow the demand.

Thanks again for the thoughts!

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: August 17, 2019 @ 12:24 PM
lastmonk
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Ok, Lex your clarifications and points well taken.  We are on the same page for the most part.

The driver issues, and FW issues are also clear.

I bring up computer interfaces because so many rely on the DAW.  Clearly, computers and software are in a constant state of change, one is on a wild goose chase if the goal is to stay compatible with the latest operating system, drivers, etc. The best approach is to minimize the interaction with a general purpose computer.

I froze the operating system and computer that I use with my Motif when I purchased the Motif.  That computer serves one purpose in life and that’s to support my Motif XF8 and my MOX 8.  I treat the computer that connects to my musical instruments as a dedicated device.  I use it for nothing else in my case it is a 17 inch Mac book pro I7 8 core, 8GB system. 

That said, I integrate my musical instruments with the computer only in a few narrow instances.

I do big chunks of my recording both midi and audio on my Motif. For Audio use a Yamaha MG 124 as a submixer going into audio on the Motif. Mix and bounce right there on the Motif.  When that is not sufficient, I use the Tascam DP 24SD for up to 24 track recording.  So if I need fine grain control over audio, I’ll bring the audio into the Tascam. (I never use Cubase for recording, or editing never).  If I have really complex sequences
bigger than what will fit in Motif memory (which is rare but has happened on a few occasions) I break the song into patterns and mix song by sections swapping big sections out to USB.  If the project is too large for this I bring the midi and audio into
Finale and use it as my Midi/Audio Sequencer editor and will record the whole shabang to the Tascam DP 24SD

When I do use the computer it is usually to upload my wavs, mp3s, mid files to the Internet somewhere, to burn CDs for my fandom that still require CDs.  I also will sample VSTi sounds, from synths like Omnisphere and bring them right into my Motif

I avoid the compatibility thing by freezing my computer’s updates, and minimizing my workflows dependency on it.

For serious recording I use the Tascam DP 24 and real physical plugins using the send, return, and aux buses.  For large scale sequencing where I need to sequence more than 16 tracks, I use Finale as the midi editor.

On a day to day basis though, the computer accounts for about 2% of my work flow LOL.  And my group has saxophones, vocals, synths, acoustic, Drums (soon to be midi drums), electric guitars, Ewi’s and a flute player from time to time.  We record and edit everything for the most part in the Motif/Mox and Tascam DP 24.  We mix it and master it between those two, and we use the computer to push a wav, mp3, or mid file out to the Internet,to SD card, CD, or Blu-ray. 

I do use our other mac computers (ones not connected to my Motif/Mox) extensively for music video production using Final cut pro, but even then, the audio has already been sweetened on the Motif, or in worse case on the Tascam DP 24.  So the computer plays a very small (but vital) role in my workflow.

I use VSTs to augment my Motif sounds through the sampling process.  That’s as modern and future proof as I need to be.

Cheers!

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: August 17, 2019 @ 01:52 PM
🎹Lex
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That makes sense; if your XF does everything you want it to do, and in a way with which you are happy, then there’s not much point from your perspective in speculating on any other sort of device at all! I’m of course not suggesting that Yamaha form a “Modernization Hit Squad” to roam the world snatching away people’s keyboards and replacing them with something else.

I do think it’s important to note that this isn’t just about us; future generations will one day have trouble getting their hands on classic Yamaha synthesizers that still work without paying an arm and a leg. With a modular system in ongoing production, I believe Yamaha could carry forward the legacy of the Motif while also exploring new territory without having to abandon keystone features of the past in the name of market research, hitting a target MSRP, or whatever else. Then, anyone could put together a system as classically minded or as “wild and futuristic” as they so desire.

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Posted on: August 17, 2019 @ 03:10 PM
5pinDIN
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🎹Lex - 17 August 2019 09:11 AM
5pinDIN - 17 August 2019 07:01 AM

One question is “Who would be the customers?”. It seems that most gigging performers want things to be as simple as practical. For out of town gigs, if they don’t bring their own instrument then they rely on backline rentals. I can imagine a discussion concerning availability of a modular “Motif” in such a case…

This is a use-case that I had not considered. Myself not being a gigging musician, I had been focused on a purely studio-oriented design. I’m sure Keith Emerson would happily confirm that touring modular presents some real challenges!

Unfortunately, Keith Emerson (11/2/1944 - 3/11/2016) won’t be confirming the point - may he rest in peace.  :-(

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Posted on: August 17, 2019 @ 03:18 PM
🎹Lex
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5pinDIN - 17 August 2019 03:10 PM

Unfortunately, Keith Emerson (11/2/1944 - 3/11/2016) won’t be confirming the point - may he rest in peace.  :-(

Damn, I missed that bit of news. May he rest in peace indeed. I think he would confirm the point if he were still with us… I had the opportunity to see Moog Music’s reconstruction of his modular system at their showroom in Asheville, NC. The other copy is currently on display at the Met! Well worth a look if you find yourself near either location.

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Posted on: August 17, 2019 @ 05:03 PM
lastmonk
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🎹Lex - 17 August 2019 01:52 PM

That makes sense; if your XF does everything you want it to do, and in a way with which you are happy, then there’s not much point from your perspective in speculating on any other sort of device at all! [snip, snip]

“ future generations will one day have trouble getting their hands on classic Yamaha synthesizers that still work without paying an arm and a leg. With a modular system in ongoing production, I believe Yamaha could carry forward the legacy of the Motif” [snip, snip]

Lex I do get what you’re saying.  And I also agree that your design imo has merit for an evolved design of the Motif family.  I also understand your Motif platform paradigm and your desire to perpetuate it.  But sometimes scarcity adds value.  The idea that “future generations will one day have trouble getting their hands on classic Yamaha Synthesizers” (The Motif in particular) only accentuates my original response to your post.  The Motif is kind-a-like the Stradivarius of Music Production Synthesizers.  There were only so many Stradivarius violins made (around 1000 or so).  Out of the number originally made only so many survive to this day.  That is one of the reasons why the Stradivarius is so sought after.  There are other reasons, but its short supply adds to the mystique, excitement, and lore.  Sure I have a sample of a Stradivarius loaded into my Motif, but it doesn’t quite have the same weight as the real thing.

Those of us who actually own a Motif have a special part of synthesizer history.  There were only so many Motifs made and they are already reaching legend status.  Sure future generations will try to recreate the magic, but like the Stradivarius you either have a real one or you don’t.  Knock-offs, samples, recreations,re-imaginations, re-fabrications, always fall short of the original article.

I see your design, and architecture as more of an evolution of the Motif family of musical instruments that encapsulates the great ideas behind the Motif family and moves the ball forward.  But even if we had your instrument today it would not be the same as owning a Motif, or Montage, or ex5, or SY77, or CS80,etc.  Even if it were capable of exactly reproducing their functionality, it still wouldn’t be the same.  The Stradivarius sample that I have loaded into my Motif (I believe its from my GPO4) has an exquisite sound and when I close my eyes, I can just picture that Stradivarius, the smell of the wood, the feel of the bow, the caress of its form, ah yes the sensual hue of its body.... but when I open my eyes, the reality kicks in, and I’m forced to accept that my Stradivarius is just a sample with limited articulations, no wood smell, no form to caress, no bow, no sensual hue :-(

Future generations will either be fortunate enough to actually have a instrument from the Motif family or they won’t. To be certain they’ll probably have something with far more musical possibility than the Motif family (progress marches on), but from roughly 2001 to 2011 Yamaha produced a line of music production synthesizer masterpieces that helped create the magic of music performances of the time.  I’m reminded of a song that had lyrics that started out like this:

“If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing I’d like to do...”

Your instrument design is enticing.  But my friend, if future generations want to really know what is like to have a instrument from the family of Motif they will have to acquire one from somewhere, and as you said it will likely cost an arm-and-a-leg.  Kind-a-like trying to get your hands on a real Stradivarius today.

Have you taken out an insurance policy on your Motif yet?  I have....

Cheers

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Posted on: August 18, 2019 @ 09:26 AM
🎹Lex
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I understand. To continue the Stradivarius analogy: I’m only hoping to see more violins produced in the future. Sure, they won’t be Stradivarius, but at the moment Yamaha is only making violas. I brought the idea here to Motifator to get input from those who appreciate the Stradivarius in order to better outline a path to making some solid violins: not to duplicate the Stradivarius, but to at least make something that is somewhere near the same ballpark. There will never be another true Stradivarius produced, but I don’t think that means we should discourage luthiers from making violins and suggest they stick with violas. I think that the knowledge of those who have a deep appreciation for the Stradivarius is useful wisdom for those luthiers in their endeavors to continue making violins.

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Posted on: August 18, 2019 @ 07:41 PM
lastmonk
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🎹Lex - 18 August 2019 09:26 AM

I understand. To continue the Stradivarius analogy: I’m only hoping to see more violins produced in the future. Sure, they won’t be Stradivarius, but at the moment Yamaha is only making violas. I brought the idea here to Motifator to get input from those who appreciate the Stradivarius in order to better outline a path to making some solid violins: not to duplicate the Stradivarius, but to at least make something that is somewhere near the same ballpark. There will never be another true Stradivarius produced, but I don’t think that means we should discourage luthiers from making violins and suggest they stick with violas. I think that the knowledge of those who have a deep appreciation for the Stradivarius is useful wisdom for those luthiers in their endeavors to continue making violins.

Lex.,.  Amen brother....

In the spirit of seeing the Motif family line continued, evolved, and improved.  Your suggestions have a great deal of merit.  Or at the very least warrant discussion. 

If I could suggest something to Yamaha about future Motif descendants that advice would be:

1.  Build on what already works.  The Motif is what it is, because it does what it does.  Take the things that are successful in the Motif and enhance them.  With the low low cost of hardware production and software production there is no musician-friendly reason to remove successful features.  So one future Motif mantra should be:  Enhance Yes!  Remove No!

2. Remember that the Motif is the musical instrument of choice for several classes of musician: club thru large venue performers, studio musicians, composers, virtuosos, weekend warriors, recording artists in virtually every genre, professional touring sideman, and music teachers.  Part of Motif’s success story is that it serves each class of musician well, and leaves no one hanging.  So another future Motif mantra should be:  Leave no musician behind or hanging.

3.  A musical instrument is a very personal thing.  The Motif of the future should allow the owner to not only make it personal through sound, but also customize the way it looks.  Enhance the user customization options of the user interface i.e. add more color options, more font types and font sizes, add the ability to let owners, import their own graphics that can be associated with sounds the owner creates or modifies.  Give the next gen of Motif the option to order custom colors (for a price of course), but custom colors if you want to spend the money.
So another future Motif mantra should be: Let the owner customize both sound and visual aspects of the Motif as much as is practical.

4. Respect both hardware oriented and software oriented workflows.  Some Motif owners enjoy and prefer tight integration with a general purpose computer running DAWS (e.g. Cubase, Logic, Protools) and VSTs(e.g. Omnisphere, Serum, Predator,etc).  Some Motif owners enjoy and prefer working with physical music support like hardware recorders, compression, limiters, and interfacing with other physical synths(e.g. Quantum, Prophet, Electron Digitak), modulars, physical groove machines, sequencers, and effects boxes.  Don’t try to force those that prefer a software centered workflow to adapt a hardware centered work flow, and don’t try to force those who prefer a hardware centered work flow to adapt the software DAW centered universe.
So another future Motif mantra should be:  Don’t try to force workflows on Motif owners, support both.

5.  The Society of Motif is timeless, as long as Yamaha continues the Motif should be a vibrant line.  Of course there are times when Motif production may slow down, be relaxed, or even paused, but it should never be pronounced: “discontinued”.  So another Motif mantra should be the Motif will always be a current member of the Yamaha family of synthesizers.

Lex if we add my five guidelines/mantras to some of your next-gen-Motif designs, I think we’ll have a winner LOL.

Cheers.

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Posted on: August 23, 2019 @ 08:16 PM
CommandingMotifAuthor
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FWIW I think it’s a brilliant pro consumer idea and a brilliant pricing strategy also. Truly brilliant.

Some keyboard maker is going to build the very kind of moduar type of system you have described, and all the others are going to be kicking themselves that they didn’t do it. I don’t know if I will be alive to see it when they finally figure out that consumers want a totally customizable platform rather than a “flagship” keyboard (flagship is a corporate term, not a consumer term by the way) designed by someone with a ton of features that don’t even apply to them, but it will be awesome.

Keep dreaming big. You should be running your own hardware company. I’d go into business with you. You are a visionary.

mj

motifcity.com

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Posted on: August 28, 2019 @ 09:57 AM
🎹Lex
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Wow! Thank you, mj. You’re entirely too kind.

The idea hasn’t generated quite as much interest as I expected: here, at YamahaSynth, or on IdeaScale. If that’s any indication as to the sort of response that Yamaha might receive from focus groups or some form of demographic data, it does seem more likely to be tackled by a different manufacturer.

If I were to build it myself, I’d want to release it with fully open standards at its core. That would allow for all kinds of interesting products from specialized manufacturers. For example:

* Having the waterfall-key Host Keyboard and associated draw-bar Control Module designed and manufactured by Hammond themselves

* Voice Modules produced by analog titans such as Moog and Sequential, as well an EagenMatrix module from Haken Audio and perhaps a Roland Cloud “plug-out” module

* Control Modules from Expressive E, Haken (an integrated ContinuuMini as one heck of a ribbon), and Ableton (a Push that installs right into a Host Keyboard)

* DIY modules of all sorts, welcoming small companies as seen in the Eurorack space

It would also open the door to competition from manufacturers such as Kawai, Casio, and Roland, for my imagined “AvantGrand MO3” as well as more traditional 88-key Host Keyboards.

(Heck, why stop at 88 keys… I for one wouldn’t mind seeing a 105-key graded hammer-action keyboard for full access to the extended range of Pianoteq’s Steinway D and K2 piano synthesis.)

Perhaps even a variety of Brain Modules might be developed by companies such as Kurzweil, Korg, and Roland, each Brain fully compatible with the ecosystem of Voice, Control, and I/O modules as well as Host Keyboards.

Competition is good and collaboration is great.

Going further, an appropriate standard at the software-level could create the possibility for software Voice Modules running on a connected computer or iPad: potentially some form of compatibility with VST and AU specifications. Combining that with the imagined auto-sampling Sampler Module would seem to create some powerful possibilities for the gigging keyboardist with a computer-focused studio at home. No need to bring the laptop to the gig?

Let’s call it the “Modular Workstation Standard”, or MWS. Yamaha would of course be welcome to join with a minimum of the Motif-style Brain, AWM2 Voice, and Sequencer Modules in order to allow the construction of the sort-of Modular Motif ("a solid violin") which inspired the idea to begin with and also bring some compatibility with the great variety of Motif voice libraries. Perhaps their interest could be garnered after the system was in place and other manufacturers had boarded the train, so to speak.

I do have an interest in attempting to start such a project. I imagine it beginning with designing the software of a Brain Module and exploring possible vectors for inter-connectivity on both the hardware and software layers, as well as choosing an appropriate open-license under which to publish the eventual specifications.

But, I have about as many ideas as I have half-explored hobby projects. I had been working on an implementation of DeepMind’s AlphaZero algorithm, am now working on a voice library for the XS and related synths (a niche project related to the Sony/Nintendo S-SMP sound system), and have been meaning to get started on some investigation regarding the feasibility of running a software emulation of the processor which runs MontaVista Linux in the XS/XF and ripping the operating system(s) in the hopes of laying a foundation for creating community-sourced software updates for the Motifs themselves (Chris Webb, aka arachsys, made headway on custom firmware for the Montage). I’m probably not the right person for the job.

If I do ever make some headway of my own on something related, I’ll be sure to share updates here.

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