|By now it was the year 1979, and we had strong competition from America, especially the “Oberheim 4 / 8 voice” models and the “Prophet 5″ were very popular with professional musicians. Both were fully analog synths that contained a (more or less) complete Minimoog per voice. The Prophet 5 was far more compact than the Oberheim (the sale prices, too).
In any case, every musician now wanted to have a polyphonic synth. The big question for me was: “How can you simplify the thing?” And digital technology offered itself. Pretty soon, I had the idea that an oscillator had to change its waveform dynamically, and that you could produce all imaginable sounds with it.
Each wave should have 128 samples, and if you would hold 64 of them in memory, this could form a beautiful sound development, and the memory requirements were – even for the time being – realizable.
So far, so good, but from where should I get the waveforms? OK, the standard synth waves: sawtooth, pulse, and triangle, were defined easily, and some abstract waves, too, but I also wanted to realize wind and string sounds. Here, my university studies helped me, where I also learned about acoustics; so I looked up in a textbook what I could find. There were some spectra of trumpet, violin etc.and I could measure the strength of the harmonics with a ruler. There was a description of an experiment where you could measure the strengh of the single partials by producing standing waves in a tube (I found exactly this: the so called Rubens Tube )
As said, back then there were maybe some universities in the USA where you could do real sound analysis, but that wasn’t known, and least of all, accessible to me.
Now I had some spectra and a little sine synthesis program that Wolfgang Kowalk had written, and could transform these spectra into waveforms. Then, I could load these into specific positions in the wavetable and play them with a digital oscillator.
Wow! That really was an experience! But I also wanted to simulate a complete filter sweep with the Wavetables. So I took a sawtooth spectrum, removed some harmonics at the upper end, then some more for the next wave and so on until only a sine wave was left.
If you played this, it didn’t really sound like a Moog sweep, but everything had this jingle to it that made the PPG Wave so famous later on. Anyway, in this way I did most of the Wavetables that are still available in the Waldorf synths and in the “PPG Wave 2.V” VST PlugIn.A graf from the first Wavecomputer users manual, explaining the wavetable principle:
Es war nun das Jahr 1979, und es gab starke Konkurrenz aus Amerika, speziell die “Oberheim 4 / 8 voice” Modelle und der “Prophet 5″ waren sehr beliebt unter Profi Musikern. Beides waren voll analoge Synths, die pro Voice (mehr oder weniger) einen kompletten minimoog enthielten. Wobei der Prophet5 schon wesentlich kompakter aufgebaut war, als der Oberheim. (entsprechend waren auch die Verkaufspreise)
© 2008 W.Palm