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Lots of fun.

Well, interestingly enough one of the new developments in music software
technology has been virtual instruments.  The idea started with
Propellerheads "Rebirth" which emulator three out of production Roland
synths for the dance market and the results were definetely impressive.

Now things have gone a bit further.

Steinberg most notably seems to be one of the ones behind this
development.  Their cubase audio sequencer allows use of "virtual
instruments" that can receive midi commands and have their output
show up in the audio mixer and be effected by effects and have the
audio printed to disc, etc.

Anyway, I download a demo of their virtual PPG v2.x waveterm synth and
I install it into my demo version of Cubase to see just how good it is.

Well, it just about knocked me on my can for lo and behold a sound that
I didn't think I'd ever be triggering was then available to me.  It didn't
just sound sorta like a PPG, it sounded EXACTLY like it and all of the 
knobs on the virtual interface were functional (I even could program some
sounds).  I was freaking out!

It even has a little onscreen keyboard for those without midi interfaces
(since I got the G4 I need to get a USB interface, my old one won't work
and nearly got one last night but the salesguy I was dealing with was such
a dweeb I couldn't even describe it: "you don't need to know that, this
one is the shit, just buy it okay?"  Me: "Bye!"  Dude: "Hey!  Where ya

So last night I found I could run FOUR of these at the same time.  I
then took the output into my vortex for some delay loops.  I'm not real
familiar with cubase but with this kind of power I may make a big shift
towards this DAW and virtual instruments.

I was being a big time geek, I had three set up on complementary bass
patches with the longest delay and release times I could find and I
was looping chimey bell like synth pads over the top of my bass drone.

Now, the demo version doesn't let you save anything (well, unless you
count using an external recorder!) and every 50 seconds it produces
what is supposed to be an annoying beep.  But with the looper
going the beeps almost sounded like it was part of a composed piece.

I guess Steinberg has a virtual drum machine too that's pretty amazing.
Check out www.steinberg.net, click on the VST Instruments pulldown menu
at the bottom of the page, click on the PPG Wave selection on the next
page and download the MP3 there....the tune is done all in the computer
with no external instruments.  The drums were a revelation too.  And as
everything was processed in the computer the sound quality was very 
pristine - no more hobbyist demo sounds I guess.

I was more than amazed - it appears that the future may lie in emulating
technologies that are either no longer produced or hard to get.  

I also found there are companies producing virtual Prophet 5's, and
now a Virtual B3 organ.  Weird.  I imagine running this stuff through
the VST effects (I'm thinking of pluggo's super long delay for looping)
then everything could be done in the digital domain with no loss of
sound quality.

Re-reading what I've just written reads like an advertisement but 
I was seriously impressed - check it out.  This could really change
the way people work.  I love hardware gear as much as anyone, but 
with a real PPG selling for $8,000 at one time, a $200 plug-in makes
using sounds that were once unavailable for the average joe much 
closer to the economic reality some musicians like myself face.

Oh, and no slagging on Gary Wright.  His intro to "dream weaver" many
years ago is what kinda encouraged me that looping drones might be 
a fun thing.  And he even appeared on the cheesy tv show "solid gold"
during the 80s with a giant modular synthesizer doing a pop ballad
in his post-dream weaver waning success.  Glad to see he's coming back.