Roger Joseph Manning Jr.

Our friend Roger Joseph Manning Jr. doing rock stuff with the Kurzweil Forte! We've been fans of all of Roger's work, from Jellyfish, Air, and Beck, to Moog Cookbook, Imperial Drag, and his recent work with Morrissey. Check out Roger's new power-pop project, with former Jellyfish members Tim Smith and Eric Dover, the Lickerish Quartet! 

Revamped Electric Pianos FREE For ALL Forte Owners  

WEISERSOUND EP PACK

 

We’re pleased to offer a set of twelve new EP programs for the Kurzweil Forte featuring five Rhodes and seven Wurlitzers. As a gesture of gratitude to Kurzweil Music Systems and the online Kurzweil community, we’re making this set FREE of charge for all Forte owners. Thanks and enjoy!

 

Revisited

 

Ten of the twelve sounds are updated versions of my programs in the Forte factory ROM (clearly re-named). When I worked on the original factory EPs, the samples were completely new to me, totally unfamiliar, plus we were on a deadline. After a few years of banging on them furiously, listening and then banging some more, I managed to pinpoint a few areas where significant improvements could be made.  

 

Improved Feel

 

The original purpose of this project was to introduce a more realistic touch response for Rhodes and Wurlitzer programs. These programs should respond much more like the real thing. In most cases this means that the softest strikes, while timbrally different, will be a good bit closer in volume to the hardest strikes than they are on the factory programs. This added realism in feel encourages playing that should in turn help to enhance the realism of what listeners hear.

 

One quick way to get a sense of how the programs respond is the simplest of exercises: play a steady stream of repeated 8th notes while changing dynamics. Try gradual increases from softest to hardest, try some extreme/abrupt jumps between hard and soft. Single notes up high, triads right around middle C, and left hand octaves in the C2- C3 range all work well.

 

Modeling by Hand

 

In addition to improving the feel I was also able to liven up the EPs with Kurzweil's powerful V.A.S.T. 32-layer synthesis architecture. 

 

The Forte’s multi-GB, non-looped, high quality samples are of course the foundation of these programs. But alongside those samples are ten or more layers that emulate the various mechanical thumps, squeaks and extra harmonics that give these classic instruments their character sound. 

 

These extra, imperfect sonic components are quite noticeable in recordings like Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock and Ray Charles’s What’d I Say. In the Forte I recreated these quirks using an assortment of samples combined with Kurzweil DSP synthesis tools. Shapers can morph a celesta sample into a metallic "clang", filters that open up upon key release can emulate the slight buzz of tines/reeds just as they’re muted by dampers, and Timbre-Shift can allow a gunshot sample to enhance the smack of a neoprene hammer.

 

Each of these extra synthesis layers responds to touch differently, and most are also slightly randomized. THIS is key. Hit a note ten times in a row and the mechanical thumps and release squeaks will be slightly different each time. With sample-only emulations, the mechanical noises are “built-in”, they’re always going to trigger at the same velocity, at the same volume relative to the main pitched component. This can lead to a same-ness, a “clicky” quality that our brains will fairly quickly identify as fake. (It’s called the Uncanny Valley effect, much has been written on the subject.)

 

Both the improved touch feedback and the re-created physical noises should impart a sense of realism that makes these sounds both fun and effective. 

 

Special Thanks

 

Special thanks to my former Kurzweil R&D colleague and vintage keys hardware expert Rob Currier. His work with velocity response on EP programs was truly amazing, and was the inspiration for this project. Be sure to check out Rob’s company, Retroaktiv for all manner of analog and modular goodness. 

 

 

CONTACT and we'll send the file 

 

 

NEW: ENDORSING ARTISTS

 

We're thrilled to announce our first two Weisersound endorsing artists for Kurzweil products, Jim Alfredson and Frank Lucas! Jim and Frank will be releasing high quality demo videos for the flagship Forte and for the low-cost/lightweight SP6. Both guys will be making their units available for customer auditons as schedules permit. Jim is in Lansing, Frank is in Chicago. Anyone interested, shoot us a message and we'll set something up.

 

Jim Alfredson

Jim Alfredson has performed and toured with major jazz artists like Bob James, Eric Marienthal, James Carter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Fareed Haque, and drummer Harvey Mason. Other credits include high profile blues acts Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy and Grammy-nominated singer Janiva Magness, with whom he toured 2010 to 2014.

 

Known for his Hammond organ work across genres, Jim has recorded several albums with his own bands that have received popular and critical acclaim, including jazz soul trio Organissimo and keys-driven progressive rock band, THEO

 

Based in his hometown of Lansing MI, Jim consults for several major keyboard manufacturers and has been a Hammond Organ USA Artist since 2007.

 

"Combine Alfredson's knack for choosing just the right color and tone in any given composition with his colleagues' ability to match his gestures, and you have one of the most promising organ trios in jazz." ~ Chicago Tribune

 

“Jim Alfredson is a remarkable organist who seamlessly synthesizes several generations of keyboard influences.” ~ James Hale, Downbeat Magazine

 

Frank Lucas

Frank Lucas is a Chicago-based keyboardist/composer whose background is in classical piano and voice. Frank has performed and recorded with the likes of Pat Metheny Group drummer Paul Wertico, bassist Andy West of the Dixie Dregs, guitarists Paul Chapman (U.F.O.), Neil Zaza and Michael Angelo, Journey's Steve Augeri, as well as acclaimed violinists Rachel Barton and Edgar Gabriel (Cirque Du Soleil). 

 

Most recently, Frank has recorded with progressive rock power-quartet, The Cyberiam, featuring Keith Semple (NBC's The Voice, Season 9). Other recent credits include Fire Garden, Brandi, Malik Yusef, Jennifer Lopez, Haley Reinhart, Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child, Twista and legendary rockers, War and Dee Snider.

 

Frank has released two albums on the Tonepainter Music label, A Little Secret, a collection of solo piano pieces with a varitey of guest artists, and Christmas Is... featuring jazz trio interpretations of Christmas classics.

 

Bruce Bears

Blues and Jazz stalwart Bruce Bears is currently playing and recording with world renowned guitarist Duke Robillard and appears on his 2007 and 2010 Grammy Nominated CDs "Guitar Groove-a-Rama" (Stony Plain), and "Stomp the Blues Tonight"(Stony Plain) as well as the majority of his recordings and projects since 2007.  Bruce has also played keyboards with a myriad of Blues, Soul and Jazz artists for the past 30+ years, including:  Gospel Icon Mavis Staples, Raw Bluesman "Big Jack" Johnson, Soul Master Little Milton Campbell, Blues Master Joe Louis Walker, Uptown Blues and Soul Queen of Boston Ms. Toni Lynn Washington, Susan Tedeschi, masterful songwriter and soulful singer Martin Sexton, Jon Pousette-Dart, Sherman Robertson, Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray Norcia, J. Geils, James Harman, singer-songwriter Mark Erelli,  Nicole Nelson, Junior Watson, Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson, "Sax" Gordon Beadle, Amyl Justin and Kid Bangham, producer/percussionist Lorne Entress, Sonya Rae Taylor, Mike Tucker, Scott Hamilton and many others. Bruce's skills as a keyboardist and musician are as diverse as they are in demand.