Yonin Bayashi and Roland SH-5 which supported the early days of Japanese progressive rock
Roland, the leader of Japanese synthesizers. Like last time, this time I will steer away from polyphonic synthesizers, and will talk about the music of the early days of domestic synthesizers and the Roland SH-5 monophonic (single note) synthesizer that I used for the first time.
I first got the Roland SH-5 in 1977. The synthesizers of choice at the time were the SH-5 and Korg's 800DV. The Korg 800DV was duophonic (two notes) and had excellent sound. The lower level model was the Mini Korg 700S, which Hiroyuki Namba still uses. A model with only one oscillator (transmitter) called the SH-3 was released as a lower level model of the Roland SH-5. I also used the SH-3, but it goes without saying that sound of the SH-5 was thicker than the SH-3 with only one oscillator. I chose the SH-5 because of its shape, which included a panel that looks like a synthesizer. I think the SH-5, which has a well-organized signal flow, was an easy-to-understand teaching unit for learning the "what is" of a synthesizer.
The basic concept of a synthesizer is as simple as passing the oscillating sound (VCO) through a filter (VCF) and outputting it to an amplifier (VCA). ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) that controls the rise and decay of the sound, and LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) that applies vibrato and tremolo to the sound are included as elements of sound creation. This is the essence of sound creation for synthesizers.
Korg 700 (Mini Korg)
From the mid to late 1970s, the under1 synthesizer was a difficult instrument that become the center of band ensembles. Because the synthesizers at that time could only emit a single note. If you get 6 or 12 notes, you can play an ensemble as a keyboard instrument, but not so with a single note. However, many rock masterpieces were born in this era – for example, Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon" and YES’s "Close to the Edge". The 1974 "Dark Side of the Moon" has the impression that synthesizers are used abundantly, but that is not the focus. They’re used effectively by holding down the points. And their usage is wonderful. These albums may be a good example of how humans can exert their tremendous imagination within limited constraints.
The well-known Japanese prog rock group that created "Golden Picnics" was also born in the 70's!
At that time, synthesizers were dream machines that were said to be able to make any sound. There is no sound that synthesizers cannot make, and it was thought that synthesizers could produce sounds that had never been heard before. On the other hand, these were the only marketing possibilities on the sales side. However, the sound of the synthesizer helped to accentuate and create the mood of the music, and there was no doubt that it reflected the breath of a new era in the music. Yonin Bayashi, categorized as Japanese progressive rock, was also a representative band for creating up-and-coming music. According to interviews with the members, they were not aware of progressive rock and were a band oriented towards colorful pop music. You can understand what I mean by listening to the second album "Golden Picnics".
■ Japanese rock masterpiece "Golden Picnics" (1976) / Yonin Bayashi
This is the second album from Yonin Bayashi, which followed "Isshoku Sokuhatsu" which I introduced last time. This album also uses a synthesizer that seems to be SH-5. It has a more colorful impression than "Isshoku Sokuhatsu", and there are songs that sound like a toy box turned upside down. Especially, "Nasu no Chawanyaki" is a good example. Other must-listens include "Carnival is coming-Fly to Paris bastard Jamaica", "Oyogu na Nessie" and "Lady Violetta". The synthesizer is an important accent in many songs, and it perfectly complements Yonin Bayashi’s music.
Recommended song: "Nasu no Chawanyaki"
When Rainbow, led by Ritchie Blackmore, came to Japan, Yonin Bayashi acted as the undercard. Ritchie and Rainbow members were most interested in "Nasu no Chawayaki". The theme of "Nasuno Chawanyaki" is a recorder played by Masahide Sakuma (B). The SH-5 solo played by Hidemi Sakashita is wonderful. An uncertain pitch solo that makes good use of portamento time (the time to change the pitch seamlessly between notes) has changed the concept of synthesizer solos. In the live show I saw, Sakashita performed a similar solo on the SH-5. This synth solo is a must listen.
Recommended song: "Oyogu na Nessie"
A masterpiece by Hidemi Sakashita. I covered "Oyogu na Nessie" when I was in college. A magnificent suite with a spacious ballad. In the middle of the song, the SH-5 produces a sound effect (vibrato) that maximizes the oscillator modulation value and changes the LFO speed. This is a sound effect that uses the characteristics of the SH-5's LFO, and when I first heard it, the effect was amazing, so I was very surprised. Please listen to it. You’ll laugh. In addition, you’ll also hear a sound effect (groll effect) that controls the speed of the LFO by fully increasing the VCF modulation. This is a synth sound that can be easily reproduced on the SH-5. Our band, which was technically immature, was able to perfectly copy only Nessie's sound effects (lol). It's only natural because it was the same model as the synthesizer I was using.
Recommended song: "Lady Violetta"
The song that inspired guitarist Katsutoshi Morizono to leave Yonin Bayashi (as I imagine it). This song was used as the last title of All Night Nippon and became famous. A masterpiece that reflects the tastes of Morizono at that time. I think he wanted to create a band to play this kind of song. In fact, after making this album, Morizono will join the jazz fusion band "Prism". As a vocal fan of Morizono, I was a little disappointed. After that, Morizono released a solo album called "4:17" and performed a wonderful vocal. This album is also wonderful. It will also be introduced in a later column.
Musicians, albums, recommended songs, keyboards used this time
- Artist: Yonin Bayashi / Hidemi Sakashita, Katsutoshi Morizono
- Album: "Golden Picnics"
- Song titles: "Nasu no Chawanyaki" "Oyogu na Nessie" "Lady Violetta"
- Instruments used: Hammond Organ, Minimoog, SH-5, Fender Rhodes