"I was able to use it on the first track I tried it on - impressive considering I threw-up over the original instruments back in my drinking days."
Bernard Sumner (Joy Division, New Order, Electronic)
The modern, polyphonic string synthesizer was invented in 1970 by Ken Freeman, a British keyboard player and engineer who discovered that if you layered a note with another detuned and slightly modulated version of itself, a pleasant ‘chorused’ sound resulted.
Even though Ken's invention wasn't the first instrument of this genre to be commercially released (That honor fell to the Eminent organ company with their 310 Unique organ) there's little doubt that Ken's vision contributed immeasurably to electronic music over the next few decades in the guise of over 100+ different models that followed from a huge variety of manufacturers.
The VSM is an intuitive but highly powerful Virtual String Machine which captures many of the sounds from this genre of instrument, containing a wealth of sounds from a small mountain of classic and rare string machines. These range from the first commercial string ensembles (Eminent 310 & Freeman String Symphonizer) through to the highly lauded Solina, Elka Rhapsody, Logan String Melody, Korg PE2000 and many more.
With the sheer amount of instruments captured within the VSM, it's simplicity itself to recreate all those golden string machine tones from yesteryear. However, with the VSM's comprehensive, yet intuitive feature-set, plus a two-layer option it's now possible to create your own hybrid instruments taking these sublime vintage tones into hitherto unchartered territory.
Despite Ken Freeman inventing the entire String Machine instrument genre, the first commercial String Ensemble was the Eminent 310. This was a effectively a String Ensemble section housed within an organ and while Jean Michel Jarre made great use of this on his landmark Oxygene album, let’s face it, lugging around an organ - even in the super-kitch 70s - didn’t exactly do much for a musicians’ credibility rating.
Nonetheless, everyone wanted ‘that’ sound so enter the Solina String Ensemble, a dedicated String Machine made by none other than the aforementioned Eminent and shortly after release, re-badged as the ARP Solina.
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