Korg founder Tsutomu Katoh has died of cancer.
March 15, 2011 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Korg founder Tsutomu Katoh has died of cancer. Korg has been an enormously influential maker of electronic musical instruments as well as tools like tuners and metronomes. There has rarely been a time when I've been involved in making music without some sort of Korg gear around. Tsutomu will be missed by many.

Article in Japanese that google has a very hard time translating. As far as I can tell, his death was not a result of the recent earthquake.
posted by b1tr0t (39 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble


Thanks for the Wavedrum, more fun than I deserve.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:22 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Every Apple user knows the startup "BONG!" but they do not know from whence it came.

Thanks for the synthBONG!s Tsutomu Katoh. Godspeed.
posted by basicchannel at 8:26 PM on March 15, 2011

*may not know... dont want to be presumptuous.
posted by basicchannel at 8:26 PM on March 15, 2011

my monotron gently weeps
posted by pyramid termite at 8:29 PM on March 15, 2011

Electribe salute when I get home then...
posted by pompomtom at 8:30 PM on March 15, 2011

I <3 my Korg MS2000.
posted by Ardiril at 8:31 PM on March 15, 2011


I miss my Korg MS2000 desperately, so instead I shall play an anthem on my Microkorg.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:33 PM on March 15, 2011

There's a Korg Wavestation in our practice room right now that originally retailed for some thing like $1800 that we found at Goodwill for $29.99. Still has the Goodwill price tag on it. Amazing machine with limitless possibilities.

So for making a device that to a Goodwill clerk is indistinguishable from a crappy Casio, I say thank you Mr. Katoh and

posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:34 PM on March 15, 2011 [6 favorites]

I saw Korg gear in use on all my favorite music shows when I lived in Bosnia. Had excellent sound.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:46 PM on March 15, 2011

Those Korg Vocoders in the 70's were the snazzle!

Thank you Katoh-San.

posted by djrock3k at 8:46 PM on March 15, 2011

I once had a Korg drum machine I struggled with mightily for years programming it, and re-programming it and taking it to shows and praying to God it wouldn't blank out the songs I'd programmed into it during a set while on the stage. It was a difficult drum machine to program and make sound like a somewhat conventional drumkit. It had so many over-produced sounding snares and kick drums and all manner of weird China cymbals that were useless and people would say "Why don't you get the Yamaha drum machine..." and I said "no...no...don't need the Yamaha drum machine..."

posted by Skygazer at 9:00 PM on March 15, 2011

Thank you for saying that he died, and not that he "passed". A man is not a fart.

I still hope to own a Korg MS-20 before I die. Godspeed you resonant lowpass filter emperor.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:12 PM on March 15, 2011 [8 favorites]

.... .... .... ....

(^ Four on the floor ^)

I have a Korg NanoControl on my desk lent to me by a friend. It's a fantastic little piece of gear and makes a decent DAW or Mixer control, or DJ interface surface.
posted by loquacious at 9:13 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Interesting fact - he's sampled on the Gorillaz track "Doncamatic," named after Korg's early drum machine. He's the guy at the beginning saying the name.
posted by nwatson at 9:22 PM on March 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

My first hardware synth, all of 13 years ago, was a Korg X5D. Even though it was a modest rompler, even by the standards of the time (non-resonant filter (!), no sequencer or arp, etc.), and the piano presets sounded like a Kawai on speed, it was still a solid introduction to the world of synth programming. I should thank (or curse it, perhaps) for when programmed to its fullest, it managed to hint at what a synthesizer with a non-lame architecture *could* sound like. To this day, I still have samples of it - I somehow ended up coaxing patches out of it that enabled covers of Talking Heads, Spahn Ranch, and Market tracks that worked well enough when proper workstations or analog synths were way out of the price range of a hobbyist college student.

So thank you, Mr. Katoh, for giving me the tool that kicked off a lifetime fascination with that most ancient and most intriguing of Japanese instruments - the synthesizer. :)
posted by gyges at 9:30 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Most of my gear is Korg stuff. First the DS-20 emulator for the Nintendo DS, then the Electribe EMX-1, then the KP3. Their stuff is always amazingly fun to play with, and have brought me solace on many sleepless nights when I just want to get lost in the sounds I make.
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posted by hellojed at 9:37 PM on March 15, 2011 [10 favorites]

posted by solarion at 9:41 PM on March 15, 2011

posted by Goofyy at 9:57 PM on March 15, 2011

Yes, KORG has produced some great electronic instruments over the years, they've been a very creative company. I've been using their incredibly expressive WaveDrum (the first one, that is, came out in the 90s - unfortunately the new remake is but a pale shadow of the original) for years now, and, yeah, it's really something. Still unsurpassed in the world of electronic percussion: nothing else has come close.

I also used their excellent Electribe drum machine for a number of years, when I was really into more of a programming/electronica kind of thing. It sounded good, and had a lot of good functions, especially for live use. the icy-cool drum sounds on this track were all from the Electribe.

More recently, I picked up one of their delightful little MONOTRON synths. Fits in your shirt pocket, sounds unbelievably fat. Aside from cortex's drums and my vocal, the tiny MONOTRON is responsible for all the sounds you hear in this little number.

RIP, Katoh-san.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:01 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

KORG Poly 61-M.

That is all. Except this.

Android dreams of electric sheep.

Amen. And God bless you, Tsutomu Katoh.

So long and thanks for all the fzzzzzzzzzznnwanhwanhwanhwanhwanhbeeDAHbeeDAHbeeDAHwoowoowoowooweeweeweeOOOOHAAAAOOOOAAAAAOOOOAAAAA.

You made me all the human I am today.
posted by Mike Mongo at 10:03 PM on March 15, 2011

posted by BillBishop at 10:36 PM on March 15, 2011

This is unfortunate.

The Korg KARMA was the first synthesizer I ever owned. It is an awesome burgundy beast.
posted by Redfield at 10:44 PM on March 15, 2011

My Kaossilator, Monotron, KP-3, and Kaossilator Pro all send their condolences. I feel even more responsible now to learn how to use them all better.

posted by bashos_frog at 11:17 PM on March 15, 2011

The only company to release software that did component-level simulation of their real analog synths, which is how they released excellent MS-20 emulators for Mac, Win, iPad and Nintendo DS. Even better their virtual Korg Mono/Poly for Mac & Win, was a perfect emulation of what was the best sounding Korg analog synth (due to the 24 db filter, proper envelopes and sheer quantity of oscillators when in mono mode).

Sadly they seem to have discontinued all their software except for the stuff on iPad and Nintendo.

Anyway, you made great tech Katoh-San and you will be missed.
posted by w0mbat at 12:39 AM on March 16, 2011

Also, FWIW Korg has owned the Vox guitar amplifier company since 1992.
posted by lordrunningclam at 4:26 AM on March 16, 2011

The Korg DS-10 Plus for the DS is my favorite game system soft-synth. I guess
its mainly do to the interface actually making sense compared to Nanoloop. Nanoloop was a step softsynth for the Game Boy and had a complete trainwreck of a GUI.

If you want here's a little humorous video about the DS-10 Plus to break up the sadness.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 5:00 AM on March 16, 2011

My Korg M1 opened up many doors in my life. It was my first professional synth and I recorded the audition tape that got me into the fancy post-secondary recording production course in my neck of the woods.

I think I'll go give it a hug...

posted by No more Mr. Smartypants at 5:02 AM on March 16, 2011

My Z1 is weeping.

posted by mkb at 5:31 AM on March 16, 2011

posted by Smart Dalek at 5:43 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Sadly they seem to have discontinued all their software

I don't think this is the case - in fact they have changed the pricing to make the instruments more accessible than ever:

Go get 'em!

They are branded as the "Legacy" line - could this have led to the idea that they're discontinued?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:03 AM on March 16, 2011

We have a 1977 Mini-Korg sitting in our living room right now. And it still works fantastically.
posted by kimdog at 7:14 AM on March 16, 2011

posted by reductiondesign at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2011


Thanks for my Micro-Korg. Love that thing.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 AM on March 16, 2011

MS 10


(Oh, and the TU-12 tuner - I bought mine in 1984. The only tuner I've ever had that I really trusted.)
posted by Grangousier at 9:34 AM on March 16, 2011

When I got my Nintendo DSi, the KORG DS10+ was one of the first things on my list of software to get for it.

Thanks, Tsutomu.
posted by mysterpigg at 10:11 AM on March 16, 2011

posted by cosmac at 11:08 AM on March 16, 2011

Time to fire up the MonoPoly once more and gaze at the arpeggiator lights in a darkened room. Thank you Tsutomu Katoh, your products made a lot of people very happy
posted by fallingbadgers at 1:19 PM on March 16, 2011



Much Korg equipment in my house. For years I wouldn't leave home without an Electribe. (Well, my R3 was a dud and never worked properly but anyone can have a bad day...)

Thanks for some amazing sounds, Katoh-San.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:06 AM on March 17, 2011

I don't think this is the case - in fact they have changed the pricing to make the instruments more accessible than ever

Cool! All the other online retailers have the stuff marked as "discontinued" and don't mention that you can still get it direct from Korg as a download.
posted by w0mbat at 10:15 AM on April 15, 2011

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