A Bizarre Collection of Antiques and Curios
December 18, 2012 4:57 PM   Subscribe

Richard Wright & Pink Floyd - Keyboard, synthesizer & electronics equipment [pdf]. A comprehensive, detailed and readable analysis of the keyboards, synthesizers and assorted electronics used by Rick Wright, the other members of Pink Floyd and assorted studio and live accomplices.

This 38 page pdf begins with a brief chronological overview of the different equipment, followed by an album-by-album breakdown.

Next is 10 pages of detailed description and analysis of each piece of equipment, which unexpectedly ends up providing an interesting perspective on the history of Pink Floyd.

The document closes with 22 pages of photos, illustrating the various machines.

Recommended for Pink Floyd fans and keyboard boffins alike!

If 38 pages is too long, here's the tl;dr version (which is still quite lengthy - just less so).
posted by paleyellowwithorange (19 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Saucerful of Secrets.
posted by parki at 5:05 PM on December 18, 2012

A bit too long for me to take a run at right now, but sure to please Floydians everywhere!

According to Lillian Roxon's "Rock Encyclopedia," one Floyd member (I'm thinking Waters, but I could be wrong), played, of all things, a Beat Frequency Oscillator.
posted by dr. zoom at 5:12 PM on December 18, 2012

Given the state of Waters' relationship with Wright in 1979, I always thought the line, "I've got a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains" in The Wall's Nobody Home was a dig at Wright.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:44 PM on December 18, 2012

If you like early Floyd and have not seen Live at Pompeii, please run and do so now. It is really excellent.
posted by parki at 5:46 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is great and you are great.
posted by Jairus at 6:42 PM on December 18, 2012

So are there emulators for all this stuff? I don't have any MIDI gear, at least not yet, but it would be cool to be able to mess around with some of these instruments. I have a decent Moog emulator for the iPad (animoog?), so there's that.
posted by crapmatic at 7:54 PM on December 18, 2012

The funny thing is that technically Richard Wright's playing is not fancy or gimmicky, it's pretty straightforward. It's usually just a plain piano or organ part just playing chords without too much fuss involved. Sometimes these chords have interesting voicing. That's what makes him cool.
posted by ovvl at 8:01 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know what you're getting at, but he did come out with some pretty textured stuff as well. Yesterday I listened to Animals, and far out is that some amazing stuff he contributed! He didn't write any of the songs on that album, but he did arrange and play all the keyboard parts, and it's just another world of sound from, say, his simple piano bits on 'The Great Gig in the Sky' or 'Us and Them'.

I can listen to Animals over and over again, just for the keyboard playing. Which is funny, because it's such a punky, angry-guitar-sounding kind of album. But that's Rick - never standing out, but absolutely integral.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 8:15 PM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Richard Wright was always best behind a plain old piano. Great Gig in the Sky is a perfect example. It's a beautiful chord sequence.
posted by rocket88 at 8:37 PM on December 18, 2012

crapmatic - Yes, there are emulators or software versions available for most of the instruments detailed in the article. For example, Kontackt includes versions of many of them in the "Vintage" and "Retro Machines" sections.

Since Kontackt is a relatively comprehensive program aimed at pros & semi-pros, it's pricey, but there are competitors who make software versions of single instruments and/or smaller packages of selected sounds. Some are stand-alone software instruments, some are plug-ins.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 8:51 PM on December 18, 2012

To their own (and the audience’s) amusement, during the ‘performance’ of “On The Run” in 1987-89, the band blatantly left the Kurzweil playing the sequence on its own (with a red spotlight on it) while they disappeared from stage.

You can see why Kurzweil himself later came to believe that we are approaching a Singularity, where minds will be uploaded to machines.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:40 PM on December 18, 2012

I am somewhat ashamed to admit what I would have given up to have this document in high school.

No, actually I'm not.
posted by J.W. at 10:52 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's pretty amazing, isn't it? I found it by accident this morning, while looking for something else (guitar tabs for Animals), and I couldn't believe how detailed and interesting it was.

Just when you think you've read every angle on a band like Pink Floyd, the internet delivers original research.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:57 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's both very detail-obsessed and inaccurate, which is an odd combination. He calls the Prophet 5 an additive synth and implies the Minimoog is too, when they're both subtractive analog. Also he keeps calling it the Prophet V, which is just wrong and invites confusion with the Prophet VS which was a completely different machine. The name "Prophet 5" is printed right there above the keyboard and doesn't use a Roman numeral.

He keeps on writing Moog as MOOG, when it is the founder's last name, not an acronym like EMS.

Also, I thought the Floyd used a Polymoog in their prime, eg on Wish You Were Here? He doesnt mention it. That pad sound can't all be ARP Solina can it?
posted by w0mbat at 11:42 PM on December 18, 2012

Thanks for the clarification. I guess a few errors are bound to creep in, given the nature of the source material. From the last page:

The original draft of this document was based on a significant amount of information about the band's vintage equipment that was culled from the WatersFloyd.com website, where the content of posts submitted by Wrightkeys to the alt.music.pink-floyd online forum was reproduced, as well as information courtesy of Mr Mike Kiker. These web pages have since been removed, so no exact link can be given at present. Those looking for the original alt-music-pink-floyd posts may search them manually in Usenet archives. New posts can also be searched in http://forums.pinkfloyd.co.uk/.

When I first looked through it, I thought to myself, 'How do they know all this stuff?' Then I saw that it was crowd-sourced information, so I assumed that I'd have to take it all with a grain of salt - standard practice for random documents on the internet. But I still figured for a reasonable amount of accuracy.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 11:50 PM on December 18, 2012

There was a post here a couple of years ago to an archive of a 70's synth magazine; I bet they interviewed Wright at at some point. Those pieces tended to be gear-heavy in their questions........
posted by thelonius at 1:25 AM on December 19, 2012

The funny thing is that technically Richard Wright's playing is not fancy or gimmicky, it's pretty straightforward.

Straightforward and intensely musical. Same applies to all the other members.

The thing that's always struck me about good Floyd material is the feeling of inevitability - it's as if somebody would always have needed to put that collection of sounds together in just that way, which makes it all the more remarkable that only Pink Floyd ever actually did so.

That feeling is strongest for me in Dark Side (which came out when I was 11) and Meddle/Pompeii (which I didn't run across until much later). It's pretty much completely dried up by The Wall, by which time Roger has completely lost the plot and started churning out an endless raft of big bombastic Webber-esque show tunes (something something become the thing you hate something something).

Time again to go watch and listen to four remarkable young men do nothing fancy at length.
posted by flabdablet at 4:55 AM on December 19, 2012

Any thoughts on Wright's solo material? According to Wiki, he cut two albums under his own name and recorded one more as part of a band called Zee...
posted by dr. zoom at 9:23 AM on December 19, 2012

I bought Broken China in May last year, and gave it a good listen at the time, and from time to time I still listen to it or bits of it, since it remains part of my collection. I think I've given it a good chance, but I've had to conclude: it's quite forgettable. I'm looking at the tracklisting, and I couldn't tell you how any of the songs go.

Have you heard The Division Bell? I love that album, but Rick's song 'Wearing the Inside Out', while lyrically emotionally compelling, is probably the weakest track on the album (compared with stuff like 'Poles Apart' or 'Lost for Words'). Anyway, the songs on Broken China are like pale reproductions of 'Wearing the Inside Out'. And there's no David Gilmour to rescue them, musically.

When I think of Broken China, all that comes to mind is Rick's mournful voice. I bought the album because I read that he'd produced it immediately following the Division Bell tour, and I thought, 'Hey, perhaps he was still on a roll.' But no. It's a difficult slog to get through. Very repetitive sounding. Lyrically, it's a concept album about his wife's mental illness, and it's rather harrowing as a result. About the only breaths of fresh air come in Sinéad O'Connor's two vocals. But even these are immediately forgettable.

Sorry Rick. You were a great collaborator. But never a frontman.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 2:21 PM on December 19, 2012

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