MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) has been around for over 20 years. At first no one knew what to do with it. Then there was an explosion of MIDI music during the late 80’s and early 90’s. During the early days of MIDI the Yamaha DX7 was the keyboard of choice. It was digital and produced sound using FM (frequency modulated) synthesis. It couldn’t produce an exact piano sound, but we all thought it was close. Probably the DX7’s best remembered sound was its Electric Piano, that was supposed to be a Rhodes electric piano. FM synthesis has a harsher dirtier sound, unique, and very different from earlier analog synthesizers. Then came the Kurzweil 250, the first digital sampler keyboard. I was actually at the NAMM show and in the demo room when it was introduced. And when we heard the Kurzweil Piano sound everyone’s jaw hit the floor. It was apparent from that demonstration that not only were all current digital products obsolete, so were the acoustic instruments. The K-250 was expensive, but later the Korg M-1 put digital sampling into the hands of the average keyboardist. The M-1 was the last killer keyboard, after that they were all just more of the same. Like the Hammond B-3 the Kurzweil K-250 and the Korg M-1 changed everything.
Native Instruments FM7, a virtual DX7
The B4 is a virtual Hammond B3
Today the shift is towards Virtual (soft) Instruments. Instruments that live in the computer that emulate other instruments. The fast growing virtual instrument industry has taken on the hardware based instruments with great success. Music hardware companies like Yamaha have taken notice of this trend and are now investing heavily in virtual instruments.
Today most of the popular keyboards of the past are now available as virtual instruments. For example you can still get the DX7 sound with Native Instruments FM7. They have made many virtual instruments from popular keyboards of the past including the B4 a virtual B-3, Electrik Piano a virtual Rhoades, and Pro-53 a virtual Prophet 5. Korg has brought back the M1 in a virtual version. Professional musicians are discovering the power and versatility of these virtual instruments. If this can be done with the B3, why not the Mighty Wurtlitzer Theatre Organ?
Read about the Miditzer Virtual Theatre Organ...