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Farfisa switch-off effect — how does it sound?

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  • Farfisa switch-off effect — how does it sound?

    Hey everybody,

    I have a Farfisa question, and I thought that this might be the best place on the internet to ask it! I'm a fan of Sun Ra, and know that he used a Farfisa organ extensively, but I've never really been able to pinpoint the specific keyboard sounds in his recordings. I was wondering if any kind Farfisa owners could help me out with this one?

    I was reading a book recently (Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds that Launched Rock Music by Lenhoff & Robertson), and it said that there were some "special effects" on the Farfisa, one of which was "holding down some keys while turning off the organ, sent the pitch soaring skyward in a whimsical way, a kind of electronic joke." This makes me wonder whether some sounds on Sun Ra records that I've assumed were synthesizers were actually a Farfisa: in particular, the sliding effects on Rocket #9, the last track on Space is the Place, sounds like it could be this effect, going by the description. Video here (edit: the clearest place to hear it as from 2:35 onward, right at the end of the track):



    I've looked all over YouTube, but can't find anybody demonstrating the switch-off effect on a Farfisa. Can anybody who owns one confirm or deny that this is what it sounds like? Would be much appreciated, and would save me going to buy one myself to find out! (But on second thoughts, maybe that wouldn't be so bad...)

    Thanks all.



    Last edited by SunRaFarfisa; 11-22-2021, 04:26 AM.
  • Answer selected by Admin at 11-23-2021, 06:24 AM.

    Originally posted by SunRaFarfisa View Post
    Hey everybody,

    I was reading a book recently (Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds that Launched Rock Music by Lenhoff & Robertson), and it said that there were some "special effects" on the Farfisa, one of which was "holding down some keys while turning off the organ, sent the pitch soaring skyward in a whimsical way, a kind of electronic joke." This makes me wonder whether some sounds on Sun Ra records that I've assumed were synthesizers were actually a Farfisa: in particular, the sliding effects on Rocket #9, the last track on Space is the Place, sounds like it could be this effect, going by the description.
    I wrote that statement in Classic Keys about the Farfisa Combo Compact, so I thought I'd check out the video. I don't know how to describe the Farfisa sound in words better than the vague description I used in the book (nor do I have a Combo Compact to post a recording), but that Sun Ra sound is definitely not the Farfisa turn-off sound. The Farfisa sound is much thinner, and only lasts a second or two. (Although I have heard of people who love that sound so much, they have added mods that increase the duration of the sound slightly.) Sun Ra's creativity knew no bounds, and deciphering what sorts of instruments and devices he used to create unusual sounds is definitely beyond my pay grade. But I applaud you for trying. (And if you haven't discovered it yet, Chapter 9 is devoted to the Gibson G-101, the combo organ Sun Ra called his "Solar Sounds Organ.")

    I hope you're enjoying Classic Keys. David and I each invested about seven years of our life in that project.

    Alan

    Comment


    • #2
      I only have a Compact Duo, but it doesn't make any sounds like that when switched off. The sounds I hear on that track are too sustained for it to be a switch-off sound on anything I've heard. Maybe there's some trick I'm not aware of, but synths like the Minimoog and others were available by the time this recording was made.

      It's possible that some later models of Farfisa using IC master oscillators had some kind of pitch-bend function.
      I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

      Comment


      • #3
        Some of the Farfisa portables had a socket for a Slalom Pedal, which dropped the pitch by an octave. Of course, if you started with the pedal set an octave down and played an octave higher than normal, you could get a slalom upwards by pulling back on the pedal.

        This isn't the best video example, and it's not an original Farfisa pedal, but you get the idea.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGKaYBRKHKk
        It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

        New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

        Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
        Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
        Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
        Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

        Comment


        • #4
          Originally posted by SunRaFarfisa View Post
          Hey everybody,

          I was reading a book recently (Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds that Launched Rock Music by Lenhoff & Robertson), and it said that there were some "special effects" on the Farfisa, one of which was "holding down some keys while turning off the organ, sent the pitch soaring skyward in a whimsical way, a kind of electronic joke." This makes me wonder whether some sounds on Sun Ra records that I've assumed were synthesizers were actually a Farfisa: in particular, the sliding effects on Rocket #9, the last track on Space is the Place, sounds like it could be this effect, going by the description.
          I wrote that statement in Classic Keys about the Farfisa Combo Compact, so I thought I'd check out the video. I don't know how to describe the Farfisa sound in words better than the vague description I used in the book (nor do I have a Combo Compact to post a recording), but that Sun Ra sound is definitely not the Farfisa turn-off sound. The Farfisa sound is much thinner, and only lasts a second or two. (Although I have heard of people who love that sound so much, they have added mods that increase the duration of the sound slightly.) Sun Ra's creativity knew no bounds, and deciphering what sorts of instruments and devices he used to create unusual sounds is definitely beyond my pay grade. But I applaud you for trying. (And if you haven't discovered it yet, Chapter 9 is devoted to the Gibson G-101, the combo organ Sun Ra called his "Solar Sounds Organ.")

          I hope you're enjoying Classic Keys. David and I each invested about seven years of our life in that project.

          Alan
          Co-author, "Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music."
          See a preview: ClassicKeysBook.com
          Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/ClassicKeysBook/
          Buy it now: www.amazon.com/dp/1574417762

          Comment


          • #5
            Wow, thanks for the responses here. This is all incredible helpful.

            David, thanks for confirming that this isn't a Farfisa compact. It's really useful to have some input from an owner, and that's exactly the sort of info I was hoping for.

            Andy, that slalom sound is incredibly interesting, and I bet it's popped up in all sorts of obscure places (and confused for all sorts of other instruments when it does). Completely unlike anything I would have ever associated with the Farfisa brand, that's for sure. I'll keep an ear out for it in future. Thanks for sharing.

            Alan, thanks for your input here. I certainly didn't expect to hear back from the author I was quoting! Classic Keys is really excellent: beautifully written and executed, the photos and formatting are exceptional. Seven years well spent I'd say. I wasn't aware that Sun Ra had used a Gibson organ too, so thank you for that info. I'll check out chapter 9 now. Sounds like the job of working out what's what on his records is going to involve a lifetime of listening—not such a bad thing!

            Thanks again for the comments and insights, everybody.






            Comment


            • #6
              Originally posted by SunRaFarfisa View Post
              Alan, thanks for your input here. I certainly didn't expect to hear back from the author I was quoting! Classic Keys is really excellent: beautifully written and executed, the photos and formatting are exceptional. Seven years well spent I'd say. I wasn't aware that Sun Ra had used a Gibson organ too, so thank you for that info. I'll check out chapter 9 now. Sounds like the job of working out what's what on his records is going to involve a lifetime of listening—not such a bad thing!
              Thanks for the kind words about Classic Keys. On his '69 album Atlantis, Sun Ra is credited with playing two instruments: "Solar Sound Organ" (that's the Gibson) and "Solar Sound Instrument" (a Hohner Clavinet, the focus of chapter 11 in Classic Keys).

              Good luck with your explorations!

              Alan
              Co-author, "Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music."
              See a preview: ClassicKeysBook.com
              Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/ClassicKeysBook/
              Buy it now: www.amazon.com/dp/1574417762

              Comment

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