Thursday, 19 February 2015

Korg (Keio) MiniPops 1

This is a odd one to categorize as it has no official name.
She looks like a minipops 5 (MP5). It's shape indicates that it was meant to sit under an organ or piano.
The MP5 was manufactured in 1966 as was the MP 7

Prior to the Mini Pops, Korg or Keio as it was known then, were famous for their Donca Matics.
So maybe this this could be called the Keio - Doncamatic Minipops. ???
Or shall it just be named "The Unnumbered MiniPop".????

And to make matters more confusing the MiniPop numbering system was not cronological.
The MP 5 & 7 came out in 1966.
The MP3 was manufactured in 1967.

Anyway, I think it's safe to assume that this drum was the first in the line of MiniPops, and was produced
in 1966 or before.

Temp, Cymbal & Switch-Volume dials. The Cymbal dial sets the volume level of the cymbal .... so you can cancel this sound completely if you like.

I really like the preset buttons which look like fake toy piano keys.
We have 16 patterns:
Waltz, Samba, Cha-Cha, Mambo, Rumba, Beguine, Habanera, Tango, Blues, Rock-Beat, Bossanova, Rock-a-Ballard, Swing, Six Eight, Fox Trot & March-Polka.

And you can combine up to 3 patterns at the one time.... creating some crazy rhythms

 The bottom cover slides off to reveal the inner PCBs.

We have 3 separate PCBs. The top is for the power supply.
The second (lower) PCB is the pattern generator. Notice the diodes.
The 3rd & largest PCB holds the voice circuits.

Well what does it sound like. It sounds nothing like a real drum. It's distorted . That bass drum is malformed beyond recognition. The snare and toms ... are they really toms ??? OMG.....well everything is twisted & misshaped. In other words I love this drum.

What was probably considered a mistake my the manufacturer makes this one a real find.

I'm seriously tempted to mod this one. The pattern board is at the top. I love the layout of these Japanese boards. They are logical & well thought out. It should be very easy to bypass the pattern PCB and trigger the voices directly.

I'll sit on that thought for a while. This drum is uber rare. It is good to sometimes leave things in virgin condition.

Modding ??? would be nice but maybe if I found a second one ....

For more info on the history of Korg Drum Machines Click Here

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Tower of Victory ("Vijay Stambha" in Hindi) - Chittorgarh Fort - Rahasthan - India

This tower which was built in 1449 is located in Chittorgarh fort in Rajasthan.
Google Map of Chittorgarh

Called the "Tower of Victory", it was built to commemorate the victory of king Rana Kumbha over the combined armies of Mewar and Gujarat in 1446. There are 9 stories. It's built of red sandstone & marble.
Though dedicated to the god Vishnu, it is adorned with statues of other Hindu gods.
It stands nearly 40 metres high.

Each story is adorned with beautiful sculptures of Hindu gods.

The 8th floor Terrace. The 9th floor is closed to tourists.

The interior staircase. There are around 157 narrow steps leading to the terrace.

Each of the nine stories have openings and balconies that overlook Chittorgarh Fort,

These designs are carved out of blocks of sandstone & marble.

 The lattice work is simply stunning.

If you wait patiently, a time will come when you are alone in this magical place.
It's like you are surrounded by jewels.

The "Tower of Victory" perpetuates the model established by the previous Jain Temple - the 13th century "Tower of Glory" that was built by a Jain merchant near the Mahariva temple.

The 13th century Jain Temple in Chittorgarh

Monday, 16 February 2015

Roland CompuRhythm CR-800 Drum Machine

This is a very very rare one.
It's a cross between the CR-68, a CR-78 and a floor speaker.

She has quite a beautiful wood veneer.

Roland produced a few upright drum machines:
++ Rhythm Ace FR-20 (Floor type)
++ Rhythm Ace FR-30 (Floor type)
++ Rhythm Ace FR-60 (Floor type)
++ Ace Tone Rhythm Ace FR-70 (upright drum machine)
 ++ CR-800 - very rare - upright drum housed in a speaker cabinet.

This standing upright configuration was common with companies such as Korg (eg: DA20 DoncaMatic rhythm machine), 

I understand that the CR-800 came out in the same year (1978) of the CR-68 & CR-78
The Roland CompuRhythm CR-68

It's nice to see all three drums together...... showing the evolution that was taking place during this important period in machine drum development. 

The CR-68 set the foundation. Though not programmable it had the same sounds & rhythm patterns as the CR-800 & CR-78 that were to follow.
The next step, the CR-800 had the same sounds as the 68 and was also not programmable. However, notice the change in the layout of the face. It's a 78 WITHOUT THE PROGRAMMER.
The evolution was complete with the CR-78. The sounds are still the same, and the face plate of the CR-800 has had its final makeover with the addition of the Programmer.

One interesting though superficial difference between the CR-800 & the CR-78 (apart from the rhythm programmer) is with the position of the accent & volume controls.

On the CR-800, the ACCENT is the top left slider & the VOLUME is the small knob to the left of the
Tempo knob. In the CR-78, these are reversed.
On a practical level these minor variations don't make a scrap of difference.

It's interesting to reflect that these three drums all came out in the same year of 1978.

Like the CR-68, this is not programmable. Rather we have preset patterns:
Disco 1,2
Waltz, Shuffle, Slow Rock, Swing, A-Foxtrot, B-Tango, Boogie, Enka, Bossa Nova, Samba,
A-Mambo, B-Cha Cha, A Begunie, B-Rhumba.

One question that I'd really like to have an answer to is why this drum is called the CR-800?
If it lies mid way between the CR68 & CR78 why not call it the CR-72.5 ???
Maybe, it was produced after the CR-78 and the designers decided to call it the CR-80 then added a zero to the end ??? Baffling !!!!

The only other Roland Drum with a built in speaker from this era (1973) is the TR-330
It's also unusual in that the drums before & after also only used two digits.

And one final possible reason could be that the designers tried to make a connection with the TR-808
which came out in 1980 or the CR-8000 that would follow in 1981.

The case reminds me of the early days of drum machines when they took centre stage in your living room or were used to accompany a live band. This was probably meant to stand next to your organ or piano.
Love the voice cancelling buttons ... Cymbal/High Hat, BD, Snare, Cow Bell/Claves.
I'm glad Roland kept this function in the CR-78

The Add voice sliders - from left -
CY, HH, Metalic Beat.

The speaker itself sounds cool. gives it a low-fi quality that i like.
There is however a speaker jack:

There is no way to sync this drum with external gear.
The CR-800 is too rare to mod. I think this beauty should be left as she is.

1. Operational Manual (Japanese only)
Roland - Support (Japan)
For more info on the history of Roland Drum Machines click here