Jul 222017

Former Korg engineer, Tatsuya Takahashi’s Monologue, featuring full-keyboard microtuning (Scala SCL/MTS formats)

Of potential interest to microtonal music and technology enthusiasts, is a recent discussion, in the form of an interview published on the Warp Records’, Item, section of their site, between Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) and Tatsuya Takahashi (former Korg engineer of the microtunable Monologue, now advisor).

ITEM • Richard D. James speaks to Tatsuya Takahashi

In many ways, this is the Aphex Twin interview I’ve been hoping to read for some time, because one of the central topics discussed here are music technologies that feature full-keyboard microtuning and his approach to the topic. It was also very interesting to learn from this article the influence that RDJ had on the microtuning implementation of the Korg Monologue.

Like lots of colleagues involved in the field of xenharmonic and microtonal music, I first became aware of Aphex Twin’s use of microtunings on his seminal record, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II (1994), so it’s extremely fascinating to get some deeper details about his methods, and in particular his use of Manuel Op de Coul’s excellent Scala, the freeware microtuning application we all know and love, and which happens to be a topic of frequent focus on the pages of Xen-Arts. Clearly microtuning is a central feature of his work, as its use is evident as well on the recent record, AFX ‎– London 03.06.17, also on Warp Records (WAP400).

I thought the comment in the article about hardware FM synths lacking filters was very interesting (although some astute readers will be aware that the Yamaha SY series had them), and having owned a couple of Yamaha TX81Zs and a TX802 back in the day, it’s something I have long ago found deep resonance with, and have only been able to address the issue on a personal level with the custom-built microtonal FM VSTi on offer here at Xen-Arts, that not only feature filters, but which importantly, can also be audio-rate modulated with high-precision partials-file controlled oscillator sources, an application which can be used for generating microtuning related sideband spectra were needed. It’s a synthesis technique of great utility really.

The likelihood of seeing this type of spectral-microtuning audio-rate modulated filters design on a modern hardware FM synth would seem highly improbable in our 12-locked technological times, although on the other hand, it’s extremely exciting to see any kind of hardware based full-keyboard microtuning implementation taking shape these days, such as in the case of the great Dave Smith Instruments line (MTS), and the above discussed Korg Monologue (also MTS capable).

From Synthtopia:

Korg Monologue Intro, With Chief Engineer Tatsuya Takahashi

Aphex Twin Site:

Aphex Twin

Scala by Manuel Op de Coul:


 Posted by at 12:44 pm

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