It might be a 1978 creation, but in its authentic reboot, the Sequential Prophet-5 still has sonic territory to discover. We turn to our friend Chris Stack of ExperimentalSynth to take us to those outer worlds.
That Prophet-5 has already been a hot item in the second half of 2020 – not only with people who know the instrument’s history, but people finding it anew. The Sequential approach – put the best of all revisions in this model, add the new Dave Rossum filters, turn to authentic components, and make an accurate but modern instrument – seems timely, even in the age of clones. So here we are, the 2020 “rev4.”
Now, Chris has a head start on all of us, because he’s been beta-testing the instrument. And he’s the sort of synthesist we count on to illustrate how to expand possibilities.
So, let’s check in on those experiments…
First up – yes, of course, you can use control voltage with the Prophet-5. But since this instrument comes from “father of MIDI” Dave Smith, it seems fitting that Chris also puts Ableton Live and MIDI into play:
Here, I was experimenting with controlling two parameters via MIDI CC (OSC A Freq & OSC B PW). In my regular sound design I usually do this type of thing via CV, but connected to Ableton via USB MIDI this was a lot of fun and very powerful.
And then there’s this beautiful, plucked-note invention, which Chris says is thanks to using Ableton Live to allow hands-free manipulation. I really love this – it’s of course a vintage instrument, but this sounds thoroughly modern to me, not like a 70s throwback. I love those stuttering, irregularly-phrased rhythms; I could listen to this all day.
And it should give you some beautiful sense of calm…
He made an extended version, a bit brighter as some of those timbres open up (though still in this gentle minor mode world):
Oh yeah – another advantage of saving computer sets, the ability to call up the same pattern. So with some added conversations, Chris went back and added filter modulation for a pulsing, futuristic take on the same musical materials – plus friends from Moog and Arturia joining in the jam:
I used the Pedal Filter Input as a CV in and modulated the filter with a CV from a Pro 3. The Pro 3 CV was from one of the Aux Envelopes which was triggered every time the sequencer played a note, giving the P5 filter a nice clock-synced rhythmic workout. I added a couple more sequenced instruments ([Minimoog] Voyager, [Arturia] MatrixBrute) to hear them all playing together, creating a great rhythmic environment.
Here’s a wonderfully fuzzy, detuned and wavering pad, with the addition of the Asheville Music Tools ADG-1 Analog Delay:
But if you need a bit further out in those sounds, here we are – as Chris and I had some back-and-forth chats while I looked into putting this story together:
Further explorations using the Prophet 5 Pedal Filter Input as a CV in and modulating its filter with a CV from a Pro 3. Here I’m sending a repeating step-sequenced voltage pattern to the P5 while the Pro 3 sequence plays in the background.
And definitely check out Chris’ site and YouTube channel: