ARP Instruments

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ARP Instruments, Inc. was an American manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, founded by Alan Richard Pearlman[1] in 1969. Best known for its line of synthesizers that emerged in the early 1970s, ARP closed its doors in 1981 due to financial difficulties. The company earned a reputation for producing excellent sounding, innovative instruments and was granted several patents for the technology it developed.

ARP Instruments logo

History[edit]

Alan Pearlman was an engineering student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts in 1948 when he foresaw the coming age of electronic music and synthesizers. He wrote:

"The electronic instrument's value is chiefly as a novelty. With greater attention on the part of the engineer to the needs of the musician, the day may not be too remote when the electronic instrument may take its place ... as a versatile, powerful, and expressive instrument."

Following 21 years of experience in electronic engineering and entrepreneurship, Pearlman founded ARP Instruments in 1969 with US$100,000 of personal funds and a matching amount from investors.

Avatar
Odyssey (rev.1)

Throughout the 1970s, ARP was the main competitor to Moog Music and eventually surpassed Moog to become the world's leading manufacturer of electronic musical instruments. There were two main camps — the Minimoog players and the ARP Odyssey/ARP 2600 players — with most proponents dedicated to their choice, although some players decided to pick and choose between the two for specific effect, as well as many who dabbled with products produced by other manufacturers. Notably, the ARP 2500 was featured in the hit movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind; ARP's Vice President of Engineering, Phillip Dodds, was sent to install the unit on the movie set and was subsequently cast as Jean Claude, the musician who played the now famous 5-note sequence on the huge synthesizer in an attempt to communicate with the alien mothership.

Quadra
ARP 2600

The demise of ARP Instruments was significantly influenced by the ill-fated decision to invest a significant amount of capital in the development of the ARP Avatar, a synthesizer module virtually identical to the ARP Odyssey sans keyboard and intended to be played by a solid body electric guitar via a specially-mounted hexaphonic guitar pickup whose signals were then processed through discrete pitch-to-voltage converters. Although an excellent, groundbreaking instrument by all accounts, the Avatar failed to sell well. ARP Instruments was never able to recoup the research and development costs associated with the Avatar project and, after several more attempts to produce successful instruments such as the ARP Quadra, ARP 16-Voice & 4-Voice Pianos, and the ARP Solus, the company finally declared bankruptcy in 1981.

Chroma Polaris (descendent of Chroma)

During the liquidation process, the company's assets and the rights to the manufacture of the 4-Voice Piano and also the prototype ARP Chroma - the company's most sophisticated instrument design to date - were sold to CBS Musical Instruments for the total sum of $350,000. The project was completed at CBS R&D, and the renamed Rhodes Chroma was produced from 1982 to late 1983. The instrument is notable for a very flexible voice architecture; 16-note polyphony; a high-quality weighted, wooden keyboard action; pioneering use of a single slider parameter editing system (subsequently implemented on the Yamaha DX7); and the inclusion of a proprietary digital interface system that predated MIDI.

The company's (second) flagship instrument, the ARP Odyssey, will be revived in September 2014, by Korg Inc.[2]

Product highlights[edit]

  • 1969 - ARP 2002 Almost identical to the ARP 2500, except that the upper switch matrix had 10 buses instead of 20.
  • 1970 - ARP 2500 (large and complex analog modular synthesizer, patched with a switch matrix, noted for its reliable tuning compared to competitors Moog and Buchla)
Pro/DGX
Soloist
  • 1970 - ARP Soloist (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesizer)
  • 1971 - ARP 2600 (smaller, more portable analog semi-modular synthesizer, pre-patched and patchable with cables)
  • 1972 - ARP Odyssey (pre-patched analog duophonic synthesizer, a truly portable performance instrument, a competitor of the Minimoog); former Deep Purple keyboardist, the late Jon Lord, played an ARP Odyssey.
  • 1972 - ARP Pro Soloist (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesizer - updated version of Soloist)
String Synthesizer
String Ensemble
Omni (rev.2)
Omni (rev.1)
  • 1975 - ARP Omni (polyphonic string synthesizer with rudimentary polyphonic synthesizer functions)
Solus
Axxe
  • 1975 - ARP Axxe (pre-patched single oscillator analog synthesizer)
  • 1975 - ARP String Synthesizer (a combination of the String Ensemble and the Explorer)
  • 1977 - ARP Pro/DGX (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesizer - updated version of Pro Soloist)
  • 1977 - ARP Omni-2 (polyphonic string synthesizer with rudimentary polyphonic synthesizer functions - updated version of Omni)
  • 1977 - ARP Avatar (an Odyssey module fitted with a guitar pitch controller)
  • 1978 - ARP Quadra (4 microprocessor-controlled analog synthesizers in one)
  • 1979 - ARP Sequencer (analog music sequencer)
  • 1979 - ARP Quartet (polyphonic orchestral synthesiser not manufacted by ARP - just bought in from Siel and rebadged )
  • 1980 - ARP Solus (pre-patched analog monophonic synthesizer)
  • 1981 - ARP Chroma (microprocessor controlled analog polyphonic synthesizer - sold to CBS/Rhodes when ARP closed)

Notable clients[edit]

Some notable ARP users and endorsers include:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Russ, Martin (2012). Sound Synthesis and Sampling (revised 3 ed.). Taylor & Francis. pp. 383, 388. ISBN 9781136122132.  (See also p. 149 of previous edition)
  2. ^ "Korg Announces the development of the ARP Odyssey synthesizer". Korg. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE ARP KIND". soundonsound.com. August 1996. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  4. ^ "Korg Oasys: On Tour with Tony Banks and Genesis". dv247.com. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
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  18. ^ a b c d Holmes, Thom (2008). Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture. Routledge. p. 247. ISBN 0-415-95782-6. 
  19. ^ Rideout, Ernie (2008). Keyboard Presents the Best of the 80's. Backbeat. p. 69. ISBN 0-87930-930-X. 
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  28. ^ [1]
  29. ^ Dann, Jonathan. "Anthony Phillips FAQ". Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
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  33. ^ Future music, Issues 113-117. Larpress. 2001. p. 104. 
  34. ^ Justin Kleinfeld (April 1, 2004). "Skinny Puppy on recording and producing The Greater Wrong of the Right". Electronic Musician Magazine. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  35. ^ YouTube video of Pete Townshend demonstrating it
  36. ^ "Joe Walsh - Barnstorm (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". discogs.com. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  37. ^ Vail, Mark (2000). Vintage Synthesizers: Pioneering Designers, Groundbreaking Instruments, Collecting Tips, Mutants of Technology. Miller Freeman Books. p. 125. ISBN 0-87930-603-3. 
  38. ^ Baraka, Imamu (1976). "Weather Report". Down Beat Magazine 43: 46. 
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External links[edit]