Design Museum: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers

 The Design Museum opens it’s doors on THE electronic music exhibition:

Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers

 

Lose yourself in a club like environment and explore 'how electronic music rewired the world’ (The Guardian). As the original pocket synthesizer first released in 1968, we’re proud that the Stylophone has played it’s own part in the history of synthesized sound and electronic music.

Now the Design Museum celebrates the history of electronic music with this amazing experiential exhibition.

This virtual exhibition will ‘transport you through the people, art, design, technology and photography that have been shaping the electronic music landscape.’ And celebrates 50 years of legendary group Kraftwerk (who famously incorporated Stylophone in their music) with their 3D show.

There are load of other magic and immersive experiences at the exhibition, featuring:
Chemical Brothers // Detroit techno legends Kevin Saunderson, // Juan Atkins //Richie
Hawtin, // "Godfather of House Music" Frankie Knuckles // Haçienda designer Ben
Kelly and the extreme visual world created by Weirdcore for Aphex Twin’s ‘Collapse’.

The exhibition looks like a sonic extravaganza and the perfect celebration of electronic and synthesized
sounds!

And check out this cool and comprehensive playlist put together by Laurent Garnier which chronicles the rise of electronic music:

Stylophone 350S - A Rare Piece of Stylophone History!

The Stylophone has seen a colourful variety of iterations over the years. While the 1968 original was not much bigger than a paperback book, the latest addition to the line-up - the Stylophone Gen-R8 - is a full-sized desktop synthesizer that’s armed to the teeth with nifty features.

What you might not know is that there’s another member of the family that dwarfed its pocket-sized relatives: the Stylophone 350S. Released in the mid ‘70s, this impressively chunky box appeared to be an inflated Stylophone, wood speaker grill and all - but it soon became apparent that there’s quite a bit more on offer...

What was different about the Stylophone 350S?

First up: the size. As mentioned, the Stylophone 350S was considerably bigger than the familiar Stylophone instruments of the time - it remains one of the largest Stylophone varieties ever made. At over 6 times the size of the ’68 original, it wasn’t a handheld instrument in quite the same way.

With this increase in size came an increase in functionality. The familiar touch keyboard boasted a 44-note range - that’s a rather snazzy 3 and a half octaves compared to the usual 1 and a half.

Next up: 2 styluses are better than 1, as the old saying goes. Rather than simply allowing you to jump between notes across the extended keybed range, the second stylus (on the left) was used in conjunction with the ‘reiteration’ control. More on this later…

The larger enclosure combined with the extra feature set meant more power requirements - the 350S was fed by 2 PP9 batteries. Another reason for its increased thirst was the size of the loudspeaker behind that trademark wooden grill - a little extra volume never did any harm, right?

The final standout feature was the drastically-expanded set of controls. Those familiar with the Stylophone at the time will have been used to the Organ and Vibrato switches. The 350S instead featured an impressive array of rocker switches - here’s a lowdown of what’s what:

Stylophone 350S switching explained

  • Photo - choose the effect that the Photo Control is assigned to - either waa waa or vibrato (explained in more depth below).
  • Decay - as it sounds. Choose between a long or short decay.
  • Reiteration - as mentioned above, this is controlled by the second stylus. It’s essentially a note repeater, with a slow or fast setting.
  • Vibrato - again as it sounds, similar to the original Stylophone. Slow and fast settings to choose from.
  • Woodwind - 4 woodwind-like voices, each tuned an octave apart and displayed like organ stops (16, 8, 4 and 2).
  • Brass - 2 charming voices reminiscent of a trumpet, set an octave apart (16 and 8).
  • Strings - 2 confident voices set an octave apart (4 and 2).

What is the 350S Photo Control?

A typically outside-the-box feature, the unique Photo Control allowed you to use ambient light (or lack of) via a photo-diode as an extra way of controlling your sound. Situated directly above the main volume knob, you could assign it to waa waa, volume or vibrato.

By obscuring the Photo Control lens, you increased the depth of the effect. This added a whole new level of tactility to the instrument, letting you interact with the sound in real-time in a way that no previous Stylophone instrument had allowed.

What did the Stylophone 350S sound like?

With so many shiny new features, the Stylophone 350S was always going to have a sound of its own. While it still retained buckets of the original Stylophone charm, it had a unique sonic character that set it apart.

The extended keyboard range meant more notes at your disposal then ever before. By adding the additional voice options into the mix (voiced across 4 octaves themselves) you were presented with a huge range, from deep fuzzy bass to sparkling trebly leads.

Speaking of extra voice options, you could combine up to 4 of the voices together for all manner of quirky textures. By using up to 4 octaves at once, the 350S offered a far more complex, rich sound that was still bundles of fun.

Who used the Stylophone 350s?

Zombies founder and keyboardist Rod Argent was also an early adopter of the 350S, favouring its distinct tones that set it part from other Stylophone models.

Jarvis Cocker has long been a proponent of the Stylophone sound, both flying solo and with Pulp. Want to hear the 350s in action? Take a listen to the immensely talented Candida Doyle from Pulp using it on His ‘n’ Hers or check out the one and only Russian rock lords Gromyka. Surely the best brows in the business?!

https://www.facebook.com/gromblka/videos/401431794073573

What happened to the Stylophone 350S?

The Stylophone 350S enjoyed a fairly short run - around 3000 were made in the ‘70s before Dubreq ceased production, compared to the millions sold of the original model and its handheld variants.

Some still exist out in the wild, many with their original components intact - a truly rare gem and a lesser-known chapter in the Stylophone story. Long live the Stylophone 350S!

 


Sharing the love with our Stylophone family

The situation here in the UK is changing all the time due to the Corona Virus and some of you around the world will be in isolation in your homes.

In our own small way, we would really like to make this time a little bit more bearable for the global Stylophone family. We will support you online, post your sounds, videos and conversations, keeping spirits up and the creative vibe alive and well.

If you’d like to contribute, please tag us in your posts on social media or use the hashtag #Stylophone so we can find you. If you have any suggestions on how we can all share the love and encourage each other to make music at home, please email or message us with your ideas.

More than anything, keep in touch, you are not alone. Sending our very best wishes to every single one of you. ✌❤


Meet the Stylophone Women of the Future

Meet the Stylophone Women of the Future

It's International Women's day! We take a look at the amazing organisations we support, that are doing great work for women in the audio industry.

The Yorkshire Sound Women Network (YSWN) was set up to help women and girls explore sound and music technology. They do this through workshops, mentoring schemes, skill-sharing, public performance and community events.

We think they’re doing great work - so we sent them some Stylophone kit to use in their workshops, and are very proud to support them!

To find out more about The Yorkshire Sound Women Network, check out their website: https://yorkshiresoundwomen.com/

We’ve also been supporting a similar organisation in San Francisco...

We were excited to see the ‘Girls on the Mic’ students learning with the StylophoneGenX1 in San Francisco!

Girls on the Mic is an after-school mentoring program that helps underprivileged girls aged 11-18 develop skills in music. It provides access to instruments and technology they wouldn’t normally have.

The project is run by the Women’s Audio Mission. They’re rightly concerned that less than 5% of the people creating the sounds, music and media we hear today are women or gender non-conforming individuals.

We donated Stylophones and Stylophone Gen X-1 and are excited that they'll help inspire more young women to play.

For more info, check out the Womens Audio Mission www.womensaudiomission.org or look for the hashtag #GirlsOnTheMic.

If you’d like to hear more Stylophone news, please join our free Stylophone News email newsletter. You'll get the opportunity to win some Stylophone goodies, plus get advance invitations to try our latest instruments.


Win a Stylophone Gen R-8!

February Freakout: Win a Limited Edition Stylophone Gen R-8!

We’ve got some exciting news...

Until 29th February, we’re offering YOU the chance to win a limited edition Stylophone Gen R-8 touch analog synthesizer!

These beasts retail at $349 but are currently not available to buy anywhere!

Our new touch analog synthesizer includes a 3-octave touch keyboard, two oscillators, room-shaking bass, a grungy analog delay, plus an easy-to-use 16 step sequencer, all packed into a heavy-duty black steel case.

The Stylophone Gen R-8 has its own unique sound, described by fans as “raw”, “fat and gritty” and a “dirty little beast”.

As synth reviewer Gaz Williams says about the Stylophone Gen R-8, “It’s kinda nasty. This is the naughty kid. This is the smoking on the back seat of the school bus kid. This makes a really ferocious sound,”

Now, one of only 500 Limited Edition Stylophone Gen R-8s could be yours!

To be a winner, all you need to do is...

Use ANY of our range of Stylophone instruments to make some of your most creative sounds, any genre, with visuals of any creative style - then post it as a video (max 1 minute long) on your own social media account.

It could be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube…. or all of them!

Whatever you do, please TAG US and use the hashtag:

#StylophoneGenR8Comp

You could make your own original track or cover a song in any genre - heavy metal, techno, electronica, pop, reggae, jazz, grime, indie, experimental, classical, punk. We don’t mind! But for the best chance to win…

  • Be as creative as you like with your sounds – we want to hear something interesting and unique!
  • Make it visual! - we love to keep our eyes as entertained as our ears, so go as mad as you like with your video.

Send your entries in by midnight (GMT) on Friday 28th February. We’ll pick our favourite on the 29th February and the winner will receive a Stylophone Gen R-8 synthesizer!

We can’t wait love to see what you come up with!

Remember to use the hashtag #StylophoneGenR8Comp and tag us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Good luck ✌️❤


Wire use the Stylophone Gen X-1 on their latest LP

Well, this is pretty cool.

Legendary British art punk band, Wire have just released their seventeenth studio album, Mind Hive.

One of the highlights is the penultimate track, ‘Hung’, which features Wire’s vocalist Colin Newman on the Stylophone Gen X-1.

As the band reveal in an interview for Record Collector Magazine, the Stylophone Gen X-1 creates the sound which is the “foundation of ‘Hung’.”

Record Collector’s review says “Hung bursts into life with a synth pulse and builds relentlessly until it eventually climaxes in an epic space-rock crescendo”

If you’re unfamiliar with Wire, they’ve been going since 1977 and are described by Rolling Stone magazine as “Punk’s ultimate cult band”.

Even the band admit that they’ve not quite got the recognition they should do. As Colin Newman says, “We’re the most famous band you’ve never heard of”.

Well, in our opinion, the weird, obscure stuff is often the best, and  we couldn’t be prouder than to hear the Stylophone Gen X-1’s screeching delay pulsing away on Wire’s latest opus.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Wire, look out for a new documentary called People in a Film, which is in production right now, including footage of them recording Mind Hive.

So you never know, the Stylophone Gen X-1 might make a cameo appearance!

If you’d like to hear more Stylophone news, join our free email newsletter - and find out first about new Stylophone kit, news and competitions. 


How Dubby Stylophone Sounds Got into Lee Scratch Perry’s Rainford

When it comes to sonic wizardy, there’s probably no man greater than Lee Scratch Perry, the Jamaican dub pioneer.

A bona fide living legend.

Remarkably, he’s still making records aged 83, and his latest one 'Rainford' (On-U Sound Records!) features the Stylophone.

The musician Gaudi, who plays in the band on the album recording said on Facebook, “Feeling honoured to be on this gem produced by Adrian Sherwood, with my piano playing, theremin, moog synthsizers, melodica and stylophone.”

Gaudi has been playing for over 30 years, in over 250 productions in all kinds of genre, from punk to experimental electronica, but he’s most at home in spacious, dubby soundscapes, so no wonder he likes a bit of Stylophone.

And we might be biased, but we think the stylophone and Mr Perry are a perfect match.

Here’s a the first single from the album, Let It Rain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OLmxpeVCfU&list=PLdpBGt9Vk1yFCsl6wJw6ao-3qbRkN0URC

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OLmxpeVCfU&list=PLdpBGt9Vk1yFCsl6wJw6ao-3qbRkN0URC

If you’d like to hear more Stylophone news, make sure you’re signed up to our free email bulletin. We’ll share more musical treats, plus behind-the-scenes developments with our latest products, priority invitations for new launches, and the chance to win some ace prizes.

Join the newsletter here: EMAIL SIGN UP BOX BELOW THE POST


Just How Amazing Can a STYLOPHONE Sound?

Awesome, absolutely awesome’

Here it is rigged up with a  ZOOM MS-70CDR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7CLBFV9hD0&feature=youtu.be


Magnetic Mag Review

'It's capable of creating incredible textures and atmospheres that you just will not get anywhere else..'

Thanks Kane Michael