Roland MC-8 Micro-Composer

Vintage Roland MC-8 Sequencer Archive

Ralph Dyck: My Commercial Life using my handmade sequencers prior to the MC-8

Ralph sends this brief memoir of making commercial music with home-brew gear in the 1970s:

I earned most of my living in the ’70s by doing films for the NFB (National Film Board of Canada) and commercials for GGP (Griffith Gibson Productions) and directly for agencies like J. Walter Thompson etc. Here’s an account of three spots for CPAIR (Canadian Pacific Airlines, still the best I ever flew to LA). They made the most money for me because I got residuals from them through the union every 3 months, for as long as 2 years!

The first version of CPAIR was interesting in that all I had was a logo, ‘Orange is Beautiful’, so I spent 1/2 an hour at the piano and came up with the full melody, it just flowed out of me. This is 1975 at Little Mountain Sound and I was using Sequencer #2, handmade. I used a lot of arpeggios with a flute-like sound because I didn’t have a good string sound, it was the best I could do at the time. I hired a real drummer, my friend George Ursan but all the rest is my handmade Sequencer and my handmade Synthesizer. The ending logo was sung by two singers, who ended up making more money than me, through ACTRA! They got residuals as well, I got leader’s scale and a fee for arranging plus residuals, still pretty good. (The following spring I bought my BMW 2800 CS coupe, Polaris Silver, what a car, a money sink…)

CPAIR Versions 2 and 3 using Sequencer #2 were done at Singwell Studios in 1976 where I was located for 6 months. Because I forget details easily it’s possible that CPAIR Version 3 was done on the MC-8 in 1977 at Total Sounds West- I forget the timeline. Joani Taylor sang the ‘Orange is Beautiful’ logos. I’m playing a Fender Rhodes on V2, and Roland electronic piano on V3. By this time I was using a Roland System 700 modular, and I used Solina Strings throughout. I had real flute and drums because I had a budget for a change. Those commercials kept me solvent for a year or two.

These were highlights of my commercial life at the time and they certainly used my sequencers, I’m just not sure if the MC-8 was used for the last one. Actually, producing commercials was right up my alley, they had to be very precise in time and message, they were something I could handle, not like writing a symphony!

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January 16, 2013 - Posted by | Interviews & Articles, Music

2 Comments »

  1. Can you remember what synths you used in version three? Sounds amazing.

    Comment by Stephen | January 25, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks for asking, I’m sure it was the Roland System 700, a part of the deal I had with Roland for the sequencer. Thinking now I was probably using my sequencer #2,
      not the MC-8, I’m not 100% sure though.
      Ralph.

      Comment by David Ralph Dyck | January 26, 2013 | Reply


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