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Synthbits: Audio and Video of the Classic VL1 Virtual Acoustic Synthesizer

Synthbits: Audio and Video of the Classic VL1 Virtual Acoustic Synthesizer
The first time I saw the Yamaha VL1 Virtual Acoustic Synthesizer was at the Winter NAMM show in 1994. It was utterly captivating and today, some 23 years later, the unique sound of the VL1 is still mind-blowing. In fact it is so mind-blowing that we have included three tastes of this unique Synth for you!

The VL1 is best played using a breath controller like the BC2 or BC3, and how it responds to breath input is unlike any other electronic musical instrument. For example, blowing slowly and then gradually increasing the speed and amount of breath into a connected breath controller produces an entirely different response then playing in a short, tongued staccato manner. That input - coupled with the other physical controllers (like the ever important third modulation wheel) - allow for a different level of expressiveness. The VL1 was the first commercially available physical modeling synthesizer and it represented a significant step forward in synthesis technology. For a nice overview on physical modeling synthesis go here.   

Check out the videos below:
- The first one is from the great Katsunori Ujiie demonstrating some of the classic Voices of the VL1.
- The second is an excerpt from a 1994 National Public Radio interview with Phil "Bad Mister" Clendeninn.
- Lastly, there is a short musical demo I created using the VL1 with the original MOTIF Synthesizer. The VL Voice I start with is called "Floboe" - a virtual instrument with the attack and harmonics of a flute and the timbre of an oboe. Listen later in the piece where I changed to the Soprano Sax Voice.


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