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WURLISCAPE represents the next evolution in the Optigan disc concept we starting with Pianoscape and Vibrascape. This disc is not intended for playing “tunes,” rather it’s a sort of ambient arpeggiator of sorts (with the sounds of a familiar vintage electric piano on the keyboard), paired with a repository of previously unreleased drum and percussion loops from the original Optigan master tapes spread over the chord buttons (well, except for a few of the chord buttons, which have bass patterns- but we’ll get to that later).
The keyboard features a series of simple two-note rhythmic patterns that, when combined, can create complex arpeggiated chords. All patterns comprise only “white” notes, which means that since the Optigan keyboard stretches from F to F, everything is more or less in the F-Lydian mode (aka C Ionian mode). This ensures that most combinations of patterns will produce a harmonically consonant composite pattern, though the harmonic possibilities remain vast. The layout is thus:
- 1st octave: patterns in 5ths, all perfect except for B, which plays a dim 5th (B-F)
- 2nd octave: patterns in 4ths, all perfect except for F, which plays an aug 4th (F-B)
- 3rd octave: patterns in 3rds, F, G & C are maj, A, B, D, & E are min
Patterns are on the note 1/2 step lower than the key itself, ie the F# key plays an F pattern, G# a G pattern, etc.
- 1st octave: patterns in perfect octaves
- 2nd octave: patterns in 7ths, F & C are maj, G, A, & D are min
- 3rd octave: patterns in 6ths, F, G, C, & D are maj, A is min
Rhythmically, the patterns are arranged such that playing any three chromatically adjacent notes produces a complete composite rhythmic pattern in 8th notes. Other combinations of notes will produce less complex composite sub-patterns. It’s important to note that we don’t intend for the player to actually memorize this system of harmonic/rhythmic patterns- one should approach this disc experimentally, trying out different pattern combinations until you find something you like.
Most of the chord buttons have drum/percussion loops of various types, but the F, C, G, D, A, and E maj chord buttons have single-note bass patterns on those corresponding notes. This is to help fill out the low end of the harmonic spectrum. The decision to feature a variety of drum/percussion loops expands the versatility of this disc for those who simply wish to use the Optigan as a lo-fi drum machine.
Audio arranged, produced, and mastered by Pea Hicks
Disc design and mastering by Robert Becker
Please read the blog post here for information about the licensing agreement and usage guidelines for this disc.