Comments 12


No chance of finding authentic Indians to play those instruments? It doesn’t sound authentic, they sound like bongos more than Tablas.

I want to be able to play this with the disc that is made:

tony, you won’t be able to play norwegian wood with this disc. sorry if our recording doesn’t meet your quality standards.

Hi Tony,

I’d like to try to respond to your observations.

I suggested to Pea back in December that I thought we should make a sitar disc since the owner’s manual listed sitar as one if the instruments you could play on the Optigan. Pea and I share many of the same musical inclinations, so it was an easy sell.

So we’ve been thinking about how to do it. I was pretty sure we’d need to record live musicians, but I was afraid of all the potential hassles including future claims to recording rights, contracts, recording studios, coordinating people and other logistics. Our enterprise is pretty small and we have other jobs and commitments, so the additional time and potential expense was weighing heavily on me.

Then a couple of things happened. I had been talking to Matt Quilter about doing an Optigan® disc, and he sounded interested. He also knew of a drummer. Next, I bought an Optigan® from the owner of a small recording studio, which seemed like a good place to record a small combo with the benefit that the owner was hip to the Optigan® paradigm. Thus Surf Rock was born. It went surprisingly well and has taught Pea and me what we need to do to put a successful session together.

The sitar idea still made sense, but we needed musicians. Pea studied sitar at UCLA and I knew someone who had a concert quality instrument. Pea was concerned about authenticity, so he didn’t think he would be the best choice to play on the disc. So the idea was shelved for a few months while we worked on other stuff.

From time to time I searched on the web for local musicians. There are a couple of resources in SoCal that were interesting. But what would they play? How could we get an authentic Indian sound on an Optigan? Pea and I debated this for some time and we still weren’t sure of the approach, so I threw some ideas out and asked Pea to post them on the Optigan® site. In the meantime, Pea got in touch with a couple musicians in his area that met with his high standards.

Justin came recommended by a friend of Pea’s who teaches in the UCSD music dept. Pea sent me this bio:
“In addition to being an active performer in contemporary music, he has also explored North and South Indian percussion extensively. He has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2001 to study South Indian percussion for nine months in India with T.H. Subash Chandran, and has studied tabla with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael and at the California Institute of the Arts.”

Justin recommended Rama. Pea sent me links to sample recordings for both musicians, and I agreed to proceed with the recording session.

Keep in mind that the teaser clip Pea posted only shows brief excerpts of the session, not to mention that the sound quality of the actual recording is much better than what was captured by the camera mike. Pea chose the Rama footage more or less at random, and the Justin footage more for the fiery riffage.

If you’ve purchased Optigan® or Orchestron discs from us in the past, you will be acquainted with our dedication to excellence. The sitar disc is going to be somewhat experimental, but should prove useful for certain applications. Most important, it promises to be really fun to play. I can’t wait till Pea sends me the audio files so I can make a test pressing.


I’ll buy a copy no matter what. When you putting up preorders?

It always sounds good when you have a final product, I never doubt that! I know you have to work around a budget, musician egos, royalies, etc.

I just was concerned with would I be able to play “Norweigian Wood”, “Paint It Black”, and other cool sitar songs with the disc. It would be like asking a Native American to play Bag Pipes, I’m sure he could do it and squeeze some notes out of it but if you want that authentic bag pipe sound you need a Scotish guy to do it justice.

Any thoughts about an ACCORDIAN OPTIGAN® DISC after the TASTE OF INDIA Dics is finished? Kinda a french musette type sound of downtown Paris maybe? Or a Gypsy music disc?

what software do you use to make that colorful psychedelic video?

hi tony, we won’t be pre-ordering this one until maybe august or so- i haven’t done the editing, and we haven’t made a test disc yet.

as robert pointed out, this disc falls more under the “experimental” category, that is, you won’t be able to use it to play a tune the way you can with a typical optigan® disc. rather, you’ll be able to string together and recombine lots of different sitar and tabla riffs. hopefully the results will be interesting and somehow useful. putting a straight-ahead sitar sound (ie one plucked note per key) on the keyboard wouldn’t really work, and you wouldn’t really be able to play the tunes you mentioned with such a disc, though if there’s any demand in the future, we may eventually do a “sitar-ploitation” type disc of some sort.

as for your other requests, i wouldn’t say those are styles that i’ve had any thoughts about or have had any requests for, so probably not anytime soon, sorry!

the video effect is a simple color negative filter that should be available as an effect in most video editing applications. the specific app i use is sony vegas.


Awesome Pea! I’ll buy it when the pre-order comes!

Its so cool to be able to breath new life into such a special instrument as the Optigan!! Thanks for keeping it alive, Pea!!

When’s the Preorders coming up?

I just got the test disc back from the lab. Pea and I are discussing some changes to the track assignments. I’ll need to send the test disc to Pea so can listen to it.

I suspect it will be a week or two before we do preorders on this, but that will be up to Pea.

The disc is really fun to play. I took it to my workplace and demoed it for the guys; they all were amazed and amused. This should be one of our more popular discs.


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