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Peter KORG MS20

(click on a picture to enlarge it)


Interests, experience and influences:

I have been exploring the possibilities of electronics since 1972 and have taken a special interest in the audible results. The analogue synthesizer has been a great tool for my experiments because of its expandability and direct hardware programming. Besides the synthesis of sounds, I practised drumming in African style, as I am fascinated by the magic of rhythm. Since both trained the perception of acoustic phemomena, my interest then turned to environmental sounds. I use specific gadgets to receive atmospheric magnetic sounds, which leads me into nature. To me, the most important musicians playing synthesizers are Klaus Schulze, Cluster, Tomita, Vangelis.


Although the Korg MS20 is a monophonic synthesizer, its flexibility offers a great playground. The patchpanel allows a very creative sound design. Most sound parameters are under direct and dynamic manual control by using various control knobs. This feature makes it possible to concentrate on sound rather than melody and makes the keyboard unnecessary. Another special feature of that instrument lies in the unique behaviour of its integrated filters, as the feed in audio signal acts as a modulating voltage for resonance frequency as well. The result is a class of sounds of its own (example 1 & 2). A modification of my MS20 introduced cross modulation between the two oscillators. Again, the result is another class of sounds (example 3 & 4). The lack of presets and any automation always demands a completely new creation of sounds and allows the player to concentrate on the process of sound generation which involves ears and hands as part of the feedback loop. Sounds are never created quickly. A further expansion is built in a 19 inch rack and consists of two function generators and a speaker amplifier.

For your convenience these examples are in ACM wave, PCM wave and AU format:
ACM wave (smallest) PCM wave (largest) AU
1 - filter sound 1 - filter sound 1 - filter sound
2 - filter sound 2 - filter sound 2 - filter sound
3 - crossmodulation 3 - crossmodulation 3 - crossmodulation
4 - crossmodulation 4 - crossmodulation 4 - crossmodulation

My first drum was made of a tree's trunk, hollowed out manually. There are no recordings available, because it sounds best when played in the open air together with other enthusiasts, rather than in the rooms of a studio. Later I built more of these instruments.

As I am using computers for several years, my interrest has also expanded onto producing and manipulating sound with these. The spectrum of possibilities is much enlarged this way, though spontatious productions are nearly impossible.

Current and long-term projects:

In order to make sensitive recordings of environmental events possible, I built a microphone preamplifier which generates an extremely low additional noise and planned building a low-noise multiple microphone with special direction sensitivity characteristics.

Very time consuming but still interesting is the observation of environmental magnetic fields. My equipment consists of a mobile loop antenna, a very low-noise high gain amplifier and a headphone. I am planning an unattended multidirectional long term recording facility in a good distance from any disturbing manmade installations. You can find much documentation of such work on radio waves below 22 kHz at www.vlf.it. If you are working on a similar project, I would be pleased to receive an email: peter.schmalkoke@arcor.de

A further project on making of under water recordings is described at my personal homepage.

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