Fairlight Week: Pt 5: Build your own!

The weird thing about the Fairlight is that it now seems so primitive that modern music gear doesn't come close to reproducing it. It's a bit like comparing a Ferrari with a horse and cart, then wondering why you don't get that cool 'clip clop' sound.
The Fairlight interface was most like an early '90s Amiga or PC tracker - an eight track sequencer, triggering monophonic 8-bit samples (with the option of hardcore hexadecimal-input composing). Syntrax runs on a mobile phone and is far more sophisticated. Ironically, the only modern software which comes close is Ableton Live 4, with it's basic built-in sample player and 8-track drum sequencer/sample player. So, here's how you build your own Fairlight Series II for free:
  • Download the original Series II sound disks from the brilliant Hollow Sun archive, and you've got most of the famous Fairlight sounds, in super-gritty 8-bit.
  • Download this super-duper Fairlight wallpaper (adapted from an image created by Fairlight super-god Greg Holmes)
  • Download the demo version of Ableton Live here
  • Get some style tips from this page
  • In Ableton, start up Impulse and Simpler, drag in a bunch of samples and.... Hurrah! You're Trevor Horn.

  • UPDATE: Unfortunately Hollow Sun have taken down the free samples, and are now selling them as part of their Nostalgia plugin.


    Great trawl through the wake of this magnificent 1970s-pocket-calculator of the computer-synths (huge, clunky, obsolete in no time, but with a lot of character).

    How about a PPG Wave 2 retrospective?
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