Watch the full performance here.
What Equipment do they use?
As Jean Michel Jarre started off in the late 60’s and early 70’s he uses primarily analogue synthesizers of various types including modular, polyphonic and monophonic. Using analog in place of the modern digital synthesizers keeps to the original sound and tone of his music and also creates more authentic tones and textures. When it comes to controlling effects the main things controlled are modulation and filter FX. All the equipment used is hardware as again it adds to the authenticity and overall sound of the music. Some notable examples include:
- Eminent 310 U – used a lot throughout the album
- E.M.S VCS3 – one of his first synthesizers which he has used for most of his compositions
- RMI keyboard computer – one of the songs for oxygene was made primarily with this synthesizer.
He has used some other instruments though which were not originally used on the album. One such is the Theremin, which he has used as a lead. Another synthesizer that wasn’t on the original is a key tar, again used as a lead. I think that even though they weren’t originally used on the album changing the equipment list gives a fresh sound to the music and also results in live performances being superior to the original recording.
What Techniques do they use to perform their music?
The majority of the performance is all performed live by him and his backing musicians who play the instruments manually however some parts require arpeggiated sequences, which have most likely been looped. All of the synthesizers are hardware as it keeps with the original sound and feel of the music when it was recorded.
Where do they fall within the historical timeline of performance technology?
He began making music in the late 60’s and 70’s when synthesizers where just being perfected. There was almost little to no sequencing so any mistakes made would have to be re-recorded from the start. Sampling was also a very rare concept, which came about during the 80’s with the Fairlight CMI; an instrument utilised by jarred on later works. The CMI used a computer to process the samples and also popularised the use of MIDI.
How do they fit in with other related artists?
His primary influence is Pierre Schaeffer who he learnt a lot of experimental techniques from in the late 1960’s. During the 70’s and 80’s artists such as Vangelis and Kraftwerk created similar music using electronic music however all the artists managed to maintain a unique sound due to the synthesizers they used.
For example Jean Michel jarre used the Eminent 310 home organ a lot in his earlier albums utilising the string sound through a phaser, this gave his music a very spacey sound. Vangelis on the other hand used the Yamaha CS-80 a lot in his works. This synthesiser had some very orchestral sounds included which Vangelis a symphonic tone to a lot of his music whilst still being electronic.
Despite the differences in personal sound each of these artists all started by using hardware synthesizers as Software synthesizers were rare and computers were also very primitive and could not support musical software.