Yamaha marked the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the company’s first synthesizer, the SY-1, with a special event hosted at the Yamaha Artist Services facility in Burbank, California on Friday, August 1. Nate Tschetter, Music Production Marketing Manager, Pro Audio & Combo Division, Yamaha Corporation of America, introduced the evening’s entertainment, which was provided by keyboardist David Garfield and his band, along with various guests.
Garfield, whose recording and performance credits represent a who’s who of the music industry, put together an all-star band for the night that included Jimmy Branly on drums, bass player Neil Stubenhaus, and guitarist Michael O’Neill. Composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and Grammy Award nominee Patrice Rushen, well known for her 1982 hit, “Forget Me Nots,” sat in with Garfield’s band on the Motif XF8, which Yamaha has released in a commemorative 40th anniversary edition.
Yamaha set up some of the company’s early synths in a separate room for guests to play, including the SY-1, a single-VCO analog synth with presets from brass, woodwind, piano, and stringed instruments to synthesized sounds labelled Funny, Drake and Growl. On display, from 1994, was the VP1, a very rare—reportedly about two-dozen were made and only three were sold—polyphonic virtual acoustic synthesizer on loan for the event from Reinhold Heil, the German-born, L.A.-based film and TV composer (Cloud Atlas, Perfume, Run Lola Run). Yamaha went on to produce several landmark synthesizers, including the GX-1, CS-80, and DX7, as well as their current flagship Motif series.