A Synth for all Seasons

The GAIA SH-01


What does a synth really sound like? It’s kind of like saying “What colors are in your imagination?” The answer can be as simple as…“that sounds like a clarinet,” or as complex as “Wow, I’ve never heard anything like that before.”

You may be thinking, “Okay, so how does that relate to my classroom?” Many educators are discovering that incorporating the study of synthesis into their curriculums has enhanced their teaching in ways they never foresaw. Synthesis is a great tool to inspire creativity and critical listening skills, not to mention performance.

The first time two monks tried to sing the same note, they were synthesizing something new that eventually resulted in the Gregorian Chant. When someone thought that it might sound “cool” to have an oboe and a flute play in octaves, they were synthesizing a new sound. Those first steps resulted in some of the most glorious orchestrations man has ever heard and all because we are always looking for more in music. The power of the synthesizer to create a wondrous variety of tone color gives us vast advantages in practical and creative applications for teachers. And, never before has there been such an affordable and flexible synth as the GAIA SH-01.

Listening, analyzing and describing are primary elements within the study of music, and also where a synth can take you. A synthesizer’s ability to imitate almost anything from a flute to a French horn can be used in learning and distinguishing the instruments of the orchestra. By utilizing the synth to perform in an ensemble you can quickly and easily see how your desired instrument blends with the rest of the ensemble. Additionally, by listening to recordings of the instruments in different styles and genres and trying to imitate them, you develop a better understanding for their performance techniques. You can learn a lot from performing musical excerpts that were written specifically for that instrument.

With the GAIA’s solid sound source and complete performance controls, you can also achieve subtle nuances in your playing. But better still, after you get the feel of imitating the instrument of choice, you can reach down, tweak a knob or two and create a sound that can take an audience where no audience has gone before.

The GAIA is a very dynamic instrument that lends itself to creative exploration of sound. Using it to describe something sonically is another unique way to take advantage of its powerful tone generators, as well as the effects processors. For example, blending together a tone that sounds something like a native flute, and then playing it while drenching it in reverb or delay, can create an “otherworld” effect — something like you might hear in a movie soundtrack or in video gaming. This kind of improvisation of sound and music is captivating to students who will revel in the power of technology and music at their fingertips. This is what they listen to and relate to all day. Now, having a chance to create it themselves is inspiring.

The SH-01 creates instant gratification as well. Being able to reach out and physically touch the controls allows for manipulation of the sound in realtime. This makes the GAIA a perfect tool for enhancing video sound tracks. An example might be playing an obligato line to the video track and subtly sweeping the filter, giving the sound a sense of motion and life not easily achieved acoustically. And in the world of practical use, you may find the need for additional members in an ensemble. If you need to beef up your string section in the orchestra, get another Tuba to double a part in the band, or add the proper instrument missing from a woodwind quintet, the GAIA could easily be used to fill in the absent parts.

From performance and improvisation to composition and accompaniment, the GAIA can be there for all seasons.

Take an Interactive Tour of the GAIA SH-01.

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