World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Fairlight CMI

Fairlight CMI
Fairlight CMI series II exhibited at NAMM Show 2011
Fairlight CMI series II
exhibited at NAMM Show 2011[1]
Manufacturer Fairlight
Dates 1979–1988, 2011 - present
Price GB£ 18,000 ~ 60,000[2]
Technical specifications
Polyphony 8 ~ 16 voices
Timbrality Multitimbral
LFO for vibrato[3]
Synthesis type Additive synthesis
Sampling (8bit@16kHz

Waveform editing/drawing
Additive resynthesis (FFT)
Filter low-pass for anti-aliasing[3]
Keyboard 73 keys non-weighted, velocity sensitive.
Option: slave keyboard[3]
Left-hand control 3 sliders & 2 buttons,
numeric keypad (right side)[3]
External control Computer keyboard
CV/Gate (option, CMI II~)

The Fairlight CMI (computer musical instrument) is a digital sampling synthesizer. It was designed in 1979 by the founders of Fairlight, Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, and based on a dual-6800 microprocessor computer designed by Tony Furse in Sydney, Australia.[4][5] It rose to prominence in the early 1980s and competed in the market with the Synclavier from New England Digital.


  • History 1
  • Adoption 2
  • Influence 3
  • Features timeline 4
    • Series comparison 4.1
    • Details 4.2
  • Sound clips 5
  • Artists who used the Fairlight CMI 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


CMI founder Ryrie had started building synthesizers around 1971, using four analogue oscillators. Frustrated by the limitations of analogue synthesis, he contacted Vogel, wondering if he could help produce a synthesizer using a microprocessor such as the Motorola 6800.[6] The Fairlight CMI was a development of an earlier synthesizer called the Qasar M8, an attempt to create sound by modelling all of the parameters of a waveform in real time. Unfortunately, this was beyond the available processing power of the day, and the results were disappointing. In an attempt to make something of it, Vogel and Ryrie decided to see what it would do with a naturally recorded sound wave as a starting point. To their surprise the effect was remarkable, and the digital sampler was born. In casting about for a name, Ryrie and Vogel settled upon Fairlight, the name of a hydrofoil (named in turn after a suburb of Sydney) that sped each day past Ryrie's grandmother's large house in Point Piper, underneath which Ryrie had a workroom.[7]

By 1979, the Fairlight CMI Series I was being demonstrated in Australia, the UK and the US. In the US, demonstrations were covered by Bruce Springsteen's concert sound engineer Bruce Jackson, who was once Ryrie's neighbour in Point Piper.[7]

At this time the sound quality was not quite up to professional standards, having only 24 kHz sampling, and it was not until the Series II of 1982 that this was rectified. In 1983 MIDI was added with the Series IIx, and in 1985 support for full CD quality sampling (16 bit/44.1 kHz) was available with the Series III.[8]

"Page R" and lightpen on Fairlight CMI II

One of the Fairlight's most significant features was the so-called "Page R" software, a real time graphical pattern sequencer, introduced on CMI Series II. This feature was often a key part of the buying decision of artists, and widely copied on other software synths since.

The Fairlight ran its own operating system known as QDOS (a modified version of the Motorola MDOS operating system) and had a menu-driven GUI. The basic system used a number of Motorola 6800 processors, with separate cards dealing with specific parts of the system, such as the display drive and the keyboard interface. The main device for interacting with the machine apart from the keyboard was a light pen, which could be used to select options presented on a monochrome CRT display.

Fairlight Series III (1985)

The Series III model dropped the light pen interface (the light pen cable apparently was one of the most fragile hardware elements in the system) in favour of a graphics tablet interface which was built into the keyboard. This model was built around Motorola 68000 and Motorola 6809 processors, running Microware's OS-9 Level II operating system (6809 version).

The Fairlight CMI was very well built, assembled by hand with expensive components and consequently it was highly priced (around £20,000 for a Series I). Although later models, adjusting for inflation, were getting comparatively less expensive as the relevant technology was getting cheaper, competitors with similar performance and lower prices started to multiply. For some years the CMI was sought after by those who could afford one, but competition made life increasingly difficult for the company. Fairlight managed to survive until the mid-1980s, relying more and more heavily on its revered name and its products' cult status for sales.

Fairlight went bankrupt a few years later due to the expense of building the instruments – A$20,000 in components per unit. As a last-ditch attempt to salvage some revenue, the final run of machines were marketed as word processors. Peter Vogel said in 2005, "We were reliant on sales to pay the wages and it was a horrendously expensive business ... Our sales were good right up to the last minute, but we just could not finance the expansion and the R&D."[9]

Ryrie subsequently set up Fairlight ESP ('electric sound and picture'), a company which sold the Fairlight MFX range of post-production audiovisual workstations. These were initially based on the CMI III, although later versions were entirely independent developments.[10]

In August 2009, Peter Vogel launched a new company,[11] first called Fairlight Instruments but renamed Peter Vogel Instruments in 2012, with the objective of developing a 'retro' CMI-30A (30th Anniversary). This system is supposed to have the look and feel of the 1979 CMI but will use the latest 'Crystal Core media engine' developed by Production is to be limited to 100 instruments.

In 2011, Peter Vogel Instruments (then called Fairlight Instruments) also released a CMI app for the Apple iPad and Apple iPhone. The app includes the complete CMI sound library and an accurate translation of the CMI's renowned Page R sequencer. It is also available in a cut-down version.[12]


A Fairlight CMI keyboard, featuring signatures from 43 celebrity musicians, composers and producers.

Early users of the new system were Peter Gabriel, Richard James Burgess of Landscape (who demonstrated it to many British musicians and on BBC TV's Tomorrow's World), Iva Davies of Icehouse, Thomas Dolby, and Kate Bush. Raymond "Boz" Burrell of Bad Company bought the second Fairlight 1 to be sold in the UK after Peter Gabriel bought the first. Hans Zimmer hired Boz's Fairlight for many recordings during the early part of his career.[13] In the US, Jackson demonstrated the Series I sampler for a year before selling units to Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder in 1980 for US$27,500 each.[7] Meat-packing heir Geordie Hormel bought two for use at The Village Recorder in Los Angeles.[7] Other early adopters included Todd Rundgren, Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, producer Rhett Lawrence and Ned Liben of EBN-OZN.[14] The first commercially released album to incorporate it was Kate Bush's Never for Ever (1980), programmed by Richard James Burgess and John L. Walters. Wonder took his Fairlight out on tour in 1980 in support of the album Stevie Wonder's Journey Through "The Secret Life of Plants" to replace the Computer Music Melodian sampler he had used on the recording.[7] Geoff Downes of Yes conspicuously used a CMI with monitor on the band's 1980 tour to support the album Drama.The first classical album using the CMI was produced by Folkways Records in 1980 with composers Barton McLean and Priscilla McLean.[15] Titled "Electronic Music from the Outside In," it was adopted extensively in electronic music courses worldwide. Jean Michel Jarre used a Fairlight on Magnetic Fields (1981) and also made extensive use of it on his The Concerts in China (1982) and Zoolook (1984) albums. French keyboardist Roland Romanelli used the Fairlight on his 1982 solo album Connecting Flight. The 1982 movie Liquid Sky featured a soundtrack entirely performed on the Fairlight CMI.

Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey" and its parent album Peter Gabriel (1982) also featured the CMI. In 1981, Austrian musicians Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader started composing a whole symphony Erdenklang – Computerakustische Klangsinfonie.[16] This work premiered live on stage, using five music computers, during the Ars Electronica festival in Linz ,[17] and was released on LP in 1982.

EBN-OZN's "AEIOU Sometimes Y" was the first commercially released American single recorded entirely on a computer, a Fairlight CMI, in 1981/1982, released in 1983 by Elektra Records and Arista Records in London. The first American album recorded entirely via Fairlight was Feeling Cavalier by EBN-OZN recorded in 1983/1984 released in '84.

Producer Tony Mansfield used the instrument heavily on the B-52's album "Bouncing Off The Satellites". The band initially disliked the Fairlight, but guitarist Ricky Wilson died during the making of the album, and the Fairlight was used to make up for the lack of recorded guitar parts on the album. Mansfield had originally purchased a Fairlight CMI in 1982 for his own use with his band New Musik.

Jan Hammer used the CMI to compose the original soundtrack of the 1980s TV drama Miami Vice.

The British new wave band The Art of Noise and producer Trevor Horn used the instrument extensively. In the mid-90's, Art Of Noise member JJ Jeczalik would release a sample CD titled The Art of Sampling, which featured all of the unique CMI samples they had used throughout their career.

The last Fairlight IIx was given away through a contest in Keyboard Magazine in 1987. That particular machine has been in the hands of producer/musician Tim Curtis since 1990 and is still in use as of 2015.


The success of the Fairlight CMI caused other firms to introduce sampling. New England Digital modified their Synclavier digital synth to perform sampling, while E-mu introduced a less costly sampling keyboard, the Emulator, in 1981. In the United States, a new sampler company called Ensoniq introduced the Ensoniq Mirage in 1985, at a price that made sampling affordable to the average musician for the first time.

In America, Joan Gand of Gand Music and Sound in Northfield, Illinois was the top salesperson for Fairlight. The Gand organisation sold CMIs to Prince, James "J.Y." Young of Styx, John Lowry of Petra, Derek St. Holmes of the Ted Nugent band, Al Jourgensen of Ministry, and many private studio owners and rock personalities. Spokesperson Jan Hammer appeared at several Gand-sponsored Musictech pro audio events, to perform the "Miami Vice Theme", as well as Keith Emerson, Stanley Jordan, Allan Holdsworth, Todd Rundgren, Jeff Baxter, Terry Fryer, Pat Leonard (Michael Jackson), engineers Roger Nichols (Steely Dan), Bob Clearmountain (David Bowie), Al Schmidt (Frank Sinatra, Diana Krall) and Cubby Colby (Phil Collins).

The ubiquity of the Fairlight was such that Phil Collins stated on the sleeve notes of No Jacket Required that "there is no Fairlight on this record" to clarify that he did not use one to synthesize various horn and string sounds.[18]

Coil considered the device unique and unsurpassed, describing using the Fairlight as 'An aural equivalent of William Burroughs cut-ups'.[19]

Features timeline

Series comparison

Models Year Price Notable new features Voice# Synthesis Software I/O
Qasar I 1972 prototype
  • Analogue/Digital hybrid synthesiser
  • 4 octave keyboard with control panel
? ?
  • 4 octave keyboard with control panel
Qasar II 1972
  • Digital/Analogue hybrid sound synthesiser
? ?
  • 4 octave keyboard with control panel
Qasar M8 1974
$15,000~ / $8,000~ 1~24
  • Sequencer (MUSEQ 8)
  • Music notation software (?)
  • 4 octave keyboard
  • 1 bit DAC
Qasar M8
latest model

Options as of 1984:

  • Extra sound synthesiser modules
  • External sound digitiser
  • Visual effects generator interface
  • Extra terminals (up to 8 terms)
  • 10MB hard disk
  • 9 track magnetic tape
  • MUSEQ 8 sequencer
Qasar M8 CMI 1975
base price
  • Dynamic harmonic control
  • Waveform editing
  • No sampler (until 1978)
  • Dynamic harmonic control
    (128 harmonics additive)
  • Waveform editing
CMI Series I 1979 ~£18,000  8
  • Sampling: 8bit @ 16 kHz
  • Dynamic harmonic control
  • Waveform editing/drawing
  • Basic keyboard sequencer
  • Musical Composition Language (MCL)
CMI Series II 1980 ~£25,000
  • "Page R" (Rev.10–)
  • Sampling: 8bit @ 2.1–30.2 kHz
  • Dynamic harmonic control
    (32 harmonics additive)
  • Waveform generating/drawing
  • "Page R" Realtime Composer
  • Basic keyboard sequencer
  • MCL
  • CV/Gate interface (optional)
CMI Series IIx 1983 ~£27,000  8
  • "Page R" Realtime Composer
  • Basic keyboard sequencer
  • MCL
CMI Series III 1985 £40,000 or £60,000
  • 16 voices (expandable), 16bit sampling
  • CAPS sequencer, maximum 80 tracks
  • Graphics tablet (instead of lightpen)
  • Sampling: 16bit @ 100 kHz(mono) or 50 kHz(stereo)
  • FFT (additive resynthesis)
  • Waveform editing/drawing
  • CAPS (Composer, Arranger, Performer Sequencer), 80 tracks
  • MCL
CMI Series 30A 2009/
  • Reissued using Crystal Core Sound Engine
  • Sampling rate: 44.1, 48, 96, 192 kHz
24 24-bit floating point quality. CMI-30AX, 24 polyphonic instruments, each containing up to 1024 sample. The classic "Page R" sequencer is retained but is expanded to 24 tracks.
Fairlight Pro App 2011 £29.99 ?
  • Sample player with:
    • entire IIx library (564 voices)
    • selected III sounds (over 100)
  • User sampling (ver.1.1–)
  • "Page R" Realtime Composer
  • "Page D" Display waveform in 3D graphics
  • MIDI input via external interface
  • Import/export CMI data files


Qasar I (1972)[20]

Developed by Creative Strategies (Tony Furse)
  • Synthesis: Analogue/Digital hybrid
  • User interfaces: 4 octave keyboard with control panel

Qasar II (1972 / –1973[21])[20]

Developed by Creative Strategies (Tony Furse), with a grant from the Australian Council for the Arts (Don Banks), and purchased by Canberra School of Music.
  • Synthesis: Digital/Analogue hybrid
  • User interfaces: 4 octave keyboard with control panel[21]

Qasar M8 (Multimode 8) (1974[20]–c.1980 / 1975[21])[22]

Developed by Creative Strategies (Tony Furse), with the help of Motorola's programme development system.[23] In late 1974, Don Banks requested similar model for the electronic music studio of Canberra School of Music, and in mid 1976, Furse ended up selling the prototype to Canberra School of Music.[24]
  • Implementation: Wire-wrapped Board[21]
first model[25] (c.1974)
  • Price: $15,000~ (3 voices~)[22]
  • CPUs: Interdata 7/16 processor[22]
  • OS: Real time OS[22]
  • Memory: 32 kb processor[22] (?)
  • Storage: Two 8" floppy drives[21] (256 kB)[22] — piece of music could be re-orchestrated without altering the data)[20]
  • User interfaces: 4 octave[21] keyboard, graphics display with lightpen.
  • Voices: 3~24 voices[22]
  • Synthesis: All-digital,[20] additive synthesis with FFT.[21]
  • Sequencer: (MUSEQ 8 sequence playing system[23])
  • User Interfaces: Multimode display (2 kB buffer)
mc6800 model (c.1975)[26]
  • CPUs: Dual Motorola 6800 @ 1MHz[21] (unusual parallel configuration to speed up data I/O)[20]
  • Storage: two 8" floppy disks
  • Memory: 4kB RAM (shared with the system and the 8 channel cards)
  • Voices: 1~ voice (default: 8 voices)[22]
8 voices (8× 20 cm square channel card, 1 bit DAC)[26]
  • Synthesis: Additive synthesis with FFT
  • Software: Sequencer, Music notation software[26]
  • User Interfaces: 4 octave keyboard, monochrome graphics monitor, lightpen
latest model (c.1980/1984)[22]
  • Price: $8,000~ (1 voice~)
  • CPUs: Dual Motorola 6800
  • OS: QDOS[27]
  • Memory: 8 kB RAM
  • Voices: 1~ voice (default: 8 voices)
  • Synthesis: As of 1984, Qasar M8 hardware supported following sound synthesis modes: 1. Additive synthesis: (a) time domain, (b) mixing, 2. "Phase summation", 3. Sampling ("progressive structure (mellotron)").[28]
  • Software: Fortran compiler for programming, custom software developed by order.[29]
  • Sequencer: MUSEQ 8 sequence playing system, for the composition and the performance of music)[23]
  • Options: As of 1984, Terminal interface (8 terms supported), Terminal display, Terminal analog panel ($150), External sound digitiser ($1,650), Visual effects generator interface ($1,000), Custom interfaces ($1,000~), 10 MB mass storage & controller ($12,600), 9 track magnetic tape & controller ($8,800), Extra sound synthesiser modules ($4,900)[30]

MUSEQ 8 sequence playing system (c.1974–c.1979)[23][27][31][32]

Developed by Creative Strategies (Tony Furse)

Qasar Polyphone 8 (c.1974)[33][34][35]

Developed by Creative Strategies (Tony Furse)
  • Voices: 8 voices

Qasar M8 CMI (Multimode 8 Computer Musical Instrument)[20] (1975–1977 or 1976[20][21])

Made by Fairlight, under the license from Creative Strategies[21]
  • Price: $20,000 base price
  • Implementation: Printed Circuit Board[20]
  • CPUs: Dual Motorola 6800
  • OS: QDOS (Qasar DOS, an adaptation of MDOS (Motorola DOS) with a full implementation of the lightpen)[21]
  • Storage: Hole paper tape reader
  • Memory: 4 kB per voice
  • Voices: 8 voices (no sampling, just numeric additive synthesis with 128 harmonics)
  • Synthesis: Additive synthesis; dynamic harmonic control, waveform editing. (sampling function was added in 1978[21])
  • Keyboard: 6 octave keyboard (with a better quality of the touch)[21]

CMI Series I (1979)

Musical sampler was introduced.
  • Price: ~£18,000[2]
  • CPUs: Dual Motorola 6800
  • Storage: Two 8" floppy drives
  • Memory: 16 kB per voice, System: 64 kB, Video: 16 kB (512x256 pixels)
  • Voices: 8 voices of polyphony
  • Synthesis: waveform drawing via lightpen; dynamic harmonic control, waveform editing
  • Sampling: 8 bits at 16 kHz (mono)
  • Sequencer: Basic keyboard sequencer, Musical Composition Language (MCL),
  • Keyboard: 73 note unweighted velocity sensitive + slave keyboard

CMI Series II (1980)

  • Price: ~£25,000
  • CPUs: Dual Motorola 6800
  • Storage: Two 8" floppy drives
  • Memory: 16 kB per voice, System: 64 kB, Video: 16 kB (512x256 pixels)
  • Voices: 8 voices of polyphony
  • Synthesis: dynamic harmonic control (Page 4); waveform generating (Page 5); waveform drawing via lightpen (Page 6)
  • Sampling: 8 bits at 2100 Hz to 30.2 kHz (mono) (Page 8)
  • Sequencer: Basic keyboard sequencer (Page 9), Musical Composition Language (MCL, Page C), Realtime Composer (Page R)
  • Keyboard: 73 note unweighted velocity sensitive + slave keyboard
  • I/O: No MIDI, optional CV/Gate interface (Page A)

CMI Series IIx (1983)

  • Price: ~£27,000
  • CPUs: Dual Motorola 6809
  • Storage: Two 8" floppy drives
  • Memory: 16 kB per voice, System: 256 kB, Video: 16 kB (512x256 pixels)
  • Voices: 8 voices of polyphony
  • Synthesis: waveform drawing via lightpen; dynamic harmonic control; waveform editing; FFT (additive resynthesis)
  • Sampling: 8 bits at 2100 Hz to 30.2 kHz (mono) (Page 8)
  • Sequencer: Page R, Basic keyboard sequencer, Musical Composition Language (MCL)
  • Keyboard: 73 note unweighted velocity sensitive + slave keyboard

CMI Series III (1985)

  • Price: £40,000[3] or £60,000[2]
  • CPUs: Dual Motorola 6809 CPUs, and one 6809 CPU for each voice card, one Motorola 68000 (to 68020) for waveform processor card
  • Storage: Hard drive and Tape DC600 Streamer (ESDI, SCSI), one 8" floppy drive
  • Memory: 14 MB, expandable to 32 MB and maximum 64 MB on last hard revision (RAM RAM disk), System: 356 kB
  • Voices: 16 voices of polyphony (expandable)
  • Synthesis: waveform drawing via graphics tablet; waveform editing; FFT (additive resynthesis)
  • Sampling: 16 bits at 100 kHz (mono) or 50 kHz (stereo)
  • Sequencer: CAPS (Composer, Arranger, Performer Sequencer), 80 track polyphonic, Musical Composition Language (MCL),
  • Keyboard: 73 note unweighted velocity sensitive (MIDI compatible)

CMI Series 30A (30th Anniversary) (announced in 2009, released in 2011)

  • Price: ~$20,000
  • User Interfaces: Retro look and feel of the original CMI
  • Sound architecture: based on the new Crystal Core
CMI-30A Hardware Specifications
  • System Components:
    • Mainframe — free-standing and adaptable to rack mount, includes 500GB SATA hard drive, DVD R/W drive, USB ports.
              (Welded aluminium enclosure. Width:58 cm, Depth:50 cm, Height:30 cm, Weight:32 kg)
    • Monitor — 17" 1280 x 1024 pixels
              (Width:51 cm, Depth:28 cm, Height:38 cm, Weight:12 kg)
    • Lightpen — Precision machined stainless steel pointer with left/right click button
    • QWERTY keyboard — 85 clicky keys, USB output
    • Music keyboard — Fatar 76 key TP40GH, with weighted keys and hammer action for a real piano feel,
      velocity and aftertouch, pitch wheel, mod wheel, 3 assignable rotary controls, 2 assignable switches, assignable multitouch colour screen
              (Width:130 cm, Depth:44 cm, Height:9.5 cm, Weight:25 kg)
  • Audio Outputs:
    • 12 channels analogue, balanced TRS
    • 2 channels analogue monitor mix, balanced TRS (front panel access)
        (Dynamic range > 100 dB (unweighted); THD < 0.002% @ 1 kHz, -1dBFS; Frequency response +0.05 / -0.15 dB, 20 Hz – 20 kHz)
    • Digital output: 64 channel BNC MADI
  • Audio Inputs:
    • 2 balanced mic/line inputs XLR, phantom power 48V option
        (Sample rate: 44.1, 48, 96, 192 kHz; THD < 0.002% @ 1 kHz, -1dBFS; Frequency response +0.05 / -0.15 dB, 20 Hz – 20 kHz)
    • SPDIF
  • Other I/O:
    • USB, Pedal x 3
    • MIDI and MIDI Timecode input and output via 5 pin DIN
    • LTC (Linear Time Code) input and output
    • Word clock (for synchronisation to external sources)
  • Power:
    • 100–240V AC — Mainframe & Keyboard: 9W, Monitor: 50W

Fairlight Pro App for iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad, iOS 4.0 or later. (2011)

  • Price: £29.99
  • User Interfaces:
    • Authentic Fairlight CMI user interface.
  • Sound Library:
    • Entire original Fairlight CMI IIX Sound Library containing 564 voices.
    • 100+ selected CMI III sounds – play the CMI voices from an external MIDI input or the on-screen keyboard.
  • Software:
    • Ability to create instrument sets that store settings for all 8 channels, including the voices, pitch shifts, volumes, release times etc.
    • Import/export voices, compositions, MIDI and instruments.
    • Display voices graphically using 'Page D', and change your viewpoint by tilting the iPhone/iPad
  • Sequencer: 8 track composition using 'Page R' pattern-based sequencer.
  • I/O: Audiobus Audio Routing Support (ability to combine in tandem with other running sound processing/recording apps)

Sound clips

Note: These sound clips require an Ogg Vorbis player. Click here for a list of downloadable players.

An excerpt from Arpegiator (recorded October 1981), highlighting the use of the Fairlight CMI

Problems playing this file? See .
  • A sequenced, multi-sound song played on the Fairlight CMI. Composer: Greg Holmes

Note: These sound clips require an MP3 player.

Two tracks showing Mode 4 (sampling) and Mode 2 (synthesis) and Page-R capabilities on a Fairlight CMI II and a small analog mixer

  • JMS, 2009-09-12
  • JMS, 2009-09-13

Artists who used the Fairlight CMI

Devo used the CMI extensively on their 1984 album, Shout, but only occasionally after that (mostly being used by frontman Mark Mothersbaugh's music composing company, Mutato Muzika). It also appears as a prop in their home video release, We're All Devo, where it is used by Timothy Leary's character.

Jan Hammer was one of the most prolific composers to use the Fairlight in the 1980s, particularly for his work on the television series Miami Vice, for which he provided the theme song as well as an entire catalog of score music throughout the first three seasons.

The Fairlight CMI also makes an appearance being operated by Nick Rhodes in Duran Duran's video "The Reflex". Al Di Meola's Sequencer video has many shots of the Fairlight CMI and its software. You can see Fairlight CMI (series II presumably) in the music video "Etude" by Mike Oldfield (track from the album The Killing Fields, can be seen on the Elements DVD). A monitor of a Fairlight CMI appears at the 1985 music video "Machine Age Voodoo (Junk Funk)" from the Band SPK. It can also be seen in the Queen documentary "Magic Years" and on the back cover of Mecano's live album.

Herbie Hancock made an appearance on Sesame Street in the early 1980s demonstrating the Fairlight.

Jean Michel Jarre's 1983 album Zoolook and the single of the same name features the Fairlight's extremely famous Sararr lead throughout the song, predominately in the chorus and with the sampled voices.

David Hirschfelder made extensive use of the Fairlight CMI while recording with John Farnham for the 1986 album Whispering Jack.

Hans Zimmer used the CMI III to make the soundtrack for the Oscar-winning 1988 film, Rain Man.

Having incorporated the Fairlight extensively into their music in the 1980s, the Pet Shop Boys also repeatedly used it for their TV performances, especially during frequent Top of the Pops appearances. Chris Lowe can clearly be seen operating a Series III Fairlight (along with an Emulator II) on TOTP during the 1987 song Always On My Mind.



  • Vail, Mark (2000). Keyboard Magazine Presents Vintage Synthesizers: Pioneering Designers, Groundbreaking Instruments, Collecting Tips, Mutants of Technology. Backbeat Books.  
  • Chapman, Jill (2012), Guide to the Qasar Tony Furse archive (PDF), Sydney, Australia: Powerhouse Museum, 96/382/2 


  1. ^ a b "Mix Announces Certified Hits of NAMM 2011". Mix (28 January 2011). 
  2. ^ a b c Leete, Norm. "Fairlight Computer". Sound On Sound (April 1999). The original CMI started at about £18,000, going up to £27,000 for the Series II and finishing up at £60,000 for the Series III. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Holmes, Greg (2010-09-17). "The Holmes Page: The Fairlight CMI". GH Services. 
  4. ^ "Fairlight History". 
  5. ^ "Peter Vogel history".  — with links to some Fairlight history and photos
  6. ^ Vail 2000, p. 214.
  7. ^ a b c d e Stewart, Andy. "Name Behind the Name: Bruce Jackson — Apogee, Jands, Lake Technology". Audio Technology (40). 
  8. ^ Manning, Peter (2004). Electronic and computer music. Oxford UP. p. 225.  
  9. ^ "Interview: Electronic maestros". New Scientist (26 March 2005). 
  10. ^ "Fairlight CMI – history". Candor Chasma. 
  11. ^ "Fairlight Instruments 30th Anniversary CMI". Peter Vogel Instruments. 
  12. ^ "CMI App for iPad and iPhone". Peter Vogel Instruments. 
  13. ^ Dawson, Giles (4 August 1983). "Machines alive with the sound of music".  
  14. ^ "Fairlight – The Whole Story". Audio Media magazine (January 1996). 
  15. ^ Olmsted, Tony (2003). Folkways Records: Moses Asch and Folkways Records. New York, N.Y.: Routledge.  
  16. ^ "About us". Erdenklang Musikverlag. 
  17. ^ Hubert Bognermayr; Harald Zuschrader. "Erdenklang - Computer-Acoustic Dance Theatre". Ars Electronica 1982. Ars Electronica ( Archived from the original on 2006-01-28.  (see also other archive)
  18. ^ "Phil Collins - No Jacket Required". Genesis News. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  19. ^ COIL - Part 1 - rare unedited May 2001 interview w/ John Balance & Peter Christopherson (video). YouTube. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Tony Furse archive re computer musical instrument Qasar M8, 1965–1980".  , (collection image); Full descriptions are found on: Chapman 2012
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Fairlight Qasar". Candor Chasma. 2005–2007. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i Furse, Tony (August 1984), "Qasar Multimode 8 Synthesizer" (PDF), Lecture notes: Presented at  
  23. ^ a b c d Chapman 2012, p. 3, Biographical Note "After having made a deal with the large American electronics company, Motorola to use their programme development system, Furse was able to develop the MUSEQ 8 sequence playing system. The idea was that the MUSEQ 8 system, when used in conjunction with his M8, could be used by composers of all kinds of music, not just electronic, for the composition and the performance of music. Another major innovation with the M8 synthesiser was Furse's use of two 8-bit Motorola 6800 microprocessors in an unusual parallel configuration which greatly speeded up data input and output."
  24. ^ Chapman 2012, p. 4, Biographical Note (cont.)
  25. ^ Furse 1984, pp. 6–7, System available
  26. ^ a b c Candor 2007, M8 technical features
  27. ^ a b Computer software and firmware for CMI M8 Programmes and Experiments, Sydney, Australia (Cardboard boxes (4) containing labelled 8 inch floppy disks, a handwritten letter and annotated computer printouts), ca. 1978–1980; Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-10 ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 49
    • Furse, Tony, IBM diskette 1, MUSEQ SYSTEM (8 inch floppy disk), ca. 1974–1979; Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-10/2/8, Drive: 1 Disk I.D.: QDOSYS", "MUSEQ SYSTEM ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 51
    • Furse, Tony (March 1979), Memorex markette, System Disk - QDOS 02.01 & MAINZ Z8 SYSTEM 14-03-79 (8 inch floppy disk), Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-10/3/4, Drive: 0 Disk I.D.: QDOSYS", "MUSEQ BACKUP 1-4-79 ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 52
    • Furse, Tony (April 1979), IBM diskette 1, MUSEQ SYSTEM BACKUP 6.4.79 (8 inch floppy disk), Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-10/3/5, Drive: 1 Disk I.D.: QDOSSYS", "MUSEQ SYSTEM ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 52
  28. ^ Furse 1984, p. 6, Short Hardware Description "The Qasar M8 operated in several modes for sound synthesis - ..."
  29. ^ Furse 1984, p. 8, Programming Language & Systems
  30. ^ Furse 1984, p. 7, The available options are
  31. ^ Furse, Tony (Creative Strategies Pty Ltd) (1974–1990), Reports, Proposals and Talks, Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-5 ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 28
    • MUSEQ 8 - A General Purpose Musical Sequence Programming System, Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-5/12 ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 31 (see below)
    • Introduction to Museq Command Structure, Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-5/12 ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 31 "MUSEQ was a polyphonic sequencer programming system for the QASAR M8 synthesiser. Information in these reports includes an overview of the various application of MUSEQ including: uses of the QASAR M8 MUSEQ 8 combination for composers; the various applications of MUSEQ 8 software using 8 inch floppy disks, among them communication via the international User Group library, programming musical sequences and command uses for the MUSEQ software system using 8 inch floppy disks."
    • Furse, Tony (February 1978), Report to Australia Council on Computer Synthesiser Project 22/2/74 to 16/2/78 (transcripts: draft copy/photocopies), Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-5/13, 96/382/2-5/14, 96/382/2-5/15 ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 31 "In it Furse : Outlines his dealings with the American company, Motorola, in using their programme development system to develop his sequence playing system, MUSEQ-8. Describes his association with Don Banks of the Canberra School of Music which included the sale of the protype QASAR M8 (Multimode) synthesiser to the School for use in its electronic music studio. Gives an account of the work he carried out in developing the CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) in association with Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie of Fairlight Instruments. "
  32. ^ Furse, Tony, MUSEQ DETAILS (computer printout, 4 pages), ca. 1974–1979; Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-7/6/3, MUSEQ: SEQUENCER FOR M8 MK.1 ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 38
  33. ^ Correspondence, Tony Furse, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Oct 1973- May 1990, Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-3 ; described on: Chapman 2012, p. 10
  34. ^ Furse, Tony (Creative Strategies Pty Ltd) (18 May 1974), "QASAR Polyphon 8 Block diagram", Circuit Diagrams, Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-4/3 ; described on: Chapman 2012, pp. 12, 15
  35. ^ Furse, Tony (Creative Strategies Pty Ltd) (1974–1990), Reports, Proposals and Talks (96/382/2-5), Powerhouse Museum 96/382/2-5/2, 96/382/2-5/3, 96/382/2-5/8, 96/382/2-5/9, 96/382/2-5/10, 96/382/2-5/11 ; described on: Chapman 2012, pp. 28–31.
  36. ^ As heard, for instance, on her 1988 hit "Buffalo Stance".
  37. ^ 1984's Under Wraps album was almost all Fairlight-recorded.

External links

  • Fairlight Main Site
  • Fairlight App for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad
  • Fairlight Instruments
  • Herbie Hancock plays a CMI on Sesame Street
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from School eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.