Discussion in 'Acoustic & Orchestral instruments' started by Niah2, Jan 27, 2019.
Makes your forget about samples !
Yeah, this is amazing. I've watched it twice already. Would love to have a private tour, love Nathan's passion for the vintage stuff.
actually it kind of makes me want MORE samples, because what he has is quite insanely far from my reality. I can at least collect more unusual instruments as kontakt libraries.
All I can think of is how much money that would cost and how many loans he might have had to take out lol. Love his stuff though.
I've been there - Nathan gave me the full tour, including a half hour sitting up in the guts of the Wurlitzer while he commanded his legions of minions to trigger each and every freaking stop on the thing.
He needs professional counseling, no doubt.
The man-hours that went into restoring that thing... multiple years. So much had to be hand-fabricated by the few people that know what the hell to do. Not like you can shop around for the best guy to rebuild a Wurlitzer like that. It's not like re-fretting a guitar! Everything works. Everything that could wear out has been replaced. All of the felt and leather bits in all of the bellows, flaps, etc. - all fresh. All of the drums in the percussion section - new and shiny.
It's beyond. Just utterly beyond.
Never mind the fact that the entire keyboard console communicates with the brains via a single Ethernet cable (!!!) and in a closet is a stack of custom computer stuff that completely replaces the archaic system. Originally, I guess the air came into the keyboard, and the stops and keys mechanically opened valves to allow air to trigger the various instruments in the loft. No more. Ethernet from the keyboard controls a bank of computers that operate solenoids to allow air from the blower to trigger the instruments, bypassing the old system entirely. Oh, and a byproduct of that computerization is that it now has a full sequencer, so performances can be recorded and played back. It might even have MIDI, or that's in the works, or something... by the time Nathan was explaining the computer bits (which you can briefly see in that video - they're the exposed circuit boards with red and green LEDs at the bottom of the spiral staircase) my brain was melting.
The building was a big square shell, already zoned commercial (used to be an energy drink distribution center or something), and the footprint did not need to be changed - so no issues there. But he gutted it and went to town. He did add a tiny outbuilding to house the air blower for the Wurlitzer, so it's completely de-coupled from the main building. The air blower is pretty bonkers by itself, as you can imagine, but the result is that he's got the quietest Wurlitzer that's ever been installed, anywhere, in all of human history. In the main recording space there is ZERO mechanical noise from the blower. Ridiculous.
The main recording space is large, and his control room is comfy, with a rear wall covered in bookshelves and filled with strategically placed and sized books to create an ideal diffuser. It looks great, and the client lounge is ingeniously placed upstairs - so producers etc. can sit around on couches, with a full kitchen, and look down into the main space from on high, leaving Nathan alone in the control room for less distractions. Great idea. Plenty of parking for orchestral sessions too. Like, LOTS of parking.
Since he doesn't have a JunkieXL style collection of analog boat anchors, his control room is crisp and clean and completely uncluttered. Two 500-series racks, a very large sit-stand desk with a keyboard, a FaderMaster, and some displays. B&W monitors I think? I didn't see any VEPro slaves, none of the chaos you usually see. One Mac Pro cylinder I think, maybe a Mac Mini for VideoSlave (not sure exactly), and some Cat5 headphone boxes (Aviom maybe?), and that's it in the machine closet. So the tech side is high-end but really really simple. No console, no racks of outboard - just two 500-series racks of nice preamps. DONE.
I'm sure that purchasing the building and doing a fully-floated space inside it cost less than what he spent on the Wurlitzer, even at that scale. But, hey - he loves that shit. One really really cool thing he's doing is hosting concert performances on the Wurlitzer at his studio. Guests are seated in the main space and get to hear the full thunder of the mighty Wurlitzer live, comin' at 'em through the air. I'm going to the next one on Feb. 9th. If I survive, I will report back.
I'm green with envy Charlie!
I totally love these "Spitfire films" and this one is the grandaddy of em all.
They installed a restored pipe organ in the college I went to and I used to love hanging out with those craftsmen and the instructor that played it.
Not even close to the level of that Wurlitzer though.
Amazing stuff for sure!
It's just goddam beyond everything!
This is kind a weird. I mean it is fantastic and I am super jealous, but I feel it is tooooo much stuff for my taste. I would feel trapped in all the opportunities.... or maybe not
I'd like to hope that more composers and maybe even bands will use that facility.
And more places like that are built by folks who have the means.
Well, I just got back from a concert featuring Richard Hills playing selections from classic films on the mighty Wurlitzer at Nathan Barr's studio, as seen in the video up top. Cole Porter cues from "High Society", a western medley, a haunting medley from Franz Grothe's score for the 1941 German film "Illusion", and of course "Hooray For Hollywood" - and that was just the first half.
There were more than 100 people in attendance, and Nathan gave a little talk about the history of the instrument before the concert, and then, with live video being beamed down to a large screen in front of the audience, he crawled through the guts of the beast while describing each section as Richard would play a few notes on each stop to demonstrate - and of course Richard would improvise funny music to accompany Nathan's struggles to squeeze between the ranks! There were a lot of slack jaws in the crowd.
And then Richard proceeded to play over an hour's worth of elaborate music entirely from memory - no sheet music needed! It's fascinating to hear, and amazing to watch the vertical shutters opening and closing in response to the volume pedal as Richard manipulated the dynamics of his performance. The instrument is not "velocity sensitive" and all of the ranks produce sound at a fixed volume, so the vertical shutters function as a mechanical "expression slider". Truly amazing.
It was a fun time, and the audience was in awe of Richard's talents and Nathan's obsession / creation. Many in the audience were not film composers or techno-geeks; I suspect there's a wider community of theater organ and vintage movie score buffs that Nathan has somehow figured out how to reach. The studio is top-shelf and crispy-clean, and the whole situation is truly a one-of-a-kind thing.
Kudos to Nathan for all of the hard work and expense that he's put into the project, and for sharing it with the world. What a guy.
Thanks for sharing that Charlie.
Sounds like an amazing evening.
That customized height-adjustable desk w/pullout keyboard is a cream dream. Makes me wonder what the actual keyboard is? Looks like he stripped the casing off it and had it built into the wood. Very cool.
Utterly insane and yet completely cool and tasteful. Absolute dream. Thanks for the report Charlie.
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