Nord Keyboards this week announced a major addition to the Nord Sample Library, the sounds of the legendary Fairlight digital sampler. The Fairlight was the first commercially available polyphonic sampler when launched back in 1979 and it opened up the doors of sampling to many artists and producer during the 80’s. The sounds in this collection were all sampled from a newly overhauled Fairlight CMI System IIx, with detailed mapping to capture that characteristic Fairlight sound!
Not many instruments has made as big an impact on shaping sound of an era as much as the Fairlight™ digital sampler. The first “Fairlight CMI Series I” was introduced in 1979 and was one of the first commercially available products to allow polyphonic playback of samples.
The Fairlight™ CMI was designed by Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie in Sydney, Australia. A complete Fairlight™ system constisted of a rack processing unit, a musical keyboard, a computer keyboard and a unique monochrome computer screen. The Fairlight™ had a menu driven graphical interface that could be controlled with a special light sensitive pen.
With a retail price of around 25 000$, buying a Fairlight™ system was out of reach for most mortals but among the first buyers were established artists and producers like Peter Gabriel, Thomas Dolby, Kate Bush, and Richard James Burgess.
The original Fairlight™ could sample in 8-bit, 16 kHz, 8 voice polyphony and had a basic sequencer functionality. Later versions added increased the sample quality, polyphony, added support for MIDI (once it had been invented) and featured a more advanced sequencer known as “Page R”.
The last generation of the Fairlight™ CMI, “Series III” was produced in 1985. If you have an iPad, check out Peter Vogel’s “Fairlight Pro App” – a total recreation of a Fairlight™ system with support for the original CMI data files. The app let’s you try the graphical interface that once revolutionized the music of the 80’s.
The Nord Sample Library is compatible with the Nord Wave, Nord Electro 3/4, Nord Piano 2 and Nord Stage 2.