Jean-Michel Jarre on the evolution of music technology: Part 2 | Native Instruments

My first instrument has been a tape recorder and a microphone. I remember that when I was, I don’t know 13, 14 years old, I had an old Grundig tape recorder that my grandfather gave me, or a Telefunken, I think
it was. I used to record what we were playing and play it reversed or slowed down. And then I went to the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, the Music Research Center, headed by Pierre Schaeffer. And Pierre Schaeffer became my mentor. Who actually is our father, or the grandfather to the whole
electronic music scene. Approaching the music with a total revolutionary
concept by saying just the simple idea that music is not only made of notes or harmonies, it’s made of sounds. It’s where I’ve been in contact for the
first time with electro-acoustic music – with what was going to become my life as a musician. My first approach has been really what later on we called sampling. At that time, we are talking about musique concrète. It means that you do music with concrete, organic and natural sounds. In those days, we were all dreaming about
a machine that could ease the process of recording and then creating your samples. And then one day the Fairlight came along. And it was like watching a plane for the first time or a car for the first time. Because suddenly, instead of spending hours doing your own samples on tape, you could just record your dog and play your dogs on five octaves. And that changed the whole thing. Suddenly this instrument gave me the idea, the concept, for one of my albums called Zoolook, where I said, okay, I really would like to do a vocal album but without singers. And the idea was to go all over the world and record – sample – some voices and some different vocals, process them in such a way that the vocal elements would be part of the orchestration and the arrangement itself. And that obviously is something I could only achieve with the Fairlight. When I see the Fairlight today, I see it with lots of affection and love. Because when you think that you could record and sample only 0.8 seconds was the maximum – in 8 bits! And we did so much with this instrument. And then these kinds of vibratos coming from the machine were creating something really great that you obviously couldn’t conceive without the limits of the instrument. And then, the old sampling concept became suddenly a modern way of doing music. And it created really the vocabulary for the future. The other sampling machine that was even more sophisticated, it came just a bit later on was the Synclavier. It was in those days like Mac and PC. You had the people from the Fairlight tribe and the people from the Synclavier tribe. Two different tribes. And I chose the Fairlight. So actually the next stage of sampling after the Fairlight has been probably the Emulator. Because the Emulator – three models – were in 12 bits and you were able to sample longer sounds. And it changed a lot. It was still quite raw. And then very quickly you started to have some other sampling, obviously, and the S1000 from Akai went and that killed almost everything else. I’m still using the Fairlight or the Emulator because they have such a specific sound. I mean, it’s like a guitar, actually. It’s
like if you take a Les Paul from the early 60s. It will have a specific sound that even the best Les Paul today wouldn’t have, as we know, as guitar players know. The same thing with sampling instruments. Because of the fact that it’s in 8 bits or 12 bits, you do something else. It has a definite different sound. You have a few steps in the history of sampling. If I could make a very rough resume of it, the Fairlight was one, and KONTAKT was the other one. It has been a big new change in music. So KONTAKT is not only a sampler, it
is also the platform from which you can create new instruments. So it’s only for musicians, it’s also for developers. And that’s the beauty of KONTAKT. I’m from Lyon, and there’s a big tradition
of cooking. And I approach sampling techniques like cooking. It’s exactly the same thing
– actually electronic music is like cooking. Instead of dealing with spices and veggies and all that, you deal with frequencies and textures and mixing them together. And actually an instrument such as KONTAKT is something that, it’s a concept… it’s like an oven for sound. It’s cool, it’s great. Sampling yourself
is very refreshing. I mean, after a while you are lazy and you say you have a great
sound of a cymbal; you have a great sound of this or that. And I’m using existing presets, taking sounds from the library. But it will never replace your own sound. Never. Even if it’s not as good technically, it will have something personal which can’t be replaced. So my advice definitely would be do your own sampling as much as you can. Now it’s time for me to talk about delays. My first instrument was the tape recorder. Maybe my second instrument is an echo chamber or delays. And my unbeatable delay – and I’m always coming back to it – was two Revox’s with tape and doing delays with tape and doing delays with analog tape. because This sound is actually probably 50% the sound of Oxygen, because 50% of it was made with delays. I’m obsessed by the sound of delays, and for years I’m trying to get a digital and a plug-in able to fulfill my needs. And it never happened. The digital delays were too automatic too mechanical. Until I found one, which is REPLIKA. When you are talking about textures and having the real richness and harmonics when you are creating a delay, and you want that that delayed sound, an event, has the right harmonic content. Very difficult digitally, very difficult in terms of plug-ins. And now actually even on finished tracks from the album before mixing the final mixes, I replaced some of the plug-ins I had with delays from other brands with REPLIKA. Because suddenly it gave the clarity and space, also. Because I’m using delays actually really to create some space, not necessarily to create the rhythmic effects. And I was always going back to the Revox and the analog process, the analog tape because it was the only one able to give me this kind of width. It was like a stereo enhancer for
me. And I found this with REPLIKA. Working with plug-ins makes your life so easy in terms of changing orders, changing things, changing the chain of the effects. And also the chain of parameters within the plug-in. Plug-ins allow you also to be extreme. The worst in any kind of art form is actually to be trapped by your own habits, to go back to the studio and do the same thing. Native Instruments is constantly offering me different solutions and also challenging myself. It’s exciting. I’m really like
a kid in front of new toys. Except that when you’re growing up, your toys are becoming maybe more serious. But it should keep their fun aspect.

82 Replies to “Jean-Michel Jarre on the evolution of music technology: Part 2 | Native Instruments”

  1. Oh man, Replika. This little thing, enhancing my Sound for like the last year. I don't use another Delay anymore, most of the time. Sometimes, i use like internal delays from MASSIVE, but i still put a Replika behind it. The filtering of the wet signal, the modes sound just great. Its like the internal Reverb from MASSIVE, which i love, because it gives so much ambience and wetness to any sound (mostly pads tho)

  2. RECTIFICATION: After the EMU machine, came around 1986 the S series of affortable samplers : S 612, S 700, S 900, and finally the serious S 1000 that ruined my finance but gave me so much pleasure.

  3. I think the "soft synth" called Roland D-50 (yes, 70% of the D-50 development was software) had unique sound to it and still does. Not sure why Jarre would call such instruments daft or underdeveloped, and then talking all superlatives about Fairlight or the Emulator II about being so great. Anyway, we may lose ourselves in the instruments without even playing them properly. To me, the most amazing use of the synthesizer is what Hiromi Uehara does with her Nord Lead 2. I mean, this is the way to play the synthesizer.

  4. The new technology changes the music as well as the old technology changes the modern music. It's the way that popular music , alternative music , electronic music change the style , the equipment , stuff and also other things. This is like an evolution. For example – If some of you are musicians or artists makes one new thing which is evolutionary for many people and inspire them. Also , your ' s talent has changes and evoluting to the another style. This is the way of art , our life is evoluting , change , we have the new experiences in life. In art it's the same thing , too. I'm the amateur artist and musician and I know that some modern musicians (for ex. Jean Michel Jarre , Armin van Buuren , Massive Attack, Above & Beyond , Daft Punk) changing the music style and have many inspirations for making art and being succesful musicians. I have also two friends who are also amateur/professional electronic musicians and DJ-s who are inspires by some of my favourite artists. One makes some music for the Windows and Android games and to the DJs. Another was maked the music for the trance music artists such as Dash Berlin , Paul Oakenfold and for music projects. I make music, too. I know that the style of electronic music and trance changes dynamic. So , I think that it's a big process but it would be boring if the artist makes music in the same style for many years. Artist can inspired by the old works and style and music , too but must change the style to make creative music. JMJ change the style of music with using the old accents and inspirations. JMJ is always an electronic music master ! 😉

  5. The vast majority of people who listen to JMJ don't know how a light switch works let alone a synthesizer.

    I love the way the man combines vintage gear with modern equipment.

  6. Never really did dig this guys work, I was more an Emerson, Wakemam, Chic and Jan kinda guy, but………….

  7. Who the hell Disliked the worlds biggest Synth Pioneer????He is father of the electronic music you fools!

  8. HYPERMEGALIKE.. MAN!!! Ja ja ja Thanks Native Instruments for this.
    Watch 6:31 – 6:44 was Great!!

  9. Do you own sampling as much as you can! Epic sample! OK, I want to make samples, and I purchase Kontakt, where is RECORD button?

  10. im the next jean michel jarre, i say this everywhere. he is good, he is most close to my music

  11. everyone cricitise my music even jean michel gets 10% dislike, so its normal to get dislikes

  12. I've never heard any producer compare electronic music production to cooking, but I have always said that and it's great to hear someone else verbalize it that way.

  13. I still use my playstation one with music 2000 as one my samplers can create some funky sounds on that still. It was JMJ that got me into eletronic music after the first time I heard Oxygene .

  14. Samplers & Delays, my most loved gear indeed…I still wish Korg comes with a miniature sampler to companion my Monotron Delay everywhere I go 🙂

  15. What is the black & blue sequencer software in the back at 3:03 ? [EDIT] ok, it's called den JMJ Sequencer or Jarre Matrix sequencer and was custom made by or for him in Max for Live apparently

  16. Native instruments we need a JMJ Kontakt plug.. I really would lofe to know a little more about his sampling techniques from Zoolook and where some of the sounds came from .. does anyone know more ?

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