The very first sketches, which later became part of the «Amber Sketches», were written in the second half of the 90s, when I studied at the Theremin Center (Moscow Conservatory). I attended Andrei Smirnov’s lectures on the history of electroacoustic music.
The Theremin Center computer studio had the following equipment at the time:
- Atari 1040ST + Cubase;
- Roland S-50;
- Yamaha TG33;
- E-mu Proteus/1;
- E-mu Procussion;
- and more.
To gain access to the equipment, one had to justify in writing his or her future project. But I had problems with that. I couldn’t line up a clear idea in my head, I just wanted to sequence the tunes that I composed earlier. The problem was that, in my view, this idea absolutely would not do for a serious electroacoustic project. “I want to just sit down and work” did not sound like a solid justification.
But the long-awaited moment came, the studio was free, and I finally got access to all its splendor. So I sat down to work (without any written justification) and learn Cubase on-the-fly.
The first opus died almost instantly: while I was listening in awe to the tracks I had just sequenced, the cleaner came in and without further ado turned off the master-switch in the room. The song was not yet saved to the floppy disk. I still believe that that very first one was truly brilliant 🙂 (since then I save the project on which I am currently working, every five minutes, just in case).
Then things got better. The recording sessions were just great. I had no time for my previously composed tunes, as the new ones kept coming on-the-fly as soon as I touched the keyboard and selected a new patch. There were so many new musical ideas. I did not do final mixes, as I had no time for that as well, and in fact it was still too early for final mixes. I just copied my music sketches to tape at the end of each session, to listen to them at home and decide which ones to work on in the first place, and which ones to put aside.
However, it turned out that I had to postpone everything. And for a long time. (And when the time had passed, I realized that I could not restore sessions in their original form anymore, because for some reasons I lost access to all equipment on which the tunes were based.)
I will never forget those April sessions because for the first time in my life I saw the musical ideas flow like a steady stream, and I only had to record them. Yamaha TG33 especially contributed inspiration. And not only Yamaha TG33.
Then it was July, and I came across a book by Roger Zelazny, “Nine Princes in Amber”, and started to realize what I was actually composing during those sessions.
Some of the music written then is now finished, mixed and titled “Amber Sketches”.