In 1984, renowned piano player Chick Corea worked with Harold Rhodes in the creation of the Stage 73 Mark V electric piano. Over the next ten years, Corea and his team developed what they called the Number One, replacing hammers, developing custom electronics and creating an instrument that reflected the singular talent and innovation of its owner.
In 2009, after enduring years of pounding from one of modern music’s most innovative composers and performers, the keyboard became too fragile to take on the road. Before being shipped into storage, however, Corea and his tech team painstakingly sampled every note at Mad Hatter Studios in Los Angeles. After months of searching for the right technology platform, Corea took the massive amount of data to industry-leading sound designers, who developed Chick’s Mark V Sample Library for the Motif XF and worked with Keyfax NewMedia to bring it to the Motif community.
The library is being used by Corea in his Motif XF8 on the current Return to Forever reunion tour and is available for purchase by end users exclusively at www.motifator.com for $129.
“If you want to own a piece of musical history, or just be able to access a landmark Mark V that speaks with clarity, character and punch, this sample library is unparalleled,” said Athan Billias, Director of Marketing at the Pro Audio & Combo Division at Yamaha Corporation of America.
Corea’s direct involvement in the process makes this sampling session unique. A specially developed vorsetzer player piano mechanism helped capture pristinely balanced velocities across the entire keyboard scale. The library contains all of the original samples recorded in the meticulously engineered sampling sessions and consists of 12 unlooped velocity layers and note offs. The full, natural sustain of each note is meticulously maintained. Corea even provided several songs demos recorded on the Motif XF using the sounds that are included with the Motif XF library file.
Part of what makes this collection unique is the custom hammer and pre-amp configuration of Chick’s original electronic piano instrument. At F# above Middle C, Corea and his team modified the hammers from the standard neoprene to wood and sent the signal from those keys to a completely separate pre-amp with a specially designed EQ. This creates an almost split keyboard effect that lets notes in the treble register ring with a clarity and punch that is unavailable on a standard Mark V. The sound designers used proprietary Yamaha tools for sound compression so that this amazing collection fits easily onto a FL- 512M flashboard module for the XF.