Yamaha CS80

Yamaha CS80

16th of August 2021
The Yamaha CS80 that currently lives in my studio (the synth you’ll know from Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire) used to belong to Peter Howell of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and was used by him throughout the late 70s and 80s.

The Memory Panel of the CS80

One of the ways I managed to track the synth back to Peter himself, was this wonderful handwritten note inside the Memory Panel. It says, “Please Leave – PH 28/1/84”. Whether or not that instruction has been obeyed since 1984 is hard to say, but Peter confirmed that that was in fact his handwriting, and that in 1984 he had been working on two BBC projects, one called “Dancer” and another called “Tyrone Crystal”.

“I used it extensively for the all of the 13 part series, The Body in Question with Jonathan Miller. In fact, it was hired for that purpose, and I became so at one with it that The BBC eventually bought it for me. After that it sort of became my signature sound for a while. I loved the pitch strip on the top. The ability to ‘take over’ the pitch you were playing from anywhere on the strip and play it like a violin string was fascinating and, I may be wrong, but I don’t think that has been replicated since.”
◦ Peter Howell, BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Recording the Dr Who theme

Here’s a video of Peter himself demonstrating how to make the Dr Who theme on this very instrument.

A Sense of Space Why Your Cue Doesn't 'Work'

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