Zorx Electronics
Inspire the Music: 50 years of Roland History; Patch & Tweak with Korg - Bjooks

Inspire the Music: 50 years of Roland History; Patch & Tweak with Korg - Bjooks

by Ian Rapp

Bjooks has been on a roll of late, issuing beautiful manufacturer-spotlighted books on Roland and Korg, and they’re as irresistible to any synth enthusiast as they are to fans of excellent design. Even if [dare I say] you aren’t much into electronic music gear, Bjooks new Inspire the Music: 50 years of Roland History and Patch & Tweak with Korg [and their previously released Patch & Tweak with Moog] are hard to resist.
Inspire the Music: 50 years of Roland History details the ins and outs of the Japanese instrument maker, examining their incredible influence on popular [and less-popular!] music for the past half-decade. Let that sink in for a second…a half decade. Printed on certified eco-friendly paper and over 400 pages with beautiful photography and a well-heeled layout, Inspire the Music is as much a wonderful tribute to Roland as it is an eye-catching coffee table book.
While your brain [like mine] might be thinking 808s and Jupiters, Inspire the Music covers everything from those categories to everything else Roland has made including groove boxes, electric pianos, electronic drums, BOSS pedals, and so much more. I think I was assuming that this book would be about synths and drum machines only, but it’s a very thorough history of the company. It’s a beautiful, interesting, and informative look that includes over sixty articles, from their illustrious company history to the history of their design principles and production issues and techniques. It’s fascinating to trace the evolution of some of their products, with insight from those who helped create them. On top of this, there are over ninety interviews with musicians and artists, and the genre span is impressive. It really has something for everyone and so many interesting stories and surprises. The interviews can be quite candid, and while they are Roland-centric, it never comes off like a Roland brochure. With a great foreword by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, it’s another great offering from Bjooks. It’s impressively thorough and a great read.
Patch & Tweak with Korg is of personal interest as it was a MonoPoly that first got me into synths way back when. At 216 pages Patch & Tweak with Korg focuses on Korg’s patchable models, their reissue ARPs, as well as Volcas, the SQ-1 and SQ-64 sequencers and a few others. This book has an intro written by Kitaro, whose input that helped shape Korg’s synths, and has been a lifelong user of the recently reissued MiniKorg-700S, and the rest of the interviews are quite varied. I found the Pete Townsend section to be really interesting, especially his philosophies on gear and songwriting, something that doesn’t always get enough mention in gear-centric circles like the synth crowd oftentimes.
This book has a lot of tips/tricks on patching with the various patchable Korg/ARP reissue synths and there are quite a few helpful ideas included. This does have much more of a manual aspect than Inspire the Music, and I’m not sure if non-Korg owners will find it as interesting, but it does have a lot of pages dedicated to synth basics, so even non-Korgers [how dare they!] can still get a lot out of this book. Granted there is a lot for the newb, but there’s still plenty for the expert, and there were some patching tips I learned about my ARP 2600M that I found in the pages here, though I’ll let you discover whatever unknown functions you’re unaware of for yourself as I don’t want to give the plot of the book away! [Spoiler alert: there is no plot.]
The shelf with my Bjooks books is getting more crowded and prettier with each release and I can’t wait to see what’s next in line. I’ve already made room.

Price: $75 Inspire the Music: 50 years of Roland History, $45 Patch & Tweak with Korg