Recreating the DX7 for Who Wants to Live Forever – Wembley ’86
About the Yamaha DX7 Digital synth
The DX7 was a digital synth produced by Yamaha between 1983 and 1989. I was lucky enough to have used and borrowed a few DX7s back in the late 80s (it was probably between 1987 and 1989) and it was a fantastic synth for its time. I would guess that I used it for songs like Jump (Van Halen) at the time as Queen wasn’t on my radar (sadly) until the early 90s.
The DX7 and Queen
Queen had a DX7 and in the video showing the recording of ‘One Vision’ and you can see Brian playing the intro to One Vision on a Yamaha DX7. However, you will notice a MIDI cable on that video and the chances are this DX7 was only used as the MIDI Out and it was actually connected to some other synth for the final ‘One Vision’ intro we know and love – perhaps the Jupiter-8 as Queen had one of these also. In fact the Jupiter-8 was probably used to arpeggiate the Bass Riff of Radio Ga Ga. Anyway I digress, I have gone through all the DX7 patches and I cannot find any which match the One Vision sound, so it is doubtful it was used on the album version of the song from the ‘A Kind of Magic’ album.
The DX7 was apparently (I need confirmation on exactly which parts and patches) used on other songs such as A Kind of Magic, Who Wants to Live Forever, Pain Is So Close to Pleasure, One Year of Love, Rain Must Fall, Was It All Worth It and a few others. My best guess is that the DX7 was used as a base sound and the final album sounds were re-eingineered in the studio.
The one place we see promenent use of the Yamaha DX7 is when Queen played Wembley in June 1986. When playing ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ live, Brian used the Yamaha DX-7 with Syn-Orchestra (or Syn Orch) patch from Rom 2A and then the patch from Rom 2B for ‘I Want To Break Free’. These 2 songs follow each other on the set list, so it was probably setup this way because of the simplicity of using the same patch.
So, I decided to make a little video showing how you can connect a MIDI keyboard, synth or stage piano to a computer and recreate the same sounds. One problem – I don’t have a DX7 synth. Instead, I used the Synth Emulator DEXED. This is a free piece of software which is available for Mac/Windows/Linux and is closely modeled on the Yamaha DX7. The creators have built this to be companion software for the original DX7 and feature multi formats (VST, AU, LV2). The link for downloading DEXED is included on the DX7 YouTube Video at https://youtu.be/XssPitrqOXM
The Video is below and I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to leave comments here or on the video and don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for more Queen / music videos very soon.
There are a pre-loaded set of sounds included in the Dexed package and you can also upload presets from what I can see. Hope you enjoy using Dexed as much as I did. The DX-7 remains one of my favourite synths even though it pales in comparison to the complexity and polophony of the synth workstaions we have these days such as the Korg Kronos or Yamaha Fantom, it had a beautiful tone in some of it’s sounds (not all of them) and the retro in me would love to own a DX-7 !
UPDATE MAY 2020 : With that in mind, I just found out that the Korg Kronos has the MOD-7 engine which recreates the DX-7 sounds, so I really want a Kronos now after hearing that !!
If you have any comments about this DX7 / Who Wants to Live Forever video please leave them below or on the YouTube video.