The beginning Playing accordion Connection At work S.V.E.M. At home earlier At home now

Theo Rijsdijk, Fred de Beer and I were the first to work in the new studio: SVEM, the Studio for Verbosonica and Electronic Music. In 1983 we started planning it and in january 1984 the studio was there. It was situated in the former VARA-studio, studio 2, an historic site, because it was the first studio in Hilversum special built for radio-purposes. It opened in 1932. And in 1984 it became the SVEM studio, the most modern one in Hilversum. However the mixingconsole was still old.

SVEM-studio januari 1984

The SVEM officially opened in January 1984. Ad Visser, a Dutch producer who worked for the AVRO, was the first to work in that studio. Cees Stolk was the musician who worked with him - actually did all the playing - and I was the engineer. That year colleague Fred de Beer and I also worked with Konrad Boehmer, a composer of "serious music".

Centre of the studio was the CMI Fairlight IIx, a great machine, but rather expensive. There were vocoders, synthesizers, Linn Drum and all kinds of effects  equipment. But the first signs of the upcoming economy measures were facts for us. One million guilders was reserved for the SVEM. But the first 100.000 was spent to make Studio 2 available for the SVEM, so that left 900.000 guilders for equipment. But the first year we could spend 100.000 only in 1983. The fantastic Drums of Roger Linn.
With the Fairlight and other synthesizers that 100.000 was invested. So for the upcoming year 1984 we had 800.000 to spend, for instance for a new and better mixingconsole. Wrong!  We were told that there was no more money. The amount of 800.000 guilders was scratched, before the SVEM even opened its doors.

In 1983 the Yamaha DX7 came out. We couldn't buy it, but I bought one myself in 1984 and when I worked in the SVEM I took it with me. I used it with the Ad Visser production and I used it for my own assignment.

One of the programs I very much liked to do was "de Taalshow". I am interested in languages and that is what this show was all about: "taal" (language). When the program changed it's name to "Wat een taal", they also wanted a different opening tune and I was asked to write it and play it. I agreed to do that, because I already had a theme I thought I could use.

Fairlight and 16-track taperecorder The first day I went into the studio I decided to write a part of the tune on the Fairlight with MCL, Music Composition Language. A very basic language that describes music and translates it to MIDI. It took me a long long time and I never used it after that. So part of the tune is done in the Fairlight by programming, but most of the main tune was simply played onto a 16-track taperecorder, as you can see in the picture. (Still got the tape, but nothing to play it on).
(Click the left photo to hear the entire tune).
Of course for a radioprogram the tune must not be this long (2'32"). But this tune is set up in a way that it is easy to cut it in all kinds of different lenghts. I actually made a tape with tunes of all possible durations.

Because the key changes during the tune and comes back at the original key, I made a seperate ending in another key. This tune was actually used for the end of the program. For the opening I had to do some additional editing with voices.
                         (Click the right photo to hear the opening tune).

Herco playing the Fairlight keyboard

But I made another tune for this program for which I used Fairlights rhythm sequencer. The photo below shows you how that looks. If you click the photo you hear this version. This became the opening theme for the program when the program itself was cut from 1 hour to 30 minutes, so there was no time to loose with tunes.

Wat een Taal "Verbosonic"

The SVEM took a lot of our time, because we were there before the customers came and long after they went away. But I also did radioplays and all kinds of other programs and 6 days a week were not uncommon. And the working days were not regular hours too, most of the time exceeding 10 hours and when I did three different jobs on one day there were usually 12 hours between goning to work and coming back home (travel distance between work and home being 30 minutes). And of course I also worked in the weekends, I did nightshifts and early shifts (starting at 5:30 am) and late shifts (ending at 1 am) were common too. But we didn't complain, because these hours were compensated too, so sometimes I could take four days off in a row without taking up holidays.

But there were only three of us in the SVEM, so it was soon decided two more people had to join us: Joost Brands and John van Waes. Joost was a composer, just like me, and had synthesizers himself and John van Waes had experience with the ARP synthesizers and did radioplays.