Theremin & Roland's "D-Beam"

Posted: 11/23/2009 3:06:28 PM

From: sparks nv

Joined: 11/23/2009

Was wondering if anyone has played with the D beam on some Roland synths (like the Juno G). All I've been able to do with the ^&^%$!!!! thing is make it squeal (I'm a keyboard player.. used to pushing buttons). I'm "assuming" there is a way to modify (program?) this input into the tone generators (to produce a somewhat theremin like sound.
Any suggestions?
Posted: 11/24/2009 6:35:39 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Hi b3
I havnt actually done what you want with D-Beam or Juno G.. but a few years ago a a friend had a Roland Synth with D-beam and I played it briefly.. Am no expert, and memory may be innacurate.. So everything I say below should begin with "I think .. but could be wrong.. ;-)"

One can get reasonable sensing distance - perhaps 30cm - but the resolution decreases the further this distance. It is possible to patch D-Beam to pitch bend (or it was on the Roland I played) but the range was limited to (I think) less than one octave.. In fact, I think it was more like +/- 1ST.

I really enjoyed playing with the D-Beam as a 'bender' - but it was a bender, and needed the keyboard input to play a tune.. I doubt that it would be any use for Theremin 'emulation' .. I think it is intended as an expression controller - for modulation of oscillators, filters etc.. and for those functions it was great - combined with aftertouch keyboard (which the Roland I played had, and I think the Juno G has) it allows great control of monophonic leads, and I much prefered the "no contact" control of the D-Beam to bend wheel or joystick.. It seemed far more intuitive and accurate (but I hate pitch-bend wheels - they are never biased correctly, springs either too tight or too sloppy, and I always find they become uncomfortable if one is doing long lead lines using them extensively - in my case I use the bender a lot - mostly to correct bum notes I play! - rapid "correctional" bending allows the note to be moved +/- 1st without retriggering it, as one would do if actually correcting it - and adds a rapid gliss which sounds ok usually - sometimes even better than when played correctly! ;-)

A problem you might have is in what controller assignments your synth allows.. It will almost certainly allow the D-Beam to be patched to pitch bend, modulation, filter cut-off.. but may not allow more intricate patching, such as assigning it directly to oscillators etc - You need to get the manual and MIDI specification.. You might be able to 'hack' it by assigning the D-beam to some MIDI controller used internally for some other function.

Anyway - I have emailed my friend (now in Australia) and given a link to here.. He is an engineer and now into Theremins, so if there is a way to use the D-Beam as a Theremin, I am sure he will have found it!
Posted: 11/26/2009 1:16:22 PM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

I have made it squeal a few times and I actually used it on a track (double-trakced squealing!).

I am almost positive that you could send a nice tone through it and use it. The field is pretty tight, though. Also, If I remember correctly, it is a bit quantized so at least you'll be playing actual notes...
Posted: 11/30/2009 2:54:11 PM

From: Fort Worth, TX

Joined: 7/10/2009

I have an SH-201 synth (it's pretty good, very user-friendly). It has the D-Beam you speak of and like you, I haven't been able to use it as a Theremin-like instrument.

As FredM already said, it's mostly used for expression. I love using it for fades and tempo distortion, but I've never managed to create precise melodies with it alone. But if you'd like to try to create theremin-like sounds on it, you'd have to patch in a sound that sounds similar to the drone of a Theremin. The synth I have is analog, so I bet I could get somewhat close to that classic RCA sound. Not sure how Junos work, but if there's software available for it, or if it can be used as a MIDI controller, you might be able to create something on the computer. It would still lack the precise expression of the Theremin, however.

Since we're on the subject, if anyone's looking to buy a used synth for cheap, let me know. I use it far too little now I'm afraid, and it's not very apartment friendly. I hate to see it collect dust - it's a good synth.
Posted: 12/5/2009 1:48:26 AM

From: USA

Joined: 12/8/2007

The D-Beam is so much cooler than a theremin!

(Shoots self in head, leaves no note)

All kidding aside, I don't know anything about the D Beam other than it totally sucks. If you want to do some whacky stuff at a show and look really "cool" then play the d beam all day long. Otherwise All I get is zippered pitch changes from the Fantom G8.

NOW, if you wanted to be really cool, you could probably find out what Midi CC it uses and patch that to your synthesizer with midi and control the pitch of an OSC with that, but thats so much trouble you might as well just go build a theremin controller.

Im sure that it has its uses, but if you are brave enough to tackle the roland manuals you can probably move on to greater heights with the d beam.

Supposedly its assignable, and you might can assign it to tweak the filter, but theres already a filter pot on the fantom, I guess it depends on the unit the d beam is on. It always does the same thing on every roland ive seen, which is to suck majorly.

I woudl so love to be proven wrong about this but Im afraid thats all there is to say about the D-Beam. The name is cooler than the actual beam.

Posted: 12/5/2009 12:12:07 PM

From: sparks nv

Joined: 11/23/2009

Thanks All....
Pretty much what I suspected.... However... I thought I might get lucky (someones always crafty enough to push things past the limit).

OK... so now I need to buy (or build) one of these contraptions huh?

(What I'm looking for is more expression on strings & horns... especially would like to be able to do a realistic sax...)
Posted: 5/19/2013 7:45:53 PM

Joined: 5/19/2013

i have a keyboard name Roland Juno g.. today morning when i was turn on the keyboard it say turn of D Beam ......... nd now unable to play any sound or tone.... wt can i do ??????????  plzzzzzz ans me............... :'(


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