Chapter 9/ Digital Audio Workstation & MIDI

With a little bit of fantasy, the 1979 released Fairlight CMI can be called the mother of all DAWs. Only well-to-do artists like Herbie Hancock, Kate Bush, Trevor Horn, Peter Gabriel, Thomas Dolby and Stevie Wonder could afford it. With its limited sound quality in mind, it is hard to believe that the British musicians’ union had serious worries whether its members would survive competition of the Fairlight (. . .). In hindsight, the gritty sound character caused by early digital technology (8 bit, 28 kHz) has definitely added to the Fairlight’s classic status. Songs like “Relax” (Franky Goes to Hollywood), “Rockit” (Herbie Hancock) and “Owner of a Lonely Heart” (Yes) would sound quite different without the instrument. Also note how much reverb producer Trevor Horn added to the lead vocals of the latter song!


Ricky Martin’s "Livin’ la Vida Loca" (1999) is known as the first in-the-box production.