SAM Seminar: Encounters with the Fairlight Synthesizer

When:16 Oct 2018, 3:30pm - 5pm
Venue:Cinema 327, Robert Webster Building
Who:Adam Hulbert, Nicole Santilan and Isabella Loong, UNSW

The Fairlight

The Australian sampler and synthesiser Fairlight CMI was released to market in 1979, and went on to shape much of popular culture, adopted by music icons such as Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Handcock, and was used in soundtracks including Liquid Sky, Full Metal Jacket, Tron and The Never-Ending Story. Although its impact on the cultural landscape is formidable, this tells us little of what it means to have a relationship with this machine as it stands now. So, celebrating the recent restoration of UNSW’s own Series II Fairlight CMI, today’s seminar explores both the lineage of and encounter with this instrument from the peripheries of its reception.

Nicole Saintilan contextualises this instrument in relation to the constellation of machines that surround the Fairlight CMI. Isabella Loong presents her new work Circuit and explores Fairlight composition through the lens of Kate Bush. Adam Hulbert reconsiders the implications of the Fairlight’s notorious two-second ‘orchestra stab’ presets.

Dr Nicole Saintilan holds two PhDs, one of which traces the development and use of early synthesisers.

Adam Hulbert is the Convener for the Sonic Arts stream with the School of the Arts and Media.

Isabella Loong is an emerging Sydney-based sonic composer, artist, and producer. Her composition Circuit was the public debut of UNSW’s Fairlight.


SAM Seminar Series

This series provides a showcase and forum for local as well as international scholars, researchers, industry practitioners and creative artists – ranging from early-career to well-established – to present on their work. No need to book, all welcome.

Coming next:
Week 13 Tuesday, 23 October
Special Event: Provocations on Hope
SAM Scholars, Students and Friends
Visit the event page 

Find out more and see the full program.
Enquiries contact: SAM Seminar Convenor, Michael Richardson –

Finding us
Robert Webster Building is located mid-way off the UNSW main walkway. Map Reference G14. Cinema 327 is located on the third floor.

More information on getting to UNSW.
Download a campus map.  (PDF)

Supported by UNSW Creative Practice Lab

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