Showing posts with label TONTO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TONTO. Show all posts

Friday, June 21, 2024

The Greatest Synth in History | T.O.N.T.O

video upload by Anthony Marinelli Music

"Dive into the revolutionary world of T.O.N.T.O, the legendary synthesizer that became synonymous with Stevie Wonder's groundbreaking music during his classic period. In this video, I explore the incredible story behind T.O.N.T.O (The Original New Timbral Orchestra), a pioneering modular synthesizer created by Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff in the early 1970s.
Discover how T.O.N.T.O's vast array of analog modules and innovative design allowed Stevie Wonder to explore new sonic frontiers, shaping timeless albums like 'Innervisions,' 'Fulfillingness' First Finale,' and 'Songs in the Key of Life.' From its towering size, custom wood cabinets, to its intricate patching system, T.O.N.T.O not only expanded the palette of sounds available to musicians but also set a benchmark for electronic music production.
Through my interview with Grammy Winning Super-Producer Robert Margouleff, (T.O.N.T.O co-creator), we'll uncover its enduring impact on music production techniques and its part in shaping the evolution of synthesizers. From its role in creating iconic basslines and ethereal textures to its influence on the development of funk, soul, and electronic music genres, T.O.N.T.O remains a testament to the power of innovation in music technology.
Whether you're a die-hard Stevie Wonder fan, a synth enthusiast, or simply curious about the instruments that changed music forever, this video provides a comprehensive look at T.O.N.T.O's journey from obscurity to becoming an icon of musical innovation. Don't miss out on discovering the secrets and stories behind Stevie Wonder's magical sounds and the synthesizer that continues to inspire generations of musicians worldwide. Hit the play button and embark on a sonic adventure with T.O.N.T.O!"

00:00 Intro (theme music)
00:09 Building TONTO
01:33 Meeting Malcolm Cecil
03:25 Writing Ads for the Moog
03:55 Designing the a Giant Synth on a Tablecloth
05:05 ARP, Serge, and other synths
06:45 Making 'Zero Time' & 1st Record Deal
09:14 Stevie Wonder meets Robert, Malcolm & the Moog
12:09 Moving to Electric Lady Studio
13:16 John Storyk Builds TONTO's Case
14:54 TONTO's Live Concert
16:47 TONTO's Keeps Growing with Special Features
18:45 No Minimoog
19:26 Special Expression Techniques on the Moog
21:14 Stevie's Custom Pitch Bender
24:08 Logo (theme music)

Producing Stevie Wonder & the Synth that Changed Music | Robert Margouleff Story

Friday, March 29, 2024

"The Chromed TONTO" - MASSIVE Live Modular Synthesizer w/ P-Thugg from Chromeo

video upload by Anthony Marinelli Music

Like a modern day TONTO - "The Chromed TONTO"

"Discover the unbelievable as Anthony and co-host Rob Rosen, synth tech to the stars, team up with special guest Patrick Gemayel, also known as P-Thugg from electro-funk duo "Chromeo," to unveil and construct the world's largest touring synthesizer - a towering 18 feet long and 8 feet tall, featuring 6 keyboards, all fully CHROMED! Dive into an epic unboxing and building session, culminating in an electrifying improvised synth jam.
In this captivating video, witness the step-by-step assembly of four colossal custom chrome modular synthesizer towers, drawing inspiration from iconic sources like Stevie Wonder’s TONTO synth, 1984 Bang & Olufsen speakers, and Seventies space-age furniture. Crafted and chromed by the legendary Roger Arrick from, these towers house cutting-edge modular synths with a unique behind-the-modules patching system, ensuring seamless performances with quick sound changes and full MIDI compatibility for patch cord free audience views.
Delve into the meticulous live performance setup of P-Thugg and his duo mate David Macklovitch (aka Dave 1), showcasing their mastery of Ableton Live and AbleSet for music playback, set lists, and lighting cues. Experience the behind-the-scenes magic as you join the conversation with the funk maestro "P" in his warehouse, where dreams of a chromed synth spectacle turned into reality. Don't miss out on this unforgettable journey into the heart of electro-funk innovation!

00:00:00 Intro (music)
00:00:55 Meet P-Thugg
00:01:11 Building the Modules / Jam 1
00:02:53 The MIDI Keyboards
00:04:53 Building the Tiers / Jam 2
00:06:33 Custom system by (
00:12:15 Custom Tuner Module
00:13:10 Synthesizer Tuner Hack
00:14:10 Modular and Poly Synth Output Configuration
00:15:50 Look Mum, no patch cords - Hard Wired Presets
00:17:34 Culmination of a Modular Dream / Monster Polyphonic Dream Next
00:19:07 Building the MIDI / Jam 3
00:22:44 Fully Built Instrument (after 3 hours setting up)
00:24:05 Preset Patching System
00:29:47 Bypassing the Preset Patches
00:30:21 Switching Presets on Stage
00:33:40 Spontaneously Programming Sounds on Stage
00:34:42 P-Thugg's Favorite Sound
00:35:25 Presets Switch between Live Panel Settings
00:36:39 Re-creating the Album in a Live Setting
00:37:35 Changing The Face Panel
00:40:09 Patching the MIDI Polyphonic Synthesizer Keyboards
00:43:15 Tuning Drifting Oscillators - Custom Tuner Module
00:43:51 Connecting All 4 Modular Instruments
00:45:59 Cleaning the Chrome
00:46:35 MIDI Interface Routing
00:48:47 Moog Modular Flexibility with Minimoog Speed
00:49:14 Front Panel Tour
00:51:20 Overriding the Presets with Patch Cords / Multi-Mode Filter
00:53:34 AbleSet by Leolabs - Set Lists, MIDI Patch Changes, Ableton Live Playback connection (
00:56:10 Ableton Light Cues
00:57:02 DAW Software - Cubase, Pro Tools, Ableton Live
00:57:50 Adapting the Show to the Song
00:59:37 Chromeo's Mission
01:01:20 Conclusion
01:01:47 Logo (music)"

Monday, September 11, 2023

TONTO synthesizer

video upload by Mario Rossi

See the TONTO label below for additional posts.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Synthesizer Virtuoso Robin Hatch Performs on Midnight Looms

video upload by Midnight Looms

"Tonight, we have our first IN-STUDIO PERFORMANCE since lock down! By synth virtuoso ROBIN HATCH!! A classically trained pianist, Robin has toured with OUR LADY PEACE, DWAYNE GRETZKY, THE RURAL ALBERTA ADVANTAGE, and more. Her synth skills are highly sought after, but tonight we have her all to ourselves as she flexes her chops on 3 SYNTHESIZERS and a DRUM MACHINE, inside our PLAYDEAD CULT DIY concert space. We are so geeked for this!"

Robin Hatch Performs with TONTO_For approval

Robin Hatch Performs with TONTO_For approval from National Music Centre on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 27, 2021


TONTO in the background.

Also see his salesman promotin pic here.

Some Star Trek for you.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Malcom Cecil Has Passed Away

Another synth legend has passed away. Anyone that regularly visits this site should know who he is.

via The Bob Moog Foundation

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share the passing of the legendary creative genius, musician, engineer, producer, and synthesizer pioneer, Malcolm Cecil, shown here with his creation TONTO (The Original New Timbral Orchestra, created in 1968). Malcom's son Milton informed us that he passed away at 1:17am this morning after a long illness.

Bob Moog and Malcolm had a deep mutual respect and affection for each other, remaining lifelong friends after working together to assure that the Moog components of TONTO were properly integrated into the system. Our hearts are heavy with the loss of such a monumental contributor to the Moog legacy and a truly stellar, generous, kind human being. Our love goes out to his family and friends.

You can see Malcolm talking about TONTO in this video from the National Music Centre | Centre National de Musique, where TONTO now resides:"

Malcolm Cecil on Creating TONTO

video by National Music Centre

"TONTO is an acronym for The Original New Timbral Orchestra. It was created by Malcom Cecil and Robert Margouleff in 1968 , and marked the first attempt at creating a universal language for different synthesizers to communicate with each other, which was revolutionary at the time.

Now housed at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, TONTO is being used for a new generation of artists to create music.

Support music in Canada by donating to the National Music Centre, a registered charity. Your donation directly shapes the future of Canadian music by providing music education programs, world-class artist development programs, and one-of-a-kind opportunities for collaboration. Learn more:"

And via Wikipedia:

"Malcolm Cecil (born 9 January 1937) is a British jazz bassist and Grammy Award-winning record producer.

Born in London, Cecil was a founding member of the UK's leading jazz quintet of the late 1950s, The Jazz Couriers,[1] before going on to join a number of British jazz combos led by Dick Morrissey, Tony Crombie and Ronnie Scott in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He later joined Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner to form the original line-up of Blues Incorporated.

He later joined Robert Margouleff to form the duo TONTO's Expanding Head Band, a project based on a unique combination of synthesizers which led to them collaborating on and co-producing several of Stevie Wonder's Grammy-winning albums of the early 1970s."
You can find numerious posts featuring Malcom Cecil here, and TONTO here.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Phantom of the Paradise Model

via Space Leech

"I want this Phantom of the Paradise statue more than food.

SMH Magazine, Vol. 2, 1996."

And a clip from the film featuring Tonto:

phantom of the paradise - FAUST (robot) bloomis23

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Behringer to Clone TONTO?

These spotted and sent in via Soviet Space Child.

More teasers from Behringer. Wouldn't that be interesting. TONTO? Curious if it would come with non working modules as a clone of TONTO prior to any restoration. Humor aside, it is possible they are looking at Moog modules based on the other pics below. 5U, eurorack, or both? Who knows...

P.S. If you are not familiar with TONTO, see here and scroll.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Synth Kid Caitlin back with TONTO

Published on Aug 1, 2019 The Mad Music Machine

"Caitlin was invited to a special backstage tour at the National Music Centre in Calgary.

This included the chance to try out some unique and historic instruments, the highlight for her was undoubtedly creating and playing a simple patch on TONTO."

You can find previous posts featuring Caitlin here. See the label below for more posts featuring TONTO.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Recreate The Synth Sounds of DAFT PUNK, NIN, & THE PRODIGY With Distortion Pedals

Published on Jun 24, 2019 Learson Peak

This is one of the posts that lead me down the YouTube rabbit hole. First the video of BREAKWATER featured above:


Published on Sep 7, 2012 bassmania99


Next, a video I found of Breakwater's "Release the Beast" featuring the sample. Turns out it was overdubbed to a video clip of Phantom of the Paradise featuring TONTO.

Breakwater - Release the Beast (JTVR's Original 1980's Sample to Daft Punk's Robot Rock)

Published on Oct 28, 2014 jackthevideoripper

"Read more about the sample:"

And finally the original clip of TONTO in Phantom of the Paradise:

Published on Aug 1, 2006 analoghell

"Ignore the awful music and fool miming at the keyboard. Instead, admire TONTO in all it's glory!"

You can find Phantom of the Paradise on Amazon here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Playing With… TONTO, the World’s Largest Synthesizer | Red Bull Music Academy

Published on Jun 18, 2019 Red Bull Music Academy

"Canadian artists Softcoresoft, Debby Friday and Korea Town Acid try their hands at using The Original New Timbral Orchestra, TONTO, the first and largest multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer in the world.

Created by Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff in the late 1960s, TONTO was used on recordings for Stevie Wonder and Gil Scott-Heron and in 2013 was acquired by and moved to the National Music Center in Calgary, Alberta where this session was filmed during the RBMA Bass Camp Calgary 2019.

Red Bull Music Academy is the educational pillar of the Red Bull Music program. It is a global institution that for 20 years has been committed to fostering creativity in music by collaborating with those who are shaping our musical landscape and creating spaces for music makers to learn and immerse themselves."

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Announcing Modular Icons Sound Bank for Kontakt!

Published on May 9, 2019 moogfoundation

"We are thrilled to announce our collaboration on the new MODULAR ICONS sound bank with industry giant Native Instruments, featuring some of the most coveted, rare, vintage modular synthesizers in the world. Modular Icons features sounds by Jean-Michel Jarre, Steve Porcaro, Mark Isham, Jeff Rona, Michael Boddicker, Benge, Walter Holland, Robing Rimbaud (Scanner), Francis Preve, Dan Goldstein, Jim Solomon, Kurt Ader, and Paca Thomas.

This video features sound design guru Francis Preve during his visit to the National Music Centre of Canada to sample the legendary TONTO, one of the many modulars featured in this sound bank. Find out more here."

Saturday, September 15, 2018

RIP John Leimseider

Update: "A memorial and celebration of life will be held at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, this Sunday, September 30 at 5:00 pm in Studio Bell’s Performance Hall (850 4 Street SE).

More info can be found here.

Pictured: John Leimseider on the right with Malcom Cecil from this recent post on the upcoming event, TONTO Week.

It has come to my attention that John Leimseider has passed away. John was the head synth technician at the National Music Centre in Calgary, Canada, and previously the Cantos Music Foundation. He was recently scheduled to give a presentation on TONTO with Malcom Cecil on Nov 17 as part of TONTO Week. Please note, that talk is still scheduled to go on with Malcom Cecil. According to NMC, "TONTO was one of the last major projects of JL’s, so this event has much more significance now that he’s gone. But there will be an enormous void without him."

John Leimseider's influence spread far beyond the museum. Many of you visiting MATRIXSYNTH likely know him. I unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet him in person, however I remember seeing him engage on both the Rhodes Chroma and Yamaha CS80 lists. I still have some of those threads. I was hoping to one day make it out to the National Music Centre and meet him in person.

Below is a short playlist featuring John including his work at the NMC, an introductory video on the Roland System-8 from Roland, a video for The Moog Legacy featuring John, and a fun video featuring Neil Diamond's band paying a visit to the NMC, invited by none other than John Leimseider. He will be sorely missed by the synth community.

National Music Center Mini Doc [be sure to listen in stereo - you can only hear John on the left channel to start]
First Impressions of the Roland SYSTEM-8 with John Leimseider
Virtuality: The Moog Legacy, by Amin Bhatia [John Leimseider comes in at 1:58]
Quarter Note Video Tweet: Neil Diamond's band visits the NMC collection [keep an eye out for John]

You can find a handful of posts mentioning John Leimseider in the archives here. He worked on quite a few synths sold by individuals over the years. It's neat to think each one of those synths were touched by him at some point, and the work he did on them will live on.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

TONTO Week: Malcolm Cecil, A Tribe Called Red, and The National Music Centre in Calgary

The Story of TONTO Published on Jan 22, 2014 National Music Centre

"The Original New Timbral Orchestra (TONTO), the world's largest analog synthesizer, has found a new home at the National Music Centre in Calgary, Alberta. This is the story of how TONTO went from a dream to a reality, and then found a new life and home at NMC."

Note the above video is from January 22, 2014. You should all be familiar with TONTO.

Update: It has come to my attention that John Leimseider has passed away. He was scheduled to give a TONTO Demonstration with Malcom Cecil on Nov. 17 per below. The demonstration will remain scheduled with Malcom Cecil, however the Synthesis 101 course on Nov. 14 has been canceled.

Details on the event:

TONTO Week puts "holy grail of synthesizers" in the spotlight from November 14-18

Week of activities to feature TONTO co-creator Malcolm Cecil, A Tribe Called Red, Phantom of the Paradise screening, and more

(Calgary, AB — September 13, 2018) After years of careful restoration, the National Music Centre (NMC) will commission one of the crown jewels of its music and technology collection, The Original New Timbral Orchestra (aka TONTO), during TONTO Week from November 14-18.

To commemorate this milestone, NMC will host a week of music programming timed to coincide with Alberta Electronic Music Conference (AEMCON), running concurrently at Studio Bell during TONTO Week. NMC Members receive discounted or free admission to all TONTO Week events (not including AEMCON conference passes), so purchase your membership online today at Individual tickets are available at AEMCON conference passes are available at

Members of A Tribe Called Red will be the first musicians to create new music with the legendary synthesizer, and they’ll demo TONTO during a public workshop and incorporate the instrument into an evening Studio Bell After Hours set. “After seeing TONTO for the first time back in 2014, I knew that I had unfinished business at the National Music Centre,” said 2oolman of A Tribe Called Red. “I have been waiting patiently ever since to get my hands on that instrument.”

Malcolm Cecil, one of the co-creators of TONTO, will be in attendance to deliver demonstrations and lectures on the history of the instrument. NMC will also host a screening of the cult classic film, Phantom of the Paradise, in which TONTO appeared, and other activities associated with the instrument.

TONTO is one of the world’s largest analog synthesizers. Created by Malcom Cecil and Robert Margouleff in 1968, its creation marked the first attempt at making a universal language for different synthesizers to communicate with each other, which was a revolutionary achievement. Under the band name Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, Cecil and Margouleff released the highly influential album Zero Time. The album demonstrated the rich, layered sounds of the massive synthesizer and attracted significant attention.

Used on multiple Stevie Wonder and The Isley Brothers albums in the 1970s, TONTO helped shape albums by a long list of notable artists such as Minnie Riperton, Joan Baez, the Doobie Brothers, Quincy Jones, Randy Newman, Bobby Womack and more, and was prominently featured in Phantom of the Paradise.

“I needed to find a home for TONTO that would survive me and where it could be used,” said Malcolm Cecil after NMC acquired the instrument in 2013.

“We made a promise to Malcom to ensure that TONTO would be used again in the creation of new music and that its legacy would live on,” said Adam Fox, NMC’s Director of Programs. “It took several years to properly restore the instrument, and now it’s finally ready to enter its next chapter. We couldn’t be more excited to hear where NMC’s Artists in Residence take TONTO next.”


Saturday, December 09, 2017

The Korg ARP Odyssey Song

Published on Dec 8, 2017 ProckGnosis

"Skip to 03:36 to bypass the beer and synth babble and hear the song. Skip to 06:50 to hear the isolated clips, tracks, and different combined bits from the song.

As I expressed in the ARP Odyssey Tidbits and Tips for Drum Sounds video (, I have been VERY impressed with this synth. Just really like the sound quite a bit, and it really is a well-made copy of a classic from the 70s.

The song is nothing great in demonstrating it's range, but it seemed perfectly appropriate for that 70s-ish, synthy vibe this thing inspires. As I pointed out with the Yamaha CS-5 video, I'm still blown away by what you can do with just one synth and some multitrack recording options.

If I had to sell large chunks of the synth collection, this would be one of the last to go I think."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Electric Dream: Twelve Instruments ⚡︎ One Girl

Published on Oct 26, 2015 Clara Venice

"'Electric Dream' now available on iTunes ⚡︎


Go behind the scenes with me at the National Music Centre as I record my newest EP, "Electric Dream" using some rare electronic instruments from their collection (and one not-so-rare instrument from mine!)


Instruments used:

1. Chime-a-tron
2. Linn LM-1
3. Oberheim Four Voice
4. Buchla Lighting
5. EMS Synthi Hi-Fli
6. Stylophone
7. RCA Theremin
8. Ableton Live
9. Oberheim OB-Xa
10. T.O.N.T.O.
11. Hammond Novachord
12. Neumann U-87 "

Thursday, September 03, 2015


Published on Sep 3, 2015 Clara Venice

Synth spotting: Moog Theremini, Waldorf XT & Pulse racks, TONTO, RCA Theremin, Roland XP-30, Oberheim TVS, EMS SYNTHI Hi-Fli?, Moog Theremin, Stylophone & More. Quite a bit for a 1:51 promo reel!


I'm so excited to announce that my second EP, "Electric Dream" is coming October 2015! For Canadian/European tour dates, as well as more release info, videos and music, I'll be posting more details here and on my social sites so come connect with me (links below) and I will keep you posted!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Malcom Cecil Releases iTonto for iOS

iTunes: iTonto - malcolm cecil

"iTONTO the App, documents the Engineering and Design of “TONTO”, The Original New Timbral Orchestra.

DISCLAIMER: iTONTO is not a functional iOS recreation of TONTO.

TONTO is one of the most important innovations in musical history. TONTO is the first synthesizer of popular music and is displayed and described in great detail within the App. This historic instrument, the invention of Grammy winning Malcolm Cecil, helped influence American cultural and musical history and is one of the most recorded instruments of all time.
The App includes detailed photos of the front and back of each panel with drill down and zoom capabilities, circuitry and schematics, personal comments, hand drawn notes in design, and stories about TONTOS history. Collaborations include Steve Wonder, Billy Preston, Gil Scott Heron, Little Feet, Doobie Brothers, George Harrison and The Isley Brothers. TONTO is on over 160 albums including 2 of Rolling Stone’s top 100 best selling albums of all time.

TONTO – The Original New Timbral Orchestra uses the principle of analog subtractive synthesis to create multi-timbral polyphonic sounds.The heart of a subtractive synthesizer is its filter. TONTO has a compliment of fourteen filters: two full MOOG 904 band-pass filters,
two Arp Low Pass filters,
four Oberhiem SEM filters;
two Cecil/Serge dual filters;
one ARP 1040 multi function filter
and one Cecil Custom low pass filter.
It also has 39 oscillators; 22 envelope generators;
18 VCA’s and many more modules,
including processors, sequencers and controllers which can be patched to create at least fourteen discrete “voices” – each with it’s own unique timbral quality and all of which are able to be controlled simultaneously. As its name implies, it is truly an integrated orchestra of new timbres.
Optimized for iPhone 6, IOS 8.0 or better."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

NAMM 2015: Malcolm Cecil

Published on Jan 25, 2015 Electronic Musician Magazine

"Electronic Musician interviews Malcolm Cecil about TONTO at the NAMM Show 2015."

Monday, November 03, 2014

Steve Austin Battles Bigfoot To A Synthesizer Soundtrack by Tonto's Expanding Head Band

Published on Nov 3, 2014 Jay Calloway

"Secret agent Steve Austin, the bionic Six Million Dollar Man, battles Bigfoot---who turns out to be a part-android alien creation! The music is 'Cybernaut' by Tonto's Expanding Head Band. I don't own anything---neither the film footage nor the music. (The government owns this. It's classified Above Above Top Secret.)"

For those not familiar with Tonto's Expanding Head Band, via wikipedia: "Tonto's Expanding Head Band was a British electronic music duo consisting of Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff. Despite releasing only two albums in the early 1970s, the duo were (and still remain) influential because of their session work for other musicians (most notably Stevie Wonder[1][2]), extensive commercial advertising work and the unique warmth and personality of their work."

And of course, see the TONTO channel label for more specifically on the TONTO modular system.

Switched On Make Synthesizer Evolution Vintage Synthesizers Creating Sound Fundlementals of Synthesizer Programming Kraftwerk

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