Simply put, the Korg DS-10 enables users to create entire electronic music tracks with a vast degree of control over the sounds being generated. House, trance, DnB, ambient soundscapes – all can be crafted using the Korg DS-10, with the warmth and depth of sound that would be expected from a physical synthesizer. Yasunori Mitsuda, who had previously composed soundtracks for prominent JRPGs such as Chrono Trigger, toured Japan with Korg DS-10 designers Nobuyoshi Sano and Michio Okamiya to showcase the software’s potential. The “Korg DS-10 Trio” performed its debut concert at the 2008 Extra: Hyper Game Music Event in Tokyo, earning a rapturous reception from the audience:
Development studios Procyon and Cavia Inc collaborated with Korg engineers to create DS-10, which largely emulates the released in 1978. As executive producer Yasunori Mitsuda , the Nintendo DS platform presented some technical challenges: “It was extremely difficult to put such a high quality synthesizer into such a small device with a limited data capacity.” Even so, the development team managed to design a highly capable emulator, summarised in the Korg DS-10 instruction booklet as “a music tool that makes extensive song writing possible using two analogue synthesizer emulators and one drum module, as well as a 6-track/16-step sequencer and three types of audio effects.”
With its limited processing power and compact interface, the Nintendo DS is an unlikely platform for digital music production, typically the domain of PCs and laptops running powerful software like Ableton Live. But in 2008, Japanese publisher AQ Interactive released Korg DS-10, turning the little Nintendo into a versatile pocket synthesiser.
With a high degree of capability comes a steep learning curve, however. The DS-10 interface is imposing for the uninitiated, a dense array of virtual knobs, plugs and buttons that are marked with cryptic symbols and shorthand: LFO, VCA IN, CUTOFF. While the 55-page manual gives a good overview of these functions, for a user without previous experience in synthesiser production and terminology, learning to create music on the DS-10 can be an opaque exercise in trial and error, spinning dials and linking oscillators in an experimental manner. As Nobuyoshi Sano , however, this is a valid part of the experience: “I think one of the joys of DS-10 is to go with your instinct and have fun with the tone and sound, and before you know it you have a song on your hands.” Even so, Sano reiterated, the Korg DS-10 “is not a game, but a professional music creation software tool that just happens to be on a gaming platform.”
If you want to know where Pere Ubu stood in the scheme of things then just consider this quote from the usually well-informed music website : “one of the most innovative American musical forces, Pere Ubu is to Devo what Arnold Schoenberg was to Irving Berlin” (mind you they also talk about “Thomas' avant-garde folk-blues-jazz-rock cultural synthesis”, which is a bit heavy going for an ordinary bloke like me).