Among the 3000+ Ksetlist users out there, there are some that are just simply outstanding. Some of them because of the number of sounds they upload. Others because of the quality of the few sounds they have uploaded. And others because of their overall participation in the forum or in the Challenges. Whatever that reason is, those ksetlisters totally deserve our collective recognition and appreciation. Therefore, in this Journal we will be writing special posts about these unsung heroes.
Thorsten Kaffenberger, aka Kaffimusic, is one of those outstanding contributors to the forum. I asked him to write some words to let us know more about him, what kind of music he plays, what keyboards he used and what Ksetlist sounds he likes the most.
My name is Thorsten Kaffenberger and I play Kurzweil keyboards. Mostly. I am German and I also live in Germany. In 1972, when I was 6 years old, I started to get lessons to play the accordion. When I was 16 I bought my first synthesizer from my savings and some money that my grandparents gave me: A KORG Poly 800.
Over the years I owned many synthesizers and some samplers, I mostly bought them used: KORG, with the DW-8000, DSS-1, DSM-1, and a 01-W pro. I owned a ROLAND D-70 back then, too, but only for a short time. I did not like it. I also used YAMAHAs for a long time, the TX81Z, FB-01, TX802, CS6X and a classic Motif, wich was my last big workstation for roughly 10 years before I came to KURZWEIL. All those instruments taught me about different technologies and how to program sounds on them. Today I’d say this is my base to understand how VAST on the KURWEIL’s works.
My first real contact to a KURZWEIL was a K2000 that I bought in 2011 as a used instrument. After so many years with instruments of other brands I immediately realized this is something very different. Athough 20 years old and digital, it sounded somehow fuller and more organic than everything I owned at this time. Back then I also looked out for something to replace my ageing classic MOTIF and I decided to get a KURZWEIL PC3-61, wich was on sale at a big german musicstore.
I fell in love with it immediately, started to explore VAST and the sonic capabilities of it. I found the the internal structure and philosophy behind it was so much different from what I knew before and how much it was superior to everything I saw on the market. I learned to value it as something much closer to what you really need in a professional environment. As a tool to make a stand in a studio or live on stage, to program sounds and not as something to impress you in your livingroom with headphones on.
Today, my current live-rig consists of a PC3K6 and a PC3-61, wich have identical soundsets, besides the samples in the K6. The last two years, also a Talkbox is a constant part of my rig, I use it on the PC3-61. Sometimes I take a NOVATION Ultranova with me, for fun or for a special purpose.
I played music all my life only for hobby-purpose, but always tried to keep it on a high-level. Currently I play in three bands and occasionally I am asked to help out elsewhere as a sub.
I am lucky to live in an area with a high densitiy of good musicians and opportunities for live-music. Over the last years I was taking part in live-music-sessions and met lots of musicians, wich brought me contacts and new opportunities to play and I was able to make a (small) name in the local area.
At least one of my PC3’s was always with me. I tend to believe they were an important key for me to achieve this. People like my sounds and I like the way those instruments handle on stage. I kind of became a better musician with them. They make me feel much closer to what I play and enable me more to do what I want to do than any other instrument I owned before.
What I like most about my PC3s:
- The unexcited but high quality sound that sits in a mix without any further tweaking
- You can put sounds in favourourite QA blocks and you have many of those
- The incedible amount of flexibility how to change sounds – the VAST engine
- The programmable extra outputs (talkbox) and the many controller inputs (+breathcontrol!)
- The synth action keybed wich I came to like more and more over the years
- The transpose buttons with immediate access from the front panel
What I don’t like:
- The poor quality of internal connectors wich cause instruments to fail
I often look for soundsets when learning new songs. But many times there are none, so I mostly end up programming my own. Sometimes I program sounds exlusively for just one song that I have to learn. It depends on the time and spontaneous ideas I have.
For “butter and bread” I mostly use my own tweaked sounds, wich are decendants of factory presets and which I have uploaded as a soundset to Ksetlist. Those are the sounds I like most, because they feel musical to me and are flexible to be adapted to different situations. They have been tweaked over the years. They are not many, but they are made to be changed on the fly while playing to adapt to different needs.
For example, you can find some of Thorsten’s sounds here: https://ksetlist.com/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=270&p=531#p531
Check ksetlist.com for more.
I couldn’t forget this amazing and superfun video.
For the organ I have a starter, that I mostly tweak while playing with the band to a sound that I want right now. Other sounds, like the pianos can add a string that can be mixed to it and change the behaviour and style of it in a wide range.
Those “butter and bread” sounds are arranged in several rows of QA banks, every sound, like “the piano” or “the lead” are at the same position in the list, but every QA block might have some different versions of it. So I always find them blindly, even without looking at the display, just by their position on the keypad.
Setups or sounds that are used exlusively for a song are also arranged in QA banks, and I have a row of them for every band. I use setups as well as programs. Since I have two PC3’s at once on stage, it saves me some work, instead of programming setups I can use two instruments, and it also enables me to react more flexible to changing situations or spontaneous ideas. I always have the basic sound ready, while I can switch to something different on the other machine or getting ready for a solo.
There is one important guideline for me to decide what sound to use: It has to “feel” right when I play it. Sometimes it’s better to use something that is just close enough, instead of trying to copy something that – in the end – does not feel good to play.
Finally, you have to think about the situation on stage and how the band will probably handle a given song. There are moments when it simply makes no sense to stick to what you hear in a studio-recording, because it does not work on stage.
Currently my main three bands are
A kind of old-fashioned cover-soul-band with music from Aretha Franklin to current pop songs
Jo’s Mum josmum.de
A girls-gock coverband between AC/DC, Cranberries and current funky popsongs, good level, good musicians.
Paule Pathers Groove Club Sorry, no website.
The most interesting band to me, a basic lineup with changing guests and good musicians. You get just a setlist, that always differs and is played on the upcoming gig, no rehersals. Mostly funk, rap, reggae, rock, or current popmusic. Always an adventure, always new songs to learn and sounds to program. Often meeting new musicians, great party, great fun.
Thorsten is a multi Ksetlist Challenge Champion, check out his sounds for Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop This Feeling here
Or this video for Keane’s Under the Iron Sea
The sounds for this song can be found here:
You can follow Thorsten’s Youtube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/Kaffimusic
And Big thanks to Thorsten!!!