Falsettos Synth Info

This page is for those looking for synthesizer programming information for productions of "Falsettos" ("March of the Falsettos" and "Falsettoland"). The contents of this page and the ENTIRE programming information can be downloaded as a PDF by option clicking (right clicking) HERE.



Synth books are a mess in general – and Falsettos especially so.

First, “March of the Falsettos” was performed in the early 80’s with a band of seven. No synth was used … okay, I played synth bass on a Carlo Robelli keyboard while conducting.

Next, “Falsettoland” was performed in 1990 with piano, synth and percussion.

In 1991, Graciela Daniele combined the two pieces for a production in Hartford, CT. At that time, a synth book was created for “March” so they would have the same instrumentation. A full Broadway production followed (directed by James Lapine) – here a woodwind was added to the band.

The synth book was a controller keyboard and a Mac laptop running Max playing two modules: a Yamaha TX802 and Roland D550. Max was running a Mapper I had constructed that handled all patch changing and also allowed note mapping.

Note mapping allowed single notes to produce fully voiced chords. The notes played (triggers or masters) were not necessarily in the chords produced (slaves). Hence some of the odd-looking thumb lines in the left hand of the synth part.


There was no standard method of sending out synth books for rentals in the early 90’s. Today (using Finale), I indicate the slave notes in the part so that when the book goes out for rental, it’s clear what is happening.


General Sound Notes

Many of the sounds used were custom sounds I programmed for the DX/TX family. I will attempt to describe some, but those creating new programming should be creative in their use of newer technologies and sounds.

Attacca Ensemble - was a custom patch for the Yamaha FM synths. It was a slightly metallic 'chiff' that gave an articulation to pad (non-string-sample) patches.

Music Box refers to bright bells, not neccessarily an imitation of a physical music box.

Elec.Pno.Tined is an Electric Piano sound with the percussive 'tine' sound brought out to make it a little more biting.

Pads are never string samples.

Basses are usually acoustic pizz bass. But bass guitar patches were used occasionally for the more rambunctious numbers. For better splitting the bass sounds are played where they actually sound (an octave lower than they would be notated for a bass player.)

Split information shows the bottom note of the right hand sound and then the top note of the left hand sound (usually a bass or slave notes). C3 is treated as middle C with the note below it being B2 and the note above being C#3.

Torimtora is a DX/TX patch - a marimba that was strong and hard and very effective in the bass register.

"Opening Filter Effect" should be a brass or other piercing timbre with a slowly opening filter envelope (1-2 seconds) and an immediate release.



PDF Contents

The PDF document contains the following information:

1. A list of all the 90 odd patches used for the combined “Falsettos”

2. A chain list of each patch change in “March of the Falsettos”. Example-

16 FourJews m.53
42 FourJews m.57

At meas. 53 of “Four Jews”, patch 16 is used. At measure 57 patch 42 is played. (These were all assembled as a text file, that the Max Mapper simply progressed through as the player hit the advance pedal.)

3. A chain list of each patch change in “Falsettoland”.

4. A score of all the trigger/slave combinations in “March of the Falsettos”.

5. A score of all the trigger/slave combinations in “Falsettoland”.

Various other methods have been used for note mapping over the years. Until recently, Bruce Samuels in NY has been using the Kurzweil keyboards to do this. Others have built applications or ‘black boxes’. The new Miko workstation has this capability in addition to the ability to produce all sounds with software synths. A second player might be used where budget is not of concern.

In the future I hope to import my Yamaha synth sounds into the NI software synth DX8 – if I do, I will make those sounds available.

Michael Starobin
August 20, 2007

The contents of this page and the ENTIRE programming information can be downloaded as a PDF by option clicking (right clicking) HERE.