The Fairlight CMI Sampling Sounds (1979-1989) were added to the NFSA’s Sounds of Australia in 2015.
The Fairlight was the first digital synthesizer and sampler. It was invented by two young Australians, Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogel (pictured), in 1979. The Fairlight got its name from a hydrofoil (itself named after the Sydney suburb Fairlight) which Ryrie and Vogel saw pass by as they worked on their invention in Ryrie’s grandmother’s Point Piper garage.
We take sampling technology for granted today, but at the time it was a revelation for a computer to be able to store (on floppy disc) and manipulate recorded natural sounds.
The Series III Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) below was used by composer Peter Best to compose and arrange soundtracks for a number of films, television programs and advertisements from the mid-1980s until early 2000.
Titles composed and arranged by Peter Best on the system include many Australian classics: Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, Australia, 1986), Crocodile Dundee II (John Cornell, Australia, 1988), The Leaving of Liverpool (Michael Jenkins, Australia, 1992) and Muriel’s Wedding (PJ Hogan, Australia, 1994).
In 1997 Best won the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for best original music score for Doing Time For Patsy Cline (Chris Kennedy, Australia, 1997).