My Musical Journey

My name is Lars Bodin and this is the story of my musical journey. I have always enjoyed listening to music but also playing myself. I am however not a professional musician – I am a software engineer but has a small home studio where I enjoy composing and playing music.

My first instrument was a toy accordian I got for Christmas when I was a young boy. I loved playing on it and my parents decided that I should take some music lessons. So they bought me a second hand small electric keyboard. I don’t remember the brand or model though. 

I started taking music lessons at a local music teacher, who convinced my parents to replace the small electric piano with an organ instead as he was teaching music on organ. So my parents bought me a second hand Family Junior organ. I had som very basic organ sounds and some builtin rhytms but it was a nice upgrade from the small keyboard. 

My music teacher had an amazing music studio with drums, piano, an amazing but very expensive organ (about $ 10,000) and a huge analog mixer desk. For some time I practiced playing drums and piano when his studio was not being used and it was great fun.

In 1982 when I was 14 years old, I bought my first synthesizer – an Yamaha SY1. This was a relatively simple single-VCO analog synthesizer with 28 builtin presets and very limited synthesis capabilities. It had aftertouch, which could modulate the VCO, VCA or VCF resulting in vibrato, wah-wah or volumne effects. Even though the sound engine was limited it could produce a very raw analog sound and I loved playing on it. 

Soon after I started playing music at the local theater and for birthdays, anniversaries etc. My parents bought me a second-hand amplifier with builtin mixer and a couple of large monitors and a microphone for me and I used this together with my organ and SY1 and earned my first paychecks as a “professional musician” when I was about 15 or 16 years old. I also started giving music lessons to some of the other kids.

However, when I started my study at the university I did not have time to practice anymore and sold all my gear. I deeply regret selling my Yamaha SY1, that was a piece of history! 

When I was in my early twenties (about 1990 – 1992 maybe) I bought a Roland E-15 “Intelligent Synthesizer”. This wasn’t actually a synthesizer but what is usually known as an “arranger keyboard”, i.e. a keyboard with lots of builtin presets and music styles, that allow you to sound like an entire band. However you can not create your own sounds like you can on a synthesizer. Compared to the few presets on my old organ and Yamaha SY1 synthesizer this presets on this keyboard was amazing. 

In 2014 I bought a Korg Pa-600 arranger keyboard to replace the Roland E-15. This was a very nice upgrade! The sounds are much more realistic compared to the old Roland E-15 and it has a lot of builtin presets and styles. As of this writing (2023) it is starting to sound a bit old compared to more modern keyboards and I am planning to replace it with a Roland Fantom 06 as soon as I have saved some money for it, but until then I still enjoy playing on this keyboard.

In 2014 I decided it was time to upgrade to not just a single keyboard but started making my own home studio. I bought in a M-Audio Axiom Air 49 MIDI keyboard and a Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 USB audio interface. Soon after I also replaced my cheap loudspeakers with some amazing ADAM A5X monitors and also bought a Røde NT1 microphone.

However, I had some technical issues with the Komplete Audio 6 audio interface and replaced it with a Focusrite Scarlett 2.i4 (2. gen) which I am still using and enjoying very much.

I spend a lot of time trying most of the major DAWs including Reason, Avid Pro Tools, PreSonus Studio One, Fruity Loops (now FL Studio) and more but when I finally tried Ableton Live my search was over – it is a great tool when composing and arranging your own music.

After some time I decided that I didn’t like the keybed on my M-Audio MIDI keyboard and so it was replaced with a Native Instruments Komplete S61 (1. generation) which integrates nicely with not only the Native Instruments KOMPLETE software bundle but also many 3rd party VST’s that support the NKS standard. Great for productivity! I have also bought a Novation Launchkey 37 Mk3 as a secondary MIDI keyboard as it takes up less space on my desktop than the S61 and leaves room for my Akai APC40 MKII which is very useful when I am recording and mixing in Ableton Live.

Ever since I bought my monophonic Yamaha Sy-1 I have been dreaming of getting my hands on an analog polyphonic synthesizer but could not afford it back then. However, when Dave Smith Instruments (now renamed Sequential) released the Prophet REV2 I simply knew I had to get this! However, I spend several months testing various synthesizers (incl. Moog Sub-37 and Arturia Matrix Brute) but in 2018 I finally bought the REV2 after convincing myself it was still the best choice for my needs and my budget. 

In 2019 I got some serious GAS again and bought the Moog Subsequent 37. What a beast! I love the big warm Moog sound, nothing compares to it! 

Both the REV-2 and Subsequent 37 have great warm analog sound and also a great user interface – if you have any previous experience with subtractive synthesizers, you will quickly get used to playing on these beauties. Also both offers great modulation capabilities compared to other analog synthesizers in this price range. The builtin presets are good, some even great, and it is easy to design your own sounds. 

I also bought an Allen & Heath ZED-10FX mixer for my synths and microphone. I spend a lot of time reading reviews about different brands and models before deciding on this one and I am very satisfied with both the sound and build quality of this device! I also love the compact size as it does not take up too much space on my desk. However, the builtin digital effects are not that great compared to some of the VST effects I use in Ableton Live, so I would recommend buying the ZED-10 without effects and save a little money (I did however get a very good deal on the ZED-10FX which is why I bought this model).

In 2023 I decided it was time to upgrade my Korg Pa600 and decided on a Roland Fantom-06 workstation. Having the sounds of the flagship Fantom workstation in a more affordable package made this a no-brainer for me (although I did consider buying either a Juno-X or Jupiter-X).