Dave Smith Instruments announced today the return of Sequential Circuits and the new Prophet 6.

According to news on DS’s website, it went down a little something like this…

In an unprecedented gesture of good will, Yamaha Corporation and its President, Takuya Nakata, have granted possession of the Sequential brand back to its original owner and company founder, Dave Smith. “To say that I’m grateful would be putting it mildly,” said Smith. “Generosity at this level is almost unheard of in today’s corporate climate.”

Like the other pioneering American synthesizer manufacturers of the late 1970’s and 80’s, Moog and Oberheim, Sequential’s fortunes declined when digital instruments eclipsed their analog counterparts. All three company founders subsequently lost the rights to their own company name. When Sequential ceased operations in 1987, its name and assets were acquired by Yamaha. For a number of years following that, Smith worked as a consultant for Yamaha and Korg, and was largely responsible for Korg’s successful Wavestation series of vector-synthesis-based instruments.

Instrumental in restoring the Sequential name was Roland’s Founder, Ikutaro Kakehashi, a longtime colleague and friend of Smith’s. “I feel that it’s important to get rid of unnecessary conflict among electronic musical instrument companies,” said Kakehashi. “That is exactly the spirit of MIDI. For this reason, I personally recommended that the President of Yamaha, Mr. Nakata, return the rights to the Sequential name to Dave Smith. And I’m glad to see such a wonderful result—a new product with the Sequential name.”

Kakehashi is referring to Smith’s timely debut of a new analog poly synth bearing the Sequential name: the Prophet-6. “I wanted to celebrate the return of Sequential in the best way I could—by building the most awesome-sounding, modern analog poly synth possible,” said Smith. “The Prophet-6 is a tribute to Sequential’s most famous instrument, the Prophet-5. I think of it as vintage with a modern twist.” The new instrument features voltage-controlled oscillators, filters, and amplifiers. Its emphasis is on vintage analog tone with modern reliability.

Kakehashi, now CEO of Atelier Vision Corporation, is no stranger to such altruistic gestures. He was the original bridge and facilitator in the cooperative effort between Smith and Japanese instrument manufacturers Roland, Korg, Yamaha, and Kawai to develop the MIDI standard. The goal of the MIDI standard was to ensure compatibility between synthesizers from different manufacturers to the mutual benefit of all.

“Kakehashi-san is right,” said Smith. “This is really what MIDI was originally about—encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place. One can only hope that Yamaha’s kindness inspires others to show the same generosity. The original spirit of MIDI lives on. And because of that, Sequential is back!”

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