Well... not so desperately, but I've been searching for ever. This beautiful sound is in lots of early 90s R&B/Pop songs, it's some sort of processed vibraphone or something. I'm pretty sure it must be part of the stock sound bank of one of the iconic ones from back in the day... like the Korg M1 or the Yamaha DX7, but I'm not really sure. So, sound gurus, I'm in your hands!

Here is the song, the sound is at 3:00 (it's literally 3 notes in approximately 3 secs) : Anointed - In The Need of Love/


What you hear is the electric piano preset on many electronic keyboards, run through a chorus in this particular case. Electric piano presets were typically modified after the Fender Rhodes piano, a piano heavily used to make R&B and soul in the 70s and 80s¹, to varying degrees of success. The Electric Piano was perhaps famously inserted on Kurzweil's first digital pianos but were since implemented as part of the General MIDI sound set in 1991 as instrument 5 and 6.

It's not surprising that the electric piano setting sounds a bit like a vibraphone. A "real" electric piano is not a synthesizer, but an acoustic percussion instrument played by hammers wired to a keyboard --literally a piano mechanism run by electricity rather than by direct mechanical force. Many of them, including the Rhodes, do have innards made out of tuned metal, like a vibraphone.

¹ Minnie Riperton - Loving You (1975); Michael McDonald - I Keep Forgetting (1982)

  • Great answer, but you might also give some background info on electric pianos. I had always assumed they were early synthesizers, but only recently learned they were indeed quite similar to souped-up vibraphones. Apr 12 '18 at 19:05
  • I've had the opportunity to learn to play the vibraphone but never had the chance to play a fender rhodes or similar piano. I don't know what the similarity to a vibraphone to an electric piano is. Apr 13 '18 at 3:45
  • In that case, if you don't mind, I'll add some edits to your answer just to fill in the background. Apr 13 '18 at 13:03

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