Frank Serafine Makes "Noise" With Tyros

5/16/2003 [Pianos & Keyboards]

Top Sound Effects Composer Still Prefers the Keyboard

BUENA PARK, CA (May 16, 2003) — While studying at the Ali Akbar College of Indian Music in San Francisco, Frank Serafine did something few were doing in 1979 – creating sound effects on an electronic keyboard. Although commonplace for music creation, sound effects creation often involved resorting to stock effects in libraries or going out into the field to create your own.

Frank Serafine and Tyros
Man of many sounds: Frank Serafine
Upon completing studies in orchestration at Denver University, Serafine moved to Los Angeles to start a multi-media project, composing and performing original music for the opening of Space Mountain at Disneyland. His unique approach to sound effects generation attracted producers at Paramount, where he completed the special sound effects for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. With the success of the Star Trek films and then later TRON (OSCAR® – nominated Best Sound 1982), he was able to broaden his credits to include the stunning cinematic electronic sounds heard in John Carpenter's The Fog, Brainstorm, The Day After, Poltergeist, Short Circuit, Pumpkinhead, The Hunt for Red October (Academy Award Best Sound Effects Editing 1992), The Lawnmower Man and Virtuosity.

In addition to films, Serafine composes music and effects for video games, (including Grand Theft Auto, Interstate 76, Wing Commander IV, the Pocahontas Animated Storybook, and the TRON arcade game), and is actively involved in simulation projects for entertainment and military applications.

The Serafine Studio was formed in 1981 at Lionsgate Films, and moved into its permanent home in Venice Beach (CA) in 1985. At the state-of-the-art facility, the composer provides sound design, Foley, ADR, editorial and music via sophisticated digital editing systems. All sound sources from the production suites are interfaced directly to the main mix stage. The mix stage is outfitted with a custom theatrical cinema monitoring system, configured for 7.1, 5.1 and Dolby Surround print mastering. Complementing these systems, a diverse assortment of analog and digital synthesizers provides a variety of sounds and textures.

Yamaha TYROS
Just as he did in the 1970's, Serafine employs the keyboard as a primary scoring tool for sounds and effects, recently bringing a new Yamaha TYROS into his arsenal of instruments. "The TYROS has some of the most realistic and most playable sounds I've ever heard," he explains. "In the past, due to the way instruments were set up, you had to have literally dozens of synthesizers set up with a computer, which was all so mechanical and required so much technical ability to make one note of music that it stifled any creativity. It's very instant in its gratification – which is the way music should be.

"I like the 'artificial intelligence," he adds. "The TYROS completely emulates an instrument, and will understand how it will 'move' within a composition through what I call behavioral modeling. For instance, a musician playing a guitar line or walking bass (particularly in jazz and reggae), moves all over the place. There's no rhyme or reason-that's just the way they play. The TYROS has onboard reggae styles where the bass player rocks and it doesn't sound digital. Likewise, the acoustic guitars have multiple levels of velocity.

"The TYROS will play a harmonic with a 'click' or 'swish,' as if someone had hit a string hard or soft. I've also found the drum samples to be incredibly realistic. It not only has thousands of drum patterns, but it also has everything in the orchestra to go with them."

The Yamaha 61-key TYROS features a microphone input, digital mixer, vocal harmonizer, a built-in digital audio system, and professional features like aftertouch, pitch bend and mod wheels. TYROS includes GM compatibility and auto accompaniment features, and can be connected directly to a computer via its USB port. With Yamaha's new Megavoice technology, the hallmark of TYROS is stunningly realistic sounds, complete with physical characteristics of the sampled instrument.

Serafine's work is featured prominently in commercial spots for Pepsi, Kellogg's, Chrysler, CBS, Nike and Jack in the Box, and television episodes of Baywatch, Extreme Sports and VR 5. He continues to create sounds and music for themed entertainment, including various IMAX venues, Busch Gardens' Corkscrew Hill attraction in Williamsburg (VA) and the Sony Beijing Children's Interactive Museum.

For more information on TYROS, write Yamaha Corporation of America, Pro Audio & Combo Division, Portable Keyboards, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA 90622-6600; telephone (714) 522-9011or e-mail

Related Links:
Frank Serafine

The Future of Music and Sound
© 2010 Yamaha Corporation of America. All rights reserved.

Return to Top