Once Upon a Tine – The Rhodes Chroma

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This week on ‘Once Upon a Tine’:

Welcome back to ‘Once Upon A Tine’. In this series, we look at the deep history and musical legacy of Rhodes electrical instruments.

The legendary Chroma synthesizer is a fascinating curiosity within the Rhodes lineup, as it contains neither tines nor hammers.

ARP originally designed this analogue polysynth powerhouse, yet as the company dissolved in 1981, the project was taken up by Harold Rhodes and released as Rhodes’ premiere synthesizer.

The Chroma design was purchased by CBS Musical Instruments, who owned Fender guitars and put into production by their Rhodes Division in 1982 as the Rhodes Chroma. They also released a keyboard-less version of the Chroma called the Chroma Expander.

The Chroma has a 64-note velocity-sensitive weighted keyboard and sixteen voices with one oscillator per voice, making it a complex but powerful synthesizer.

Some notable users of the Chroma include Jethro Tull, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul and Oscar Peterson.

Rhodes Chroma synthesizer from page 69 of Keyboard magazine October 1982.