Modular Lovers to Gather in NYC, Celebrate Legacy of Buchla, CV

A look at a Buchla, up close, from Messe in March. Some of the most innovative modules – and certainly some of the strangest parameter and module labels – have come from this designer. And for lovers of all things Control Voltage, a coming event in New York seems a don’t-miss. You could almost call it Buchlafest. Led by Manhattan electronic music hub Harvestworks, fans of modular synthesis, composition and performance with patch cords, and Don Buchla’s modular synths are set to gather in New York this summer. In the video below, they introduce not only their event plans but …


Musikmesse Wrap-up, with Keyboard Magazine: The Latest Gear [Gallery, Roland Wireless Vid]

Like a World’s Fair of all the invention in music technology, the big trade shows still gather many of the latest creations from around the globe. And while the NAMM show in California is big, Musikmesse is bigger: spanning some 11 halls (together with a live lighting and event show called Pro Light+Sound), it’s the biggest on Earth. Having covered NAMM for German publication DE:BUG, I’m thrilled to get to do the reverse and highlight the best of Messe for California-based Keyboard Magazine. Musikmesse 2012 Gear Report [Keyboard Magazine] Instead of trying to cover absolutely everything, this is the stuff …


Richard Lainhart, Prolific Composer and Artist, Dies at 58; Links to His Work

Richard plays Handmade Music in 2007; full video at bottom. I’m saddened to learn of the death of Richard Lainhart, the New York-based composer and artist who has been inseparable from the experimental electronic scene for many years. I knew Richard to be a gentle and imaginative soul, an inventive technologist, someone capable of dreaming up endless soundscapes and auditory worlds. He was also a great contributor to the CDM community, including playing one of the early installments of Handmade Music at Etsy Labs in Brooklyn. (Photo above; full video at bottom.) I think it’s fitting to illustrate Richard with …


Create Analog Music: Buchla Love, Visiting the Studio of a Custom Modular Maker

All photos by Marsha Vdovin for CDM. Click for full-sized, gear pr0n versions. Print large-format, hang above your bed. CDM guest and photographer Marsha Vdovin joins us for a photo essay. Given free reign to choose what she wanted to do, she visits a Buchla module maker. Photos can speak volumes, and here the beauty of Don Buchla’s synth designs come through, a decades-long legacy of open-ended, eminently-musical sound possibilities. So, too, does the craft of the custom Eardrill modules. Disclosure: while we loved both, a number of us preferred the Buchla 100-series modular to the Moog modular we had, …


Madrona’s Randy Jones on Aalto Soft Synth, Designing a New Instrument, Small Makers

Patching together unique sounds on the classic Buchla 100 was an impetus for a new software instrument by Randy Jones – just released for Windows. Photo (CC-BY) guiltyx/roll_initiative. Software can easily enough emulate, down to each knob and patch cord, a vintage synthesizer. But can a genuinely new software synth incorporate the ideas about instrument design beloved in a classic synth like the Buchla modular? How do you balance open-ended sound design with the sorts of limitations that give an instrument personality, limitations that inspire? And could all of this be meaningful even for someone first discovering synthesis, who may …


Interview, Workspace Tour: Alessandro Cortini’s SONOIO Album and Synth

All photos courtesy/(C) Alessandro Cortini, for CDM. Call it cable addiction. Italian-born musician Alessandro Cortini, known for his live keyboard work with Nine Inch Nails, retreated into the studio with classic and contemporary Buchla modular synths to make “SONOIO.” Guided by his uniquely personal compositional style, he was able to wrangle that mess of chords and layers of analog sound into a genuine collection of beautifully-written songs, stacked high with Buchla timbral goodness. The first four songs are free, with downloads starting at US$7.99 and physical records with bundled music at US$9.99 and up. But SONOIO isn’t just a record …


Meaningless Fun: Facebook “Give an Analog Synth” App

  Here’s the one and only Facebook app you’ll ever hear me get enthusiastic about. You know the Facebook apps, of course – this overhyped “platform” generally involves time-wasting, spam-like “Someone you barely know just sent you a cupcake” emails. But I like this one: Analog Synths


Music Tech History Day: Inventor Don Buchla, Interviewed

Don Buchla is another special pioneer whose impact on music technology has been far-reaching. (He turned 71 last week. Happy Birthday, Don!) He’s best known as the Chevy to Moog’s Ford — that is, the other rival US modular synth system in the 60s. Moog and Buchla were so close, in fact, in introducing their modulars and the innovations to follow that it’s often hard to say who was really first — and their approaches were different enough that it probably doesn’t matter. But Buchla also went on to be one of the key pioneers in alternative interface design. His …


Vintage Buchla Easel Action, and Inspiration for Modern Tangible Interfaces

With talk of instruments like the Tenori-On, and looking to the future of tangible interfaces for music, it’s worth exploring past designs, as well. Take Don Buchla’s Music Easel — concocting sounds with this rare 70s instrument was a matter of plugging, touching, and patching. Digital sounds and music sequencers do plenty this can’t, but if it was possible to make the Music Easel’s functions tangible, why not digital instruments, as well? Artist Alex Tyson has been bugging us about this for a few days, and I finally got to watch it. It’s really lovely. (And, yeah, now I really …


The Joy of Modular: Exploring the Buchla 200e at BuchlaWorks Site

For many, the notion of producing sound by patching spaghetti-like nests of cords in hardware is a historical curiosity. Even among those who appreciate this hardware for what it is, conventional wisdom says such instruments aren’t really modern. (Don’t even ask the various universities who gave up on using and maintaining the gear entirely, relegating them to dusty closets — or much worse.) Modular synths are under pressure in 2007 to compete with lots of new technologies. Is it worth making music with them? Composer/musician Richard Lainhart has taken up what is perhaps the most modern of modular analog synths …