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 want Alex’s camera, too.)


Alex writes:

This colorful video features sound artist Charles Cohen improvising on a 1970’s Buchla Music Easel. This extremely rare instrument is one of Don Buchla’s 200 series. Buchla (a pioneer of audio synthesis) only manufactured 14 of these units. The entire film was edited from an hour-long set of free improvisation, with audio was taken directly from Charles’ mixing board.

All of the photography and editing was produced by Alex Tyson, a sound and video artist from Pennsylvania. The film was shot in 16:9 720p High Definition format, with only a 35mm LensBaby 3GPL.

Mmmmm… LensBaby. Yeah, this is motional porn as well as musical. (Update – looks like Tom at Music Thing is enjoying as well.)

For more Buchla improv action on a newer generation of hardware, check out Richard Lainhart on his Buchla 200e and Continuum setup, playing at our Handmade Music event hosted with Make Magazine and Etsy Labs. (Side note: if you’re using YouTube for documentation, don’t miss the latest tips for getting better quality — with help from Richard — over on Create Digital Motion. Got some clips myself I’ll be uploading with that information in hand.)

That’s not Richard’s video as he was busy playing; his vids — employing those YouTube tricks — are available on Richard’s YouTube channel.