You can’t watch the Orville Brothers and Amelia Earhart go to your local airport. But you can watch music pioneers revisit the first Buchla 100 modular.
In a new clip from the Subotnick documentary, Morton Subotnick joins fellow San Francisco Tape Center founder and multi-disciplinary creator Ramon Sender. (I’ve heard Subotnick credit Pauline Oliveros with the Tape Center’s creation, too – Ramon Sender must have wanted her to be represented, as she appears on a t-shirt.)
That location was birthplace of a lot of what would happen in 60s electronic experimentalism – the anachronistic “tape” name little clue to the radical sounds to come. And one of those lasting accomplishments was Don Buchla’s Buchla 100 modular – the modular system that gave us what now is commonly called the “west coast” sound.
Here, we get to see that very first Buchla 100 modular system as it lives at Mills College.
They get to talk to a third major figure in American experimental music, Maggi Payne. (Payne’s Wikipedia entry gives some indication of how much she does, calling her an “American composer, flutist, video artist, recording engineer/editor, and historical remastering engineer who creates electroacoustic, instrumental, vocal works, and works involving visuals (video, dance, film, slides).” Got all that?)
Payne and Mills are now inseparable, which makes her instrumental in producing ripples in electronic music from that vital institution. She runs the music program, teaches composition and sound engineering and electronic music, and is co-director of Mills’ Center for Contemporary Music. You could think of few better caretakers for the Buchla 100.
The creators of the I Dream of Wires documentary are now doing a new documentary focusing on Subotnick, presently on IndieGogo. This clip does suggest it could be fun to watch.
Other videos include Subotnick talking about the creation of his legendary Silver Apples of the Moon:
— and the great Suzanne Ciani talking about Buchla and Subotnick:
The filmakers remind us that the movie is still up on IndieGogo if you want to fund it, with “many rewards signed by Morton Subotnick, including a 50th-anniversary-edition reissue of “Silver Apples…” on vinyl and tape”:
Subotnick: Portrait of an Electronic Music Pioneer
It also makes me hungry for more work on the experimental scene – and there’s probably a lot more to say about Mills. (Don’t ask me; I was out on the East Coast!)