Buchla’s instruments, such as the Music Easel, use a different method of timbre generation than Moog synthesizers. Moog units use oscillators with basic function generator type waveshapes and rely heavily on filtering with 24dB resonant low-pass filters, while Buchlas are geared toward complex oscillators using frequency modulation, amplitude modulation, and dynamic waveshaping to produce other forms of timbre modulation. Many of Don Buchla’s designs, including the Low-Pass Gates (later called Dynamic Managers) contain vactrols, photoresistive opto-isolator employed as voltage-controlled potentiometers, which contribute to a very “natural” Buchla sound.
At the January, 2012 NAMM show, Buchla & Associates announced new ownership, retaining Don Buchla as Chief Technology Officer and investment in the design, manufacturing, and marketing of Buchla products and the development of an expanded product line, and the company moving forward under the name Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments. One year later, Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments re-introduced the Buchla’s Music Easel.
Todd Barton plays the Buchla Easel
“using the keyboard’s arpeggiator to drive the on board Sequential Voltage Source — some fun little patterns and timbres. . .”
“just another “getting my ya-yas” out and havin’ fun. enjoy!”
About the Buchla Easel:
The Music Easel is a highly evolved electronic musical instrument. It maintains many of the design philosophies and functional characteristics of its predecessors, the 100 series Modular Electronic Music System and the 200 series Electric Music Box. The Music Easel introduces some substantial innovations in electronic instrument design – innovations that make it a truly expressive real-time instrument for composition and performance.
The Music Easel contains many of the elements commonly used to generate and process sound: a keyboard, sequencer, pulser, preamplifier, envelope detector and balanced modulator; oscillators, gates, envelope generators and filters; facilities for mixing, monitoring and reverberating. Many of these elements possess an unusual degree of sophistication. The keyboard is solid state, with touch sensitive, chromatically organized keys, accurate and reproducible pressure output, tactile feedback, octave shifting, and voltage controlled portamento. A complex oscillator, developed through computer aided simulation studies, is a rich source of complex audio spectra. featuring voltage control of pitch, timbre and waveform, this oscillator provides the Music Easel with a timbral range unapproached by other musical instruments.
The connectives are as important as the elements to be connected. Interconnection within the Music Easel is accomplished with a combination of switching and patching, a system which is flexible, expedient, and open ended. Logical, compact organization and color coded graphic feedback facilitate rapid and effective interaction. Multiple correlations between a performer’s actions and the Music Easel’s responses are readily implemented, enabling a degree of expressive articulation heretofore impossible with electronic instrumentation.
Further augmenting the Music Easel’s real time performability is the capability of permanently storing and immediately retrieving complete instrument definitions (patches) or portions thereof. (An “instrument definition” includes settings of parameters, degrees of articulation, switch positions and interconnections.) Storage entails the installment of resistors on program cards; retrieval is accomplished by plugging in a desired program card and activating a switch.
With its extended timbral resources, unusual expressive capability, and its facility for storage and recall of instrument definitions, the Music Easel opens new horizons to the composer and performer. To appreciate its potential as a new musical instrument the Music Easel must be seen, heard and played.
Background video description:
To hear a cleaner, higher resolution and more defined panning audio go to:
Thanks to a recent question asked by Chris Pottinger, in a Buchla Skype Tutorial, about the R and S outputs of the Buchla 223e/222e I put together this little video. The wonderful thing about these outputs is that you don’t need to program them, just take banana cables out (there are two outs: one for vertical finger movement the other for horizontal movement) a route them to your favorite parameters.
In this example I routed the vertical cv to vary the tempo of the arpeggiator while the horizontal cv simultaneously varied both the Modulation Index of a Buchla 261e and L-R panning of the 206e mixer.
First exploration with an original Buchla 100. For better audio go to:
The first major synthesizer by Buchla was the modular 100-series produced from about 1963 to the early 1970’s. The system usually consisted of a large wood case with room for a bunch of modules (up to 25 modules on a single power-supply). Although the modules consisted of your basic collection of voltage controlled oscillators, filters, etc. the unique keyboards on this and other models to follow were flat capacitance-sensitive touch-plates. Although they may feel awkward to play, they are pressure sensitive and individually tuneable. There were also 8- and 16-step analog sequencer modules available. Patching and programming a Buchla 100 was a monstrous task since lots of patch cords as well as synthesizer knowledge were a requirement to even get a sound to be heard, and the oscillators usually drift out of tune! These are extremely rare systems but they can make some awesome and unique analog music, if it still works! About the only places where Buchla 100’s can be found nowadays are at the The Audities Collection and a few scattered Schools and Universities across the US.
A recording of a lecture by Todd Barton, Musician, Composer and Buchla Guru. Filmed at Knobcon 2013. Special thanks to Todd Barton and all the sponsers at Knobcon.Sound and Video by Raul Pena.
And here’s the original:
Purchase “The Way Things Fall” in The Ghostly Store:
Directed by Nicola Kuperus
Costume Designs by Levon Millross
Peff explores the Buchla’s percussion capabilities
Background video description:
after a year of working on the Buchla System 200 power supply I kinda gave up on the original power supply and have resorted to using a new 200e power source. however it doesn’t produce the +24vdc for the 265 module. This is just a little test to see how things function, before i dive into work on the easel a bit more.
The Euro Rack system is used to synthesize the perc and drums and also sends clock and random voltages to the Buchla envelope follower. Easel generates the sequence bit, and the 259 creates the the digeridoo-ish drone.
An experiment in destruction of beautiful melodies.
Early 1937 recording processed real-time through a Buchla DIY 200 style clone synthesizer that I built.
Reverb was added via computer plug-in… everything else was one take.
Controlling the Buchla 200 via microphone/envelope detector. See a similar self-generating
patch here: http://youtu.be/JOhjopaPDfs