Stimulating voltage - Page 2

On and off the record with synth inventor and electronic design innovator Don Buchla

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In the 1984 book The Art of Electronic Music, Subotnick tells Jim Aikin that Buchla synthesizers are notable for "the way things are designed and laid out, so that a composer can impose his or her own personality on the mechanism. For example, Don always disassociated a voltage controlled amplifier from its control voltage source. That meant that the voltage source could be used for controlling anything. It wasn't locked into a single use ... That kind of sophistication has given him [a reputation] as the most interesting of all the people building this kind of equipment."

The first Buchla Box, using touch-sensitive pads or ports rather than a standard keyboard, was funded with a $500 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Today it's permanently ensconced at Mills College. On a side note, Buchla estimates it would easily go for $30,000. Buchla still tackles new designs — he has a multichannel filter that can serve as a Vocoder coming out next month — and his instruments, it seems, "don't depreciate at all, so they're good investments."

"But I prefer to build them for playing." 

11TH SAN FRANCISCO ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL

Wed/8–Sat/11, various times, $10–$40 (pass)

(Alessandro Corti and Don Buchla perform Thurs/9, 8 p.m., $10–$16)

Brava Theatre (except Fri/10 at de Young Museum)

2781 24th St, SF

(415) 861-3257

www.sfemf.org

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