Modular Diary – 044

A few weeks ago, while taking a look at the ARP Odyssey, I came across the Bright Sparks documentary. I finally got around to purchasing it and have been working my way through the chapters bit by bit. The picture above is shown in the Buchla section, and I haven’t since been able to get its playfulness and charm out of my head.

A quick image search led me to Todd Barton’s website, where it turns out he has recently put together a series of video tutorials based on Allen Strange’s 1974 user manual for the Buchla Music Easel, from which the picture is taken.1 A synthesizer manual like no other! And a look at the Buchla website, where I’ve also noticed the weasel lounging about, led me to a PDF of the 2013 2nd Edition of that manual.

  1. The same Allen Strange that wrote the extensive Electronic Music Systems, Techniques, And Controls, available at 

Modular – Diary 039

Looking at new experimental modules it’s amazing how often Don Buchla’s name comes up as the source of inspiration. His Source of Uncertainty as source for the Turing Machine, the Wiard Woggle Bug, the Make Noise Wogglebug, an Audulus Wuzzlebuzz, and the Erica Synths Wogglebug, for example. There’s also his dual oscillator Complex Waveform Generator and outside in approach to interface design that has found resonance in recent years.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Morton Subotnick’s seminal Silver Apples of the Moon, a piece which he describes as “a pretty complex piece for my first one and I worked six days a week minimum, 10 to 12 hours a day for 13 months making that.” It was created using the Buchla 100, the instrument Subotnick comissioned Buchla to create for the San Francisco Tape center in 1963.

It’s a year ago and a day, that Don Buchla passed away.