Modular Diary – 043

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon, and looking at one of the short videos included in FactMag’s interview with Subotnick I was struck by his comment that one of the most difficult aspects for him to determine at the time was how long things should go on for. Listening to the piece with that in mind casts a particular light on its episodic nature and the pacing and duration of those ‘scenes’.

Something else that struck me was his anecdote about how loudly he played the music in his studio while working on it. I remember a history of music class back in my early days at university where I suggested listening to Silver Apples (which didn’t particularly grab me at the time) and Varèse’s Déserts at low volume. How wrong I was! I’d recently revisited Silver Apples, listening to it on headphones, and appreciating it much more from my present perspective, but gave it another shot blasting it out loud though my Genelecs. Makes sense.

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.