Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Man Speaks...

While Poking around the beloved MuffWiggler Forums I came across this gem; a video fo a 2007 long lecture/interview with Don Buchla that I feel I just have to share here.

There are a few print interviews with Don Buchla and even more written about him and his ways in various books. He's not know for being verbose and here in an almost comical way he answers many of the interviewer's long run-on statement/questions with a simple "No" or "Yes". However, this interview in particular also covers some other topics such as his work with NASA and details on his career outside of making electronic instruments which I personally find fascinating. There is a section in the book, "The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde" where he talks about his ideas and work making resources for the visually handicapped which is just as original and open minded as anything he has ever put into a synthesizer module. This video offers more of the same in addition to some insight the creation of some of the early Buchla designs, how and why he chose some of the design philosophies he did, as well as covering some parts of the currently manufactured 200e system which this Blog started around.

It's a long interview and at times the interviewer's questions ramble but it's well worth getting through to get some perspective on one of the founders of modern synthesis which you simply won't find anywhere else. The last half or so of the video contains detailed explanations and some pictures and video demos of Buchla's various alternative controllers such as Lightening and even rarer prototypes, etc. It ends with a few questions from the audience. If you ever wanted to go beyond synthesis with Buchlidian philosophy this is the best place I have found to start.

Finally, there are more print and PDF interviews and insight on this MuffWiggler thread as well. All of these constitute a great resource on this fascinating man and his ideas and inventions.

Read on!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Together at last!

My repaired modules were returned earlier this month and for the first time ever my DIY pieces, EarDrill 077, Cyndustries ZOe, and all Buchla 200e modules co-exist in the same cabinet.

For anyone curious on the process Buchla and Associates is (surprise!) decidedly old school. They have a USPS PO box so no shipping via fedex or UPS, etc. I did get a chance to follow up via email with Karl but somewhere in the process my order got finished but not shipped back for a few weeks.

I left a Voicemail and a few emails but it wasn't until we entered the other old school technology - the Live Phone call - that we made progress. I called in the afternoon (PST) and a pleasant older gentleman (Don himself maybe?) answered. He was very polite and friendly and walked back to one of their rooms with me on the phone and said my modules were on the desk. Two days later they were on their way with tracking info emailed to me. Win/WIN!

I traded for my system and got it used and there was one LED out and an issue with the 250e's Dip switches not working. I was pleasantly surprised when there was no charge for the repair! They also paid shipping back to me (not insignificant when you factor in insurance for over $2k in modules). I know a few small synth manufacturers who operate like this and it clearly has to cut into their already limited margins. Contrast this with other manufacturers that void their warranty if you are not the original owner and some won't repair your synth at all if you did not buy it from one of their chosen dealers. All this to say it's one more "nice" thing about B@A that make it seem like the company really is not just a business but a labor of love. When you're dealing with a high end boutique manufacturer you expect a few quirks. It's really nice when you realize they are rather charming ones. Sure, maybe I could have gotten my order back sooner but if this is the way they do business (kind repairs for current owners, trustworthy, pleasant and friendly service) and, of course, perhaps the most insanely original modules available I'm happy to go with the flow.

Along with the order I bought some more 200e tinijack audio cables and a blank panel for more DIY madness. Stay tuned for the next chapter in the life of the Synth and I...