The innovation of Buchla synthesisers

Buchla’s innovative mind has always been a step ahead and absolutely unique compared to the rest of manufacturers of that time. This article will show you curious facts about the innovative design of the Buchla synthesisers.

The designer’s approach

Don Buchla began to see the whole naming convention of synthesiser differently. He felt it as the name ‘synthesiser’ gives the Buchla series an impression of imitating sound that already exist. For example, traditional instruments like violin, cello, guitar etc. His vision of Buchla series was absolutely to create a new kind of sound. Not necessarily limiting Buchla series to imitate sound that already exist.

With this in mind, he also maintained an unique naming convention that was  also unique in its feature. For instance, he named one of his modular components, “Multiple Arbitrary Function Generator”. Feature wise it was deeper, the whole Multiple Arbitrary Function Generator (MARF) goes the typical sequencer of the time and was capable of generating sound and could act as one of the envelope generator, LFO, Voltage Quantiser and CV selector and more!

Generating sounds with Buchla

Buchla instruments, like one of the Music Easel, use quite a different approach of generating musical timbre than the then competitor Moog Synthesisers. Moog synthesisers were most prominent for its 24db resonant Low pass filters, which was primarily responsible for Moog’s timbre. Buchla’s approach to play around with timbre were quite complex and could give you crazy timbre added to your sound by playing around with oscillators through frequency modulation, dynamic waveform shaping, amplitude modulation. This gives you an insane sound rich in harmonics.

Many of Don Buchla’s design contains advance technological components that is quite different than the then Moog Modulars. Honestly, Moog modulars were more user-friendly than Buchlas. It takes a little while to get adjusted to the whole world of Buchla though. Once you are in it, it can become absolutely addictive and you can play around with it all day long!

Further projects of Don Buchla

In 1980s, Don started to fade away from the Buchla modular series and begun to focus more on MIDI controllers than modular synthesisers. This was the case for lot of then sound and musical instruments engineers due to the vast capability of MIDI controllers. Buchla’s controllers were Thunder, Lightning and the Marimba Lumina. All of these MIDI controllers looked like some sort of alien tools.

Buchla in business with modular from 2004 with the 200 series. One of the brilliant composer with Buchla is Suzzane Ciane. You can certainly check out her works how she designed her whole world with Buchla series.