Music 307

Lab 3: Buchla Synthesizer

ASSIGNMENT: Create a Buchla "etude" of 2-5 minutes in duration

ENJOY! This might be the only genuine "vintage" Buchla you ever get your hands on :-)
The Buchla is a historical treasure at this point. Please handle with care!


METHOD: Experiment with the Buchla by creating several patches, and listening to how you can modify the sound an a myriad of ways. Since the goal is to make a short piece using this material, you should record your sessions using Pro Tools. Also jot down (or take a photo, or use this BUCHLA PatchingTemplate) what you did, so you can try to recreate the patch later on. Since it is difficult (but possible) to perform live on the Buchla without any "dead air" or mistakes, you will want to record your raw material directly to Pro Tools, and then copy/move the audio file(s) to any DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) or sound editor of your choice to edit/mix this material into a short piece. If you want to "layer" different sounds from the Buchla, you can use your DAW to layer them into a multitrack editing session to create a more complex texture with any amount of polyphony. IMPORTANT: This is a Buchla assignment. Of course it's fine to use an audio editor to assemble your final piece, but I do not want a massive use of effects or other sounds: your piece should be made of sounds you created from the Buchla itself! It's fine to use your voice or an instrument as input to the Buchla, but the sounds should be coming from the Buchla.

When you are done, describe your patch(es) in English, and upload this document with the audio file in the dropbox in Brightspace.
Make sure your name is in the title of all files!
Your final version will be a single audio file.


-- How to use the keyboard to control pitch (with no envelope) simple keyboard control (you only need one patch cord!)
-- How to create an amplitude envelope on the sound, using the keyboard: BuchlaEnvelopePatch.pdf

-- Live audio into the Buchla (for ring modulation or other processing):
You can send live audio into the Buchla for processing using the 1/4" phone jack on the MIXER/PREAMPLIFIER MODEL 207.
This can be a microphone or a line level signal, or a guitar for example.
Here is a photo of how to do it -- how to "ring modulate" your voice: microphone.JPG, or template version of this patch: ring modulate from live input
(Settings: low impedance, gain 70 for dynamic microphone)

-- The SOURCE OF UNCERTAINTY MODEL 266 is a fascinating module. You can either use it as a sound source for subtractive synthesis (using filters) or also as a control voltage for interesting modulation of frequency, etc.

-- It is possible to control the Buchla from a computer using the MIDI-to-voltage module MIDI / USB DECODER MODEL 225e. This allows you to control the Buchla from any MIDI device and/or from a laptop running Max if you so desire, which of course opens many creative doors. We will leave this as an option for the Final Project, though if you're really interested, you can certainly use this option for Lab 3. You'll find some example Max/MSP patches on Brightspace. More info about using the MIDI-to-voltage module here (written by a recent student in MUS 307): Model 225e tutorial. Note that we now have a MIDI interface installed (it's in the rack just to the right of the the faders), so you can ignore the section on the MIDI interface; just use the one that's built-in to talk to the Buchla.

-- You can work in QUAD, which is really fun (the Buchla has 4-channel output and there are speakers connected to chans 1-4). You can also record in quad with the first four channels on the console using Pro Tools or Reaper, then save your session and take it home to edit on your own DAW (or edit in the studio). Likely, your final mix-down will be stereo, but it's fun to experiment with quad in the studio.



Buchla Manual Basic (specific to our model -- introduction)

Buchla Manual Advanced (specific to our model -- more detailed)

200e Manual (this is a newer model)

Suzanne Ciani--Buchla Cookbook

Buchla modules reviewed in the journal Sound on Sound


Dual Voltage Controlled Filter Model 291

Dual Voltage Processor Model 257

Suzanne Ciani on composing with the Buchla (video demonstration)


SIGNAL patch chords have mini-phono (1/8”) jacks; they go into the metal input jacks on the Buchla
VOLTAGE CONTROL patch chords have plastic banana plugs and go into the plastic banana jacks on the Buchla. They are color-coded as follows:
BLACK jacks are inputs (with the exception of the outputs of the DUAL VOLTAGE PROCESSOR module, and the joystick).
BLUE or PURPLE jacks are OUTPUTS. Purple = pressure.
RED jacks are for pulses, and are lableled as inputs or outputs.

NOTE: the banana plugs can be stacked on each other, allowing one output to supply multiple inputs. DO NOT send more than one output to one input!