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ATC Revisited: Don Buchla

ThumbnailDon Buchla offered a crowd-pleasing performance on March 10th as part of the Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium.

Buchla presented his modular electronic musical instrument, the Polyphonic Rhythm Generator. When used in conjunction with sound generating modules, the instrument forms a sophisticated metronome able to express odd meter music commonly found in Eastern Europe and Africa.

WIth the help of virtuoso Rumen Sali Shopov, Buchla was able to demonstrate the application of the Polyphonic Rhythm Generator to Eastern European musics. Shopov played along to Buchla’s contraption, following stresses projected from the instrument onto a screen. Buchla’s wife, Nannick Bonnel, then played the grand piano, listening to the complicated rhythms provided by the metronome. The lecture culminated in a performance by Buchla’s associate Joel Davel, who demonstrated the cross rhythms the instrument affords with some master mixer manipulation onstage.

Educated in physics, physiology, music, and astronomy, Don Buchla’s multi-faceted creativity has been applied to fields as diverse as space biophysics research, musical instrument design, and multi-media composition. Much of his work has centered on the refinement of communication channels between man and machine, notably the invention of mobility aids for the visually handicapped, the development of instrumentation for bio-feedback and physiological telemetry, and the design of interactive electronic musical instruments and performance-oriented music languages.

He is currently completing a major redesign of the 200 series modular synthesizer (the 200e, of which the Polyphonic Rhythm Generator forms a part) and contemplating his next project.

Check back later for the audio and video to this amazing event!

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