[ 18. September 2016 ]

NEWS – Don Buchla 1937 – 2016 Obituary by Barry Truax

Von: Barry Truax

Datum: Sat, 17 Sep 2016

Betreff: [cec-c] Re: Don Buchla 1937 – 2016

Although Don and his creative ingenuity in the world of synthesizer

design has long been acknowledged and admired, as in the header of this

post, may I add a personal tribute to this sad news.

The Buchla 100 was the first synth I ever used compositionally, back in

1969-71, at the Univ. of British Columbia (we still have one in the SFU

studio), and one could say that it hooked me on electronic music.

Although I went on afterwards to the Institute of Sonology with its

sophisticated, custom designed voltage-control studios, and its much

more modest efforts in computer music synthesis and composition, it was

the programmability and improvisatory flexibility of voltage control

that really inspired me. And of course, Mort Subotnick took Don’s

compositional vision to a whole new level – arguably one of the best

designer/composer collaborations in our history.

I will leave it to others to expound on the brilliance and originality

of Don’s long succession of instruments, but let me also remind you all

what a great performer Don was, as well. I will never forget his

performance on multiple instruments of his own design in Bourges, where

he elegantly moved from one setup to another, always perfectly in

control of them, never a hesitation or a false start – a true virtuoso,

creating a professional standard that many other ‚live electronic

musicians‘ can only aspire to.

As he moved into the MIDI world, my other fond memory is of his piece

for percussion and ‚thief‘ (played in this case by himself). It was a

deceptively simple theatrical ploy where the audience is lulled into a

conventional expectation that the performer is actually playing the

percussion instruments on stage – even when the thief removes them one

at a time, and the percussionist continues to ‚air play‘ them in the

very position of their absence. Even when the audience knows the ruse,

or catches on to it, the result was a masterful commentary on virtuality

which, for once, was given a brilliant theatrical presence.

As others have said, this is the end of an era for a great instrument

designer. I trust that there are those who will preserve the amazing

legacy he has created.

Barry Truax