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.