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EMS presents VCS4

Free event and live stream

Goldsmiths EMS VCS4 event and live stream

The Electronic Music Studios in the Department of Music at Goldsmiths, University of London are hosting a day of performances, talks and discussions featuring the unique EMS VCS4 Live Performance Module synthesizer. Taking place this coming Thursday (23rd June 2022) between 2pm and 8:30 pm, the event will be held at Goldsmiths Cinema in the Richard Hoggart Building of the university for a live audience of 50 people, as well as being streamed live.

The VCS4 was built by the world-renowned Electronic Music Studios Ltd (EMS) company in London more than 50 years ago and was one of a number of synthesizers used in the 1970s by pioneers of British electronic music. It is now a key element of Goldsmiths’ modular synthesizer suite, where it is available for use by music students, researchers and visiting artists.

The instrument is based on two EMS VCS3 synthesizers — a portable analogue synthesizer developed in 1969 and used by Delia Derbyshire, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Brian Eno, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Robert Fripp and Aphex Twin. The VCS3s in the VCS4 have been heavily modified and incorporated into a base station featuring a keyboard, external audio input mixer, and signal processing inside a wooden cabinet (as shown above).


2.00 – 2.10. Welcome and introduction

2.10 – 2.45. EMS History. Frances Morgan and Jim Gardner in conversation. How does the VCS4 fit into the overall EMS picture?

2.45 – 3.15. Harrison Birtwistle and Medusa. Discussion with Frances Morgan, Tom Hall, Jim Gardner and Steve Thomas. Other historic performances: A/V documentation and discussion. Including Entering by Peter Donebauer: Video with music by Simon Desorgher

3.15 – 3.45. History of the VCS4. Frances Morgan, Simon Desorgher, Lawrence Casserley and James Bulley in conversation

3.45 – 4.30. Performance/talk/playback session with Lawrence Casserley and Simon Desorgher

4.30 – 4.45. Break

4.45 – 5.15. VCS4 Technical background. Talk by Steve Thomas with live demonstration

5.15 – 5.45. VCS4 at Goldsmiths   contemporary performances. Documentation and discussion between Marcus Leadley, current students and alumni

5.45 – 6. 00. Break

6.00 – 6.30. Performance by Olivir Haylett.

6.45 – 7.15. Performance by Ingrid Plum (alumni/fellow)

7.30 – 8.00. Performance by Alina Kalancea (independent artist)

8.00 – 8.30. Final Q&A and wind up

Eventbrite page for live event:

Live stream link:

More information on the VCS4, along with other vintage instruments in Goldsmiths’ collection can be found here:

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