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Synth designer Don Buchla dies

Buchla 200 inventor dies, aged 79

The Buchla 200e, one of pioneer Don Buchla's flagship instruments.Photo: Mark EwingSynthesizer pioneer Don Buchla has died, aged 79.

Buchla was one of the forefathers of modern synthesizers — his designs epitomising ‘West coast synthesis’. As opposed to the ‘East-coast’ style of synthesis developed by Buchla’s contemporary Bob Moog — the idea being to subtract frequencies from a complex waveform with a filter — the ’West coast’ style eschews filters and instead relies on frequency modulation (FM), ring modulation, wavefolding and various other processors. The difference is neatly summed up here.

In 1963, Buchla was commissioned by American electronic music composer Morton Subotnick to create a new electronic instrument. Although the prototype Moog Modular was revealed in 1964, Buchla’s 100 Series did appear in 1965 and can be heard on Subotnick’s 1967 release Silver Apples of the Moon.

Buchla continued designing electronic instruments throughout his life — some notable examples being the Buchla Music Easel and the Buchla 200e.

Don Buchla is survived by his wife Anne-Marie Bonnel; his two daughters Jeannine Serbanich and Erin Buchla; his son, musician Ezra Buchla; and two grandchildren. 

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