This week, I’m finishing up a trip to Berlin, where I played in the MaerzMusik Festival, followed by a mini-tour to the Czech Republic. I decided to forego Musikmesse in Frankfurt altogether, in order to get to know the musicians in Germany’s capital a little better.
Among the highlights of the trip so far (besides the gigs, of course) were behind-the-scenes visits to Ableton and Native Instruments (including a peek at a few unannounced projects at the labyrinthine offices of the latter). NI had a banner year in 2009, and they’ve got a lot of great products coming down the pike. For example, check out the video demos of their new drum collection, Abbey Road 70s Drums. Not only does it sound amazing, but the programming under the hood makes it very flexible. I also got a quick look at the upcoming rev of Reaktor, along with a quick chat with the man who designed it, Stephan Schmitt.
But the synth-geek in me was most excited about visiting the new Schneiders Buero shop, now called SchneidersLaden, which is truly analog heaven in Europe. Schneider has a dry sense of humor that extends to the design and vibe of his store, as well as his display at Musikmesse, which he appropriately calls SuperBooth because of its vast collection of hardware goodies.
He is also very active in fostering a community of synth enthusiasts, which includes workshops at SchneidersLaden. In a recent one, each participant was given a bag of parts and shown how to assemble a battery-powered synth within a small plastic soap dish. The kits included a miniature speaker, making the final product a complete and fully portable instrument. When I contacted Andreas Schneider a few weeks ago about my visit, he invited me to a DIY workshop that Dieter Doepfer would conduct on March 18. I made sure I had nothing else going on that evening so that I could attend.
Doepfer had announced his analog synth kit at the 2010 NAMM show, and I imagined that this month’s event would cover some of the finer points of the product. Due to ship in May, the monophonic DIY Synth includes a PC board that has been preassembled and tested, as well as detailed schematics, building instructions, and all the parts. Although it’s not designed for novice builders, the kit should be a relatively easy (and fun) project for someone with a bit of experience. (If you are interested in getting started analog synth building, check out the kits designed by John Blacet.)
However, when I arrived at SchneidersLaden for the workshop, I was surprised to find that the powered mixer Herr Doepfer was using was of the culinary kind. In the spirit of a Fluxus event, Berlin’s hardcore synth fans were treated to a cooking class focusing on a particular desert from Tyrol. It was a lighthearted gesture, but Doepfer approaches baking as methodically as he does electronics, and it was inspiring to see him whip up a delicious cake by memory.
Although he describes both DIY projects primarily in German in the attached video, he did give me a rundown of the evening in English, which I have also included. I apologize for not documenting how quickly we ate the project, but I was a bit distracted by this delicious treat.