Gino Robair is former editor of EM

Archive for September, 2010

Surprise Yourself

Korg Monotron

Last night, while reviewing a new synthesizer, I was reminded of a conversation I had with electronic-instrument pioneer Don Buchla, when I interviewed him and a number of other innovators for the June 2010 EM feature “Genius Bar.� The main topic that morning was about the future of electronic instrument design, and my particular interest was in hearing where these men thought we were headed, based on their decades of experience. Buchla was quiet throughout most of the morning’s conversation before, finally, taking me aside and giving me his opinion personally.

“The breakdown is that the [designs] that are accepted, and used, and developed further are those that are most closely linked to the thought,� he said. He went on to explain that when you have to think while playing an instrument there will be a delay between what you want to do in the musical moment and the resulting sound. This “sonic latency� removes you from the present, as can “non-familiarity with the process and the outcome of the process,� as he put it. more

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Natural Sounds and a Wobbly History of Sound Art

cicada.jpg

One of my favorite “electronic music� pieces wasn’t really created with electronic instruments. In fact, you’d never guess the source of the sounds from just listening to the track. And once you do learn its origin, it’s hard to believe it. My friend Wobbly shares this view. Allow me to explain.

A Warm Buzz
Sitting outside Eyedrum, a performance space in Atlanta, while waiting to play a show on a hot summer evening, I was treated to the incredible song of the region’s cicadas. The cycling hum resembled filtered, rhythmic sequences from a synthesizer, and they were astonishingly loud considering their acoustical origin. more

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