Buchla Music Easel

A Portrait of Music Easel

Music Easel is…a few words about Buchla Music Easel

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The Music Easel, released in 1972/73, is a very rare compact Buchla synth that had the Model 208 Stored Program Sound Source module inside of a Model 203-8 briefcase-style metal case. It also used the Model218 pressure-sensitive touch-plate keyboard (with 32 keys). As small as it was it managed to include a 5-stage sequencer, 22 sliders, and over 25 color-coded patch-points. The Music Easel was housed in an aluminum case that closed up like a brief-case for travel purposes with room for its patch cords and memory cards. It is quite similar to the EMS Synthi AKS, but likely more flexible, programmable and even more rare.

The Music Easel also featured a relative breakthrough for its time: Patch storage! But it was rudimentary storage – resistors installed to “program” cards were used. You needed one card full of resistors for each patch and they had to be manually plugged in to be used. They stored slider, switch and knob positions as well as patch-point connections. To be used they had to be inserted into a slot, one at a time, on the upper left side of the synth.

more info at Vintagesynth

CHARLES COHEN AT THE BUCHLA MUSIC EASEL from alex tyson on Vimeo.

A look at the system architecture…Building blocks 

The building blocks that make up the Music Easel individual functions are: Program Card for Storing Presets, 5 Stage Sequencer, Envelope Generator (Attack,Duraion,Decay), Pulser (trigger generator), Random Voltage Source, Complex Oscillator (Wave Morphing, Waveshaping / WaveFolding, Amplitude Modulation, Ring Modulation, Frequency Modulation) Voltage Inverter, Dual LowPassGates, Audio Mixer, Spring Reverb and a Keyboard with Portamento, Appreggiator, Preset Voltage Sources

Design concepts and realization…BEMI Director of Engineering at NAMM

”Exact replica from Don’s schematics of the product he develop in 1973, this being the 40th anniversary of the product and we are bringing back in it’s original form without any DSP’s, VST’s or anything that would be not original.”

”Same layout, the only real changes is we added one range switch for the Modulation Oscillator, which didn’t really effect the original curcuitry of it very much”

”and there is also a some builded circuitry into the keyboard that would allow us some additional functions that are common to the 200e series”

interview courtesy of SonicState

Wave Morphing between different waveforms of the Complex Oscillator 

Wave morphing is a circuitry that gradually morphs between two waveforms, this transition from one spectrum to the other creates very interesting timbral changes that are often associated with how sounds change over their course we call event. Below videos made by luthergr showing morphing from Sine Wave to Square Wave, Sine Wave to Spike Wave and final Sine Wave to Triangle Wave of the Buchla Music Easel

Wavemorphing and Waveshaping

Start from a Sine wave morph into a tringle wave then slowly folding the waveform which is like sweeping of Odd only harmonics (square wave)

Additive Synthesis techniques…Amplitude Modulation and Frequency Modulation

Instead of using the Filter as the basic block for sculpting the sound aka Substractive Synthesis, Additive synthesis techniques move in the opposite direction, Starting from Simple Waveforms (Sine,Trianlge waves) they add harmonic content to the sound using various methods. AM (Amplitude Modulation) and FM (Frequency Modulation) are one of them, Enjoy Music Easel Waveforms scoped by luthergr

videos from: luthergr

Link to Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments

Link to Buchla Music Easel pdf Manual: synthfool.com

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One thought on “Buchla Music Easel

  1. I had a bit of hands on time with the new Music Box recreation of the Easel. It sounds really good. However I do wonder about the $4,000 price tag. Seems that you could buy an awful lot of modules for that if you were already in to a Euro or 5U system.

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