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date: 08 March 2021

Buchla, Donald Fredericklocked

  • Stephen Ruppenthal
  • , revised by Kyle Devine


(b Southgate, CA, April 17, 1937; d Berkeley, Sept 14, 2016). American electronic instrument designer and builder, composer, and performer. After graduating from UC Berkeley (BA in physics, 1961) Buchla worked on a variety of projects, including a transistorized hearing aid and a NASA bid to send monkeys on long-term space missions. He also became affiliated with the San Francisco Tape Music Center where, alongside composers like Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender, he refined his interest in musique concrète and began searching for electronic alternatives to the laborious and necessarily preplanned cutting and splicing that characterized tape composition. In 1963, with the aid of a Rockefeller Foundation grant, and simultaneously but independently from Robert Moog, he designed and built one of the first voltage-controlled synthesizers, the Modular Electronic Music System (part of the Buchla 100 series). By 1966, the first complete Buchla synthesizer was installed at the Tape Center. He formed Buchla & Associates in Berkeley in the same year to manufacture synthesizers. Apart from a brief period (...

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