I’m giving a talk this Saturday in Katoomba (NSW Australia) at 2pm AEST looking at the histories of modular synthesisers, particularly in relation to improvised music and classical tape music processes. The event will be live streamed - I’ll endeavour to put a link up here to the stream once that is confirmed or you can follow the event via FB:
The desire to perform in real time with the possibilities of tape-based studio practice was a key design intention of the first modular synthesisers. The resulting instruments, in particular the Buchla, emphasised possibilities for the creation of musical structure in combination with components designed to enable real time, expressive interaction.
As smaller, keyboard-based synthesiser instruments achieved broad commercial success, many of the possibilities for the real-time creation and manipulation of musical structures, developed in the larger modular synthesiser designs, were not carried forward into the new age of commercial electronic music instruments. The resurgence of the modular synthesiser has seen these possibilities for improvisation of musical structures revisited, opening up processes and approaches that were almost lost to a new generation.
Alex White is currently undertaking a PhD examining the impacts of modular synthesisers upon music composition and performance.