Chaotic Synthesis

A few months ago, I created a series of recordings in response to an incredible article highlighting some of the most remarkable properties of the Buchla Oscillators of the 100 and 200 series. The article is Dan Slater's Chaotic Sound Synthesis, published in Computer Music Journal, Summer 1998 Volume 22, Number 2, ISSN 0148-9267. Here is a photograph from the article, of a CBS Performance System 3 featuring a chaotic patch:

CBS Performance System 3 with a chaotic patch - photo courtesy Dan Slater

This article was also available for a period on the web, at a time when there was very little info of Buchla systems to be found. If only those who now decry what they perceive as "secrecy" on the part of Buchla users knew how hard it was to find out exactly what a Kinesthetic Input Port was ten or more years ago! In any case, I digress.

The article is a wonderful resource filled with several very interesting approaches to creating chaotic sound - and once my 200 was operational, I almost immediately began directed experiments in order to explore some of the territory Slater describes.

Chaotic Synthesis Recording #3 (edit), August 2009:

If you would like a copy of the entire (19:40) recording, I have self-produced a limited CD release of 20, priced at $10 to be sold at some upcoming shows. E-Mail me if you'd like to order one. Here is a photo of the CD and the single sided bristol "cover" - that features an illustration of the patch used for the piece:

CSR3 CD edition

For some other demonstrations of Buchla VCO cross-modulation characteristics be sure to check out the following links:
Christian Mirande's 258 Demonstration video
Mono-Poly's 158 Demonstration audio
Mono-Poly's 144 Demonstration audio


3 Edits

Here are some snippets of three recent tracks - all single-take recordings of the buchla 200 without any additional equipment. Reverb was added in protools afterward. The patch developed for "A Difficult Embouchure" is more or less what is at the core of each of these tracks, with deviations and additional modules besides the 259 and 266 occasionally being incorporated. Self Playing Suite (edit)

Comprised of several (~12) single-take segments of a single patch, between which I made adjustments mainly to the timing and timbral parameters at work (but without changing the actual patch interconnections).

12.23.09 (edit)


This experiment was conducted in a similar manner to playing the "Operation" boardgame. The 259's modulation oscillator CV output was fed back to its processing input, and in addition, several other CVs were stacked to this same connection (4 or more). For the duration of this track, I merely held the banana plug connection inside the jack but didn't not fully plug it in, touching it erratically to the sides, making or breaking the connection. At various points, gate modes were altered as well. This is a bit unusual in that few (perhaps none) of the other tracks using this core patch make any use of the 292C Lopass Gate at all.

1.20.10 (edit)

This track represents an attempt to replicate a track from December which substituted the 258C for the 259 I most often rely on as a sole or primary source with excellent results. This track lacks the subtleties of the original (which relied heavily on sine>square transitions), but has more variation due to the 259's expanded capabilities. The 275 was critical to this piece in adding character/dimension.