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


macumbista said...

Hi Jason...

coming out of lurker mode for a second to say thanks for documenting your sonic explorations (once again!).

I've been building a Serge/Buchla DIY mashup exactly for this chaotic cross synthesis. I was trying to get a peek at your cover art there...you're using the LPGs as the non-linear function of the feedback loop? Interesting!

Best from Berlin...Derek (macumbista.net)

Jason R. Butcher said...


The patch uses two cross-coupled fluctuating random voltage generators to modulate the LPGs (and thus amounts of FM cross-modulation), VCOs, and 275 VCAs. There is also some manual tuning of each VCO's initial frequency and waveshape and alteration of LPG characteristics.

I'm glad you enjoy the work - and thanks for commenting.

- Jason

Indexofmetals said...

having trouble getting the email link working - if there's any left I'd love to get one


Richard (from the Isle of Man)