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Wrong Don Buchla?

Mr. Don Buchla

Circuit Board Designer for Innovative Electronic Music Instruments


Direct Phone: (510) ***-****       

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Buchla and Associates


2001 Foothill Blvd #

A9 Grants Pass, Oregon 97526

United States

Company Description

designers of unusual electro-acoustic instrumentation for music ... more

Find other employees at this company (14)

Background Information

Employment History

Co-Director of the Collective

Artists Research

Technical Director

California Institute of the Arts


Advisory Board Member
The Audities Foundation Studio




U.C. Berkeley



University of California , Berkeley

Web References (170 Total References)

History | Don Buchla ... [cached]

History | Don Buchla 1937-2016 History | Buchla

Minicomputers became affordable, and Don built the first hybrid (digitally controlled analog synthesizer) - the 500 series (1971).
And for Oberheim (a Gibson subsidiary), Don designed the OB-Mx (1995). For your edification and amusement, we've collected data on some of these historic instruments. By the mid 80's, MIDI was abundant. Just about every synth had MIDI inputs. But where were the controllers? Didn't MIDI promise something beyond organ keyboards? Don shifted his attention to controllers and designed the Thunder (1990) and Lightning (1991). To be replaced in 1996 with the improved Lightning II. To finish off the millennium in style, Don built the gold edition of the Marimba Lumina. In 2000 and 2001, he added the silver Marimba Lumina 3.5 and the smaller Marimba Lumina 2.5. And in 2002, Don introduced the Piano Bar, now manufactured and distributed by Moog Music Inc. Now for an abrupt switch. In 2002, Don decided that the 200 series was due for improvement, and in 2004, introduced several new modules, calling these the 200e series. Check 'em out.
About Don Buchla
Don Buchla is widely regarded as one of the foremost pioneers in electronic musical instrument design. A quick Google search confirms his industry status: It's impossible to find his name without it being preceeded by "synthesis pioneer" or "legendary" or some other superlative that confirms his place in MI history. His reputation as a true innovator of synthesizers and unique performance controllers is honored and revered by fellow engineers, musicians, artists, composers, and academia.
Buchla received a degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1960. He constructed his first voltage-controlled synthesizer in 1963, and since then has produced a variety of conceptually and technically innovative instruments, each one advancing the state-of-the-art in electronic instrument design.
Buchla has consulted for multiple instrument manufacturers, including CBS, Kimball Piano, Zeta Music, Yamaha International, Gibson Guitars, and E-Mu Systems. He has served as technical director of California Institute of the Arts, technical director of the Electric Symphony, and co-director of the Artists' Research Collective. He holds several patents in the fields of optics and musical instruments. Don has received grants from the Veterans Administration (guidance devices for the blind), the Guggenheim Foundation (music languages), and the National Endowment for the Arts (composition). In 2002 he was honored with the prestigious SEAMUS Lifetime Achievement Award "in recognition of his pioneering achievements and lifetime contribution to the art and craft of electro-acoustic music."
Don Buchla Interview
In that spirit, it's worth noting that Buchla tends to not refer to his instruments as synthesizers, since the name connotes imitating existing sounds and/or instruments. Rather, his intent is to make instruments for creating new sounds. Unrestrained artistic expression is the order of the day.
Buchla's design goal manifests itself in many ways, including the omission of a standard piano-style key-board and the addition of a unique "multi-dimensional kinesthetic input port" controller. His method of timbre (tone) generation is not mainstream either, with his frequent use of complex waveshaping oscillators (complex in the sounds they produce, not in operation) rather than the more traditional oscillator/filter combination common to most synthesizers.
Even the nomenclature used for Buchla's modular components is unique, yet appropriately descriptive. Rather than an oscillator, filter, amplifier, and sequencer, Buchla's instruments have a Complex Waveform Generator, a Multiple Arbitrary Function Generator, a Source of Uncertainty, a Quad Dynamics Manager, and so on.
Buchla has taken his electronic instrument design approach far beyond sound generation into the world of unique performance controllers. Thunder, a tactile, infinitely-programmable control surface, and Lightning, a gesture controller that generates performance data based on the user's spatial movements, are but two of his incredibly advanced, mold-breaking-and mind-boggling-designs. One might think, based on the seemingly esoteric nature of Buchla's designs, that the use of his instruments is limited to experimental, electronic, or computer-based music.

Don ... [cached]

Don Buchla

synthhead NEWS Buchla, Don Buchla, Electronic Musicians, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Music News, Suzanne Ciani, synd
synthhead NEWS Barry Schrader, Bob Moog, ContinuuCon, Don Buchla, East Coast Synthesis, history of electronic music, modular synthesizers, Morton Subotnick, No Coast Synthesis, Suzanne Ciani, synd, Tomita, Tony Rolando, Wendy Carlos, West Coast Synthesis
Rolando talks about how different musical goals shaped the technical decisions that Bob Moog and Don Buchla made, and ... Continue reading →
Peter Kirn NEWS acoustic, analysis, Bob Moog, create-acoustic-music, create-mechanical-music, Don Buchla, Features, history, John Eaton, keyboards, mechanical, moog, multi-touch, NEWS, Nils Frahm, physical modeling, piano, piano day, pioneers, Steinway, synd, technology, yamaha
Moog joined in a historic collaboration with fellow synth pioneer Don Buchla to create the instrument.
elisabeth NEWS Alessandro Cortini, Amos Gaynes, Daniel Lanois, Don Buchla, Electronic Music & Recording Gear, electronic music events, Electronic Musicians, Events, Gary Numan, GZA, Jaron Lanier, Laurie Anderson, Moogfest, Moogfest 2016, Reggie Watts, Robert Rich, Suzanne Ciani, synd, The Orb, YACHT
Peter Kirn NEWS australia, BEMA, Buchla, Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments, court, Don Buchla, Hardware, history, legal, Modular, pioneers, synd, Synthesizers, Uncategorized, USA
But a new legal battle between Don Buchla and the current Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments is unprecedented on a number of levels.
First, Buchla (the brand) is unusually dependent on Don Buchla's legacy. Don's mug shot appears the moment you open the site, with a long history that talks about him (by first name) before ever mentioning the product. There are top-level menu items on the site for "History of Buchla" and "Don Buchla. And the products themselves are high-end, boutique devices, sold with the expectation that you see a Buchla synth as worth more than someone else's synth.
What you won't see on that site is the fact that Don Buchla himself was terminated from the company that bears his name, back in April 2014. And you definitely won't learn that Don Buchla is now suing this new company and its parent, Audio Supermarket Pty. Ltd. of Australia, for breach of contract.
And that legal battle seems likely to get very ugly indeed, uglier than anything I can recall in the time I've been covering electronic instruments.
The legal dramatics begin right in the introduction, including the suggestion that Don Buchla may have invented the synthesizer: "In 1962, he began work on one of the first, if not the first, music synthesizer: the Buchla Series 100. (Emphasis theirs. But I can answer that: no, not the first.) It also describes his battle with cancer and calls his buyer tortuous and malicious. At one point, the complaint includes a claim by Don Buchla that the new buyers cause a stroke he suffered in 2014.
But moving as those arguments may be, they're not the substance of the case. Let's cut to the material specifics. The suit claims:
Buchla allegedly was pressure into unfair terms. Don Buchla signed a Memorandum of Understanding - not yet an explicit purchase agreemement - in November 2011, according to the suit. At this point, he didn't yet have legal counsel. Those same terms did find their way into an Asset Purchase Agreement and an Employment Agreement (after which Don Buchla did engage counsel).
The new owners allegedly breached the purchase terms. There are three parts to this: first, that the defendants paid under $110,000 instead of the $550,000 the suit says they were obligated to pay (regardless of sales); two, that they failed to pay a $30,000 closing cost; three, that they failed "to use reasonable business efforts to reach sales targets. That final charge seems harder to prove, but the former two would seem to depend on a reasonably straightforward reading of the agreements. (Without seeing them, it's impossible to know.)
The new owners allegedly fired Don Buchla without cause, breaching the employment terms. The plaintiffs allege that Don Buchla was terminated without cause.
The key to how the plaintiffs might try to defend this is in the complaint, in the "bad faith" portion:
"Defendants responded by intentionally seeking to trigger the reduction in purchase price tied to Mr. Buchla's "unavailability" by, inter alia, making unreasonable, unfair, and/or impossible demands of Mr. Buchla under the Employment Agreement."
In other words, it appears that both Buchla's termination and the lower payment price will be connected by the defendants to his "unavailability" under the contract, just as the plaintiffs claim this was the fault of the new owners.
It also appears that sales targets at Buchla aren't what the parties expected - and that the company may be unable to fill orders or pay suppliers: "On information and belief, Defendants lack sufficient funds to pay Mr. Buchla what he is owed under the Agreements.
The suit seeks to declare the contract void and return Buchla's name, intellectual property, assets, and even purchase orders to Don Buchla, plus damages - or provide $500,000 in damages or more for breach of contract.
synthhead NEWS Buchla, Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments, Don Buchla, modular synthesizers, Music News, synd
Don Buchla, right, is taking the current owners of the Buchla Electronic Musical Instrument brand, Audio Supermarket Pty., to court. According to a report by Fact: Buchla alleges he was promised $440,000 for the sale of the company, but has ... Continue reading →
Peter Kirn NEWS 4ms, Analog Damage, Boomstar, Buchla, create-analog-music, Dave Smith, Doepfer, Don Buchla, drum-machines, Eurorack, Expert Sleepers, Filters, Germany, Hardware, I Dream Of Wires, Jomox, koma-electronik, LEM, Make Noise, Modular, Mutable Instruments, NAMM, NAMM15, Oberheim, SEM, Sequencers, Studio Electronics, synd, synths, Tip Top, Uncategorized, USA, USB, Verbos, Waldorf
At the same time as the East Coast / New York crew were working away on the Moog, California had Don Buchla, the Buchla modular, and the scene around the San Francisco Tape Music Center. While Moog collaborated with the likes of Herb Deutsch, Buchla had Morton Subotnick.
That's essential to the diversity in the modular ecosystem now, both in new hardware from the reborn Moog and Buchla names, but also in the many boutique creations inspired by their various designs.
And this was a very good year for the West Coast designs.
First of all, you can finally get a real (new) Buchla at prices that come down to earth, even if the product name cleverly invokes the moon.
synthhead NEWS Apple iPad, Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments, Buchla Music Easel, Don Buchla, Electronic Instruments, modular synthesizer, modular synthesizers, synd
When Don Buchla designed the Music Easel synthesizer, originally released in 1973, he included a forward thinking expansion slot. Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments has built on this concept.

Upcoming shows [cached]

April 5, 2002: Joel joins Don Buchla and Peter Apfelbaum to form "Fried Suck.

Joel appears in solo performance and with Don Buchla as part of "Electric Words": an electronic music festival at Venue 9, San Francisco.
October 29th 2004,Buchla 200e series launch . I'll be playing one of the new synths.
A.E.S. sponsored presentation of San Francisco Electronic Music Pioneers 4:30 . Moderator: Mark Vail (author of Vintage Synthesizers) Panelists: Don Buchla ­ Buchla and Associates John Chowning ­ CCRMA at Stanford University Roger Linn ­ Roger Linn Design Max Mathews ­ CCRMA at Stanford University Tom Oberheim ­ Marion Systems Dave Rossum ­ E-mu Systems Inc Dave Smith ­ Dave Smith Instruments.
University of BC: Don Buchla is the keynote speaker.
2011 highlights included performances in Mexico City with Don Buchla, plus Paul Dresher/Joel Davel duo gigs at the Berkeley Art Museum and locally.

Buchla Lightning II [cached]

Buchla & Associates / Donald Buchla

Buchla 200e Electric Music Box [cached]

Buchla & Associates / Donald Buchla

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