The Buchla Music Easel is an iconic piece of synthesizer history. Developed by additive synthesis pioneer Don Buchla as a means to have the rich, fat tone of a Buchla system in a more convenient, performance friendly package.
Don Buchla was responsible for some of the most iconic instruments ever made, none more iconic than the Buchla Music Easel, a complex Additive Analogue Synthesizer, that allows the sonic possibilities of Buchlas modular systems, but in a very small, compact briefcase equipped package.
The Easel synthesizer, also know as the 208 Stored Program Source is a unique synth. Originally released in 1973 it provides an incredible array of sound design and synthesis possibilities. Designed primarily as a performance instrument, the Music Easel is easy to setup, transport and thanks to the innovative expansion port you can even create presets and expand the voice architecture with the AUX Card (available separately).
The workflow is extremely simple, yet the synth is highly configurable thanks to its semi-modular architecture. The front panel is made up of 22 sliders and a variety of knobs for controlling a base synthesis tone, moving the sliders adds movement or modulation to the simple tone, depending on what the control is. Anything from simplistic bleeps, to extremely complex texture and tones can be generated with this system, it provokes exploration and allows you to cross more sonic ground than more simplistic subtractive synthesizers.
Part of the Easels iconography is the metal touch plate keyboard, called the 218 touch controller. Unlike traditional keyboards, the 218 can detect both pressure (velocity), position (in the vertical axis) and also pitch (in the horizontal axis), the velocity and position information, can be translated into voltages and can be used to manipulate the sound in very interesting and inspiring ways. Another feature of the 218 keyboard is its four touchpad’s, which can be used as four different instantaneous stored voltages for firing off set modulation to any destination you desire.
The synth comprises of two oscillators, set up in the traditional Buchla fashion ala the 261 or 259, where one oscillator produces the fundamental tone, and the second (modulation oscillator) is used to control the timbre and tonal changes for the fundamental, making anything from metallic brash FM, to deep complex bass sounds.
The Easel forgoes the standard VCF design and opts for a low pass gate, for more plucky organic sounds. The latest reissue of this incredible masterpiece is built using the same circuits, layout interface and design from the original run. Even the spring reverb!
The Easel is the jewel in the crown of the West Coast sound, it’s iconic and unlike anything else you’ve heard.
The main features of the Buchla Music Easel Include:
West coast additive suitcase synthesizer
Comprises of a 208 and 218
Auxiliary expansion input for AUX Card, iProgram Card, Preset Card and Card Doubler
5 stage voltage sequencer
Complex west coast oscillator setup
Includes a selection of banana patch cables
Semi modular architecture
Onboard Spring Reverb
Onboard MIDI I/O