RIP Don Buchla (1937-2016)

Don Buchla, creator of the Modular Electronic Music System, the Electric Music Box and the Music Easel, among other synthesizers, died on September 14 at the age of 79. Buchla was also the designer of the sound system used on Ken Kesey‘s bus “Further.”

Buchla was a West Coast engineer who became associated with the innovative San Francisco Tape Music Center in the early 1960s. Trained as a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, Buchla worked on particle accelerators at the Lawrence National Laboratory. But he was also interested in electronic music, initially musique concrete, which he created with a one-track Wollensack tape recorder. After having attended concerts at the center he met founders Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender, who were looking for an engineer to build an electronic “music easel” to replace tape as a medium for creating electronic sounds. Working with Subotnick and Sender, Buchla came up with a modular, voltage-controlled system that used touch pads rather than a keyboard. (Sender, trained as a pianist, had wanted a keyboard, but Subotnick argued in favor of the less conventional touch interface, which Buchla favored as well.) The system was finished in late 1964, predating Robert Moog’s synthesizer by a few months.

The Buchla was used to create classic electronic works by Subotnick, Sender and fellow SFTMC member Pauline Oliveros. Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon, released by Nonesuch Records in 1967, was performed on a Buchla commissioned by New York University, where Subotnick had a residency after having moved from the West Coast in 1966. Subotnick’s classic electroacoustic work The Double Life of Amphibians, composed in the early 1980s, generated scores on tape (and later computer) by using a system of “ghost electronics” designed by Buchla to Subotnick’s specifications. The live electronics used to perform the piece were Buchla synthesizers. (The Double Life of Amphibians has been newly reissued on the Wergo label and will be reviewed here on Monday.)

Synthtopia has an obituary.

Chicago Scene: September 17-24, 2016

English: Matana Roberts, moers festival 2010

This is a weekly overview live avant performances in the Chicago area.  Contact us if you’d like your shows listed.

Saturday, September 17th 2016

8:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
Before I Wake: Interactive Ritual Theater
Viktor le with special guests Renée Baker and the Chicago Modern Orchestra project, Adam Zanolini, Xris Copal and friends

Sunday, September 18th 2016

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15-$10)
Dal Niente Debuts
Ensemble Dal Niente : Minghuan Xu, Winston Choi, Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Ben Melsky, Ammie Brod, Chris Wild — music by Christopher Wendell Jones, Alex Mincek, Sam Pluta, Julio Zúñiga

Monday, September 19th 2016

7:00PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069
‘Mira Pascal’, Hamid Drake

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15-$10)
Fendika : Melaku Belay, Zinash Tsegaye, Mesay Abebaye, Fassika Hailu, Gizachew Teklemariam, Nardos Tesfaw
Fendika with Joshua Abrams, Tim Daisy, Ben LaMar Gay, Macie Stewart, Mars Williams

9:00PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444 (wheelchair-accessible)
Extraordinary Popular Delusions : Jim Baker, Mars Williams, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt

Wednesday, September 21st 2016

8:30PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444 (wheelchair-accessible)
Splice Series
Tim Daisy, Albert Wildeman, Peter Maunu

Friday, September 23rd 2016
8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($10)
Secret Keeper : Mary Halvorson, Stephan Crump

Saturday, September 24th 2016

2016 Hyde Park Jazz Festival
Matana Roberts Solo
5:15PM-10:30PM at the Logan Center Performance Hall, 915 E 60th, 773.702.ARTS

2016 Hyde Park Jazz Festival
5:15PM-6:15PM Amir ElSaffar Two Rivers Ensemble
7:15PM-8:15PM Miguel Zenon and the Spektral Quartet — “Yo Soy La Tradición”
9:30PM-10:30PM Supreme Love
6:00PM-7:00PM at the Logan Center Performance Penthouse, 915 E 60th, 773.702.ARTS

2016 Hyde Park Jazz Festival
Matana Roberts Solo
7:15PM-10:30PM at the International House, 1414 E 59th

2016 Hyde Park Jazz Festival
7:15PM-8:15PM Ba(SH)
9:30PM-10:30PM Joshua Abrams, Ari Brown, Gerald Cleaver, Jeff Parker Quartet

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15-$10)
Pamela Z

For more information, such as directions, as well as upcoming performances, see:,,,,,,,,,,,

Richard Pinhas on Tour in France, U.S., and Japan

Source: Cuneiform Records.

with Yoshida Tatsuya and guests
September 16-18 – Rock In Opposition Festival – Carmaux, France [with Arthur Narcy – drums]
September 19 – I-Boat – Bordeux, France [with Yoshida Tatsuya]
September 22 – Le Triton – 11 bis, rue du Coq Francais – Les Lilas 93260 – France [with Yoshida Tatsuya]
October 1 – Maroquinerie – Paris, France [with Pascal Comelade]

USA tour with special guest touring mates, Wume! [Wume not on dates marked ***]
October 3 – Park Church Co op – 129 Russell St – Brooklyn, NY ***
October 4 – Trans Pecos – NY, NY
October 5 – Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA
October 7 – Marble Bar – Detroit, MI
October 8 – Elastic Arts – Chicago, IL
October 10 – American Legion – Nashville, TN
October 11 – Mothlight – Asheville, NC
October 12 – Nitelite – Raleigh, NC
October 13 – Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
October 14 – Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD
October 15 – Comet Ping-Pong – Washington, DC
October 20 – Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center – 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd – New Orleans, LA (504) 352-1150 ***
October 21 – 14 Pews – 800 Aurora St – Houston, TX (281) 888-9677 ***
October 22 – Farewell Books – 913 East Cesar Chavez St – Austin, TX (512) 473-2665 ***

Japan tour with Tatsuya Yoshida on all dates plus listed guests
November 2 – Koenji High – Tokyo, Japan [with Kaijii Haino & Merzbow]
November 3- Syuyukan – Ohmi-Hachiman, Japan
November 4 – Club Metro – Kyoto, Japan [with Seiichi Yamamoto]
November 5 – Helluva Lounge – Kobe, Japan
November 7 – Conpass – Osaka, Japan [with Vampillia]
November 8 – Tokuzo – Nagoya, Japan [with Ryoko Ono]
November 9 – Kerchherr – Mamamatsu, Japan [with Up-Tight]
November 10 – tbc – Sogen – Shizuoka, Japan
November 11 – Sakuraza Cafe – Kofu, Japan
November 13 – Showboat – Koenji, Japan

New York String Quartets Upcoming Seasons

Source: The New York Times.

Two string quartets have defined New York’s new-music scene over the past decade. The JACK Quartet has made a specialty of nail-bitingly difficult works, including an hourlong piece played in complete darkness and a recent performance in which they labored with rubber restraints and elements of sensory deprivation. But even their straight-up renderings of thorny classics of the European avant-garde are as compulsively watchable as an episode of “American Ninja Warrior.”

On the other side of the East River, meanwhile, the members of Brooklyn Rider have built a diverse following on their blend of musical globe-trotting — drawing on their experience with the Silk Road Ensemble — and an approach that’s equally rigorous with newly commissioned music or Debussy.

S.E.M. Ensemble to Perform Lucier, Kotik in October

Source: S.E.M. Ensemble.

THE S.E.M. Ensemble performs at Paula Cooper Gallery (NYC)
in conjunction with Sol LeWitt’s celebration
Tuesday, October 11 at 8 p.m.

In conjunction with Paula Cooper Gallery’s major exhibition of Sol LeWitt, the S.E.M. Ensemble will perform an evening of compositions by Alvin Lucier and Petr Kotik. The concert will take place within the Gallery’s main space, where LeWitt’s large-scale wall drawings, with their vigorous broad strikes, are currently exhibited.


S.E.M. Ensemble
Petr Kotik, Director
Matilda Sakamoto & Dancers

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 8pm
Paula Cooper Gallery, NYC

S.E.M. Ensemble
Lucy Dhegrae, Soprano
Jake Ingbar, Baritone
Adrian Rosas, Bass
Debra Kay Anderson, Narrator
Conrad Harris, Violine
Pauline Harris Kim, Violine
Liuh-Wen Ting, Viola
Caleb van der Swaagh, Violoncello
John Altieri, Tuba
Petr Kotik, Conductor

Petr Kotik: William William (2016) – American premiere
Dance opera
Libretto by Petr Kotik; Choreography by Matilda Sakamoto

Alvin Lucier: Navigations for Strings (1991)
String Quartet

Alvin Lucier: Love Song (2016) – World premiere
Violin duet