Benge and His Buchla 700 Synthesizer

I was on Benge’s blog- It’s Full of Stars and saw this great little video of a Buchla 700.  A synthesizer which I didn’t even know existed.  Enjoy!

Benge is no stranger on this blog either and you can find more content here.  For more on Benge & his Buchla go here.

An excerpt of the Buchla 700. For more visit Buchla here.

A direct descendent in a prestigious line of electronic musical instruments, the Buchla 700 continues a tradition of combining inventive musical.and instrumental concepts with state-of-the-art electronics technology.

THE 700’S ARCHITECTURE includes four dedicated computers, each of a different nature, and each optimized to its particular function. The nerve center of the instrument is a general purpose digital computer. Responsible for user communication, data processing, and supervisory control, this “host” computer can be programmed to accommodate varied musical needs.

A second computer “massages” incoming data. It directs conversion of analog voltages into digital form, discards redundant information, and transmits essential data to the host computer.

Receiving instructions and data from the host, a third computer (called the multiple arbitrary function generator) directs the instantaneous progress of 190 acoustic variables, each with a time resolution of 1/2000 of a second. This facility enables specification of complex sonic detail and extends the possibilities for expressive control.

A fourth computer, essentially a pipelined digital signal processor (DSP), is responsible for producing the 700’s twelve voices. Built into this computer are unusually powerful algorithms for sound generation, including frequency modulation, waveshape interpolation, and timbre modulation (unique to the Buchla, this technique significantly augments the electronic vocabulary.

Custom analog circuitry, with a dynamic range of 100 dB, is used for metering and control of dynamics. Specialized phasing and location circuitry provides unusual depth and imaging in the resultant acoustic field and enables independent location of each voice in stereo space.

Based on sealed membrane technology, the 700’s input structure provides a comprehensive interactive editing and mode selection facility. Position-sensitive transducers are used to implement conceptual potentiometers, flywheels, switches, ribbon controllers, and other gesture-sensitive paraphernalia. Light emitting diodes display the status of touch sensitive keys, and a super-twisted liquid crystal display indicates the functions and settings of touch sensitive controls.

Three MIDI ports comprise the 700’s primary performance inputs. Under software control, MIDI channels from any port(s) can be assigned to any of the 700’s voices, thus enabling simultaneous control from multiple MIDI devices (which might include keyboards, guitar controllers, drum machines, pitch followers, space wands or personal computers). Other inputs accept control voltages, pulses, foot pedals, and SMPTE time code. Two RS232 ports provide for communication with computers, modems, terminals, and printers. Control voltage and pulse outputs, three MIDI outputs, and special control signal outputs complete the 700’s comprehensive I/O facility.

In addition to the self-contained LCD display, the 700 can drive an external video monitor that conforms to the EGA standard. This high resolution, multi-color display, coupled with the 700’s extensive input structure and sophisticated high level music software, provides the instrument with an efficient interactive editing and performance environment. A built-in 3 1/2 inch disk drive is used to store data for subsequent retrieval or to facilitate software exchange with other users. Instrument definitions, tuning tables, waveshape tables, scores, and high level languages can all be stored on microdisks.

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