In an incredible announcement, Buchla USA have said they will be bringing back the landmark San Francisco Tape Music Centre 100 Series in its original form and format.
Built in 1964, the 100 Series was one of the first modular synthesizers ever built, alongside early Moogs, and helped revolutionise the way that electronic music was made.
Buchla USA have announced they are bringing back the historic San Francisco Tape Music Centre 100 Series, with the help of its original creators.
Working on the restoration will be original San Francisco Tape Music Centre (SFTMC) founders Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender, as well as Buchla Instrument expert and artist consultant Todd Barton.
Established in 1962, the SFTMC was a cultural and educational corporation whose aim was to create a place to learn about using the tape music medium. One of the founders was composer Morton Subotnick, who in 1963 put an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle for an engineer to help build him an instrument.
In a recent video posted by Buchla USA, Subotnick himself is interviewed about the origins of the 100 Series. He mentions that Don Buchla came to the SFTMC and said that he was an engineer. Subotnick proceeded to describe to him a vision he had of an instrument to be used by a “studio artist” to create their own sounds:
“The metaphor I had was,” Subotnick describes, “There would be a kind of composer in the future, that would be like a painter, that could work directly in the studio and make things…eventually going off with a duplication of it onto vinyl.“
When Subotnick asked Buchla how much he would need to make it, he says that Buchla “never added or subtracted, he just looked up at the sky.” Subotnick never knew if it was a guess or whether it was real, but Buchla told him he needed 500 dollars.
At this time it was 1963, and 500 dollars was difficult to come by. It took them a year and a half, but eventually, they raised the money, and more. Thus, the 100 Series was born.
The final product was an instrument that consisted of up to 25 modules arranged in a wooden case. Using these modules, the composer could affect pitch, timbre, amplitude, and spatial location of the sound. These functions – envelope generators, oscillators, filters, voltage-controlled amplifiers, and analog sequencer modules – formed the foundations of modern synthesis.
The funny thing was, Subotnick eventually found out that the day Buchla arrived at the SFTMC, he hadn’t been responding to the ad that Subotnick had posted – he had only come to borrow a tape recorder. Subotnick’s not sure if Buchla ever got the tape recorder. History can be a serendipitous thing.
Buchla USA has said the remake of the Series 100 will be available in its original form, as well as DIY kits. Details on pricing and delivery are still to be announced.
Check out the video from Buchla below: