Buchla Music Easel

January Buchla Project: Day 2 – Complex Oscillator variation

Today’s exploration has me looking backwards instead of forwards. The Buchla Music Easel is essentially two modules perfectly paired for performances and everything you could need in an “all in one” suitcase synth. The 208 module being the “brains” and 218 module as the controller. That’s overly simplified but gives you the main idea. It was originally released in 1973 and reissued a few years ago, I have the newer model.

The new model was promised to be “as close as possible” to the original with some performance improvements, most notably in the 218 (keyboard) module which has 4 presets instead of the original 3, and better layout of CV jacks. The 208 module changes seemed entirely cosmetic to me until some troubleshooting today led me to learn that the original complex oscillator offered a spike tooth wave rather than the sawtooth option on the new model. This also seems to be an improvement as the spike was fairly shrill on it’s own, where as the sawtooth can be quite beautiful. I’ve looked at these panels many times and never noticed that before. So that’s what I learned today.

Original 1973

Modern BEMI reissue

January Buchla Project: Day 1


I decided that I’m going to spend January focusing on my Buchla Music Easel. I lusted after this for so long and when I finally got it I was neck deep in other things and didn’t spend the time with it I should have. Even now, 2 or so years later I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface and want to really get the feel for this instrument.

At Tara’s suggestion I’m going to try and post one thing a day about it, which means at the very least a month from now I’ll know 31 things about it, but ideally those will be things I’ve learned as well. Today I went back and watched Todd Barton‘s excellent MacProVideo series on the easel and I don’t know how I missed this before – with the slower ambient stuff I do I often use the full 10 second pulse CV from the pulser, but I somehow missed that the Envelope Generator could self cycle as well, giving the potential for a 30 second CV (10 attack, 10 sustain, 10 decay). This seems silly but I was really excited and my head started racing with all the things I might be able to do with that kind of CV time.

I’m posting this series on Instagram first, though I don’t think I’ll keep it there, so I’m cross posting here to my own blog as well for archival purposes. Hopefully this is interesting for some of you.