Buchla Master Class With Suzanne Ciani

This video, from this year’s Red Bull Music Academy, features pioneering synthesist Suzanne Ciani giving a master class on the Buchla modular synthesizer and her live performance rig.

Video Summary:

Created in the early 1960s by Don Buchla, the Buchla synthesizer revolutionized electronic music through its innovative design and endlessly variable modular system, encouraging new methods of creation and performance. Few artists pursued the emotional and sonic possibilities as comprehensively as Suzanne Ciani, an early disciple of Buchla and an undeniable master of the machine who first got her start composing music for advertisements before redefining herself as a Grammy-nominated new age artist. In Ciani’s hands, what can often look like an impenetrable tangle of wires becomes an instrument of beauty, capable of producing truly far-out sounds.

In this impressive display of expert knowledge, filmed at the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy in Montréal, the synthesizer pioneer takes us inside the Buchla in all its complex glory.

Ciani is also featured in an earlier RBMA video, in which she talks synthesis and playing tennis with Don Buchla.

8 thoughts on “Buchla Master Class With Suzanne Ciani

  1. I could be completely wrong, but I feel when it comes to modular synths nobody really knows what sound they are going to get , especially when working with a Buchla. On a second note, I found this video to be a little boring and musically uninspiring. If you have a super expensive Buchla with a sequencer and make strange sounds with it does that make you an avante garde musician?

    1. If you’ve played a buchla, you know exactly what sounds you’re going to get. Introducing randomness and chaos is one of the techniques you use to help change it up. It’s worth finding a space that has one you can use. Synth libraries/clubs are popping up all over.

  2. dude, it’s a lecture, not a show. the purpose isn’t to entertain, it’s to inform. the video is even called “studio science.”

    As an instructor, I never show my best work while I’m teaching. That’s not the point.

    I also disagree with your statement that “no one really knows what sound they are going to get.” That’s such a broad statement, anyway. If you plug a Braids into a Three Sisters and then into a 4MS dual looping delay, I would hope you would be able to predict what sound you are going to get.

    On the other hand, there are modules that are inherently chaotic, and that is the beauty of them. The same could be said about a lot of non-modular synths, as well, so I don’t understand the point of the comment.

    I will contend that Buchla can be hard to tame, but I’ve seen some really good live shows that involved a Buchla, and the performer certainly had control of the instrument.

    Do you not know who Suzanne Ciani is? If you did, I would be surprised you would be questioning her innovation.

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