Synth Design With Tony Rolando Of Make Noise


The latest episode of the Synth Design Podcast features an interview with Tony Rolando of Make Noise, one of the most influential Eurorack synth designers.

Host Roey Tsemah talks with Rolando about his design process for creating new modules for Make Noise, what went into the creation of the new Strega synthesizer and dealing with people who hate your work.

Video Summary:

Synth Design With Tony Rolando Of Make Noise

Make Noise interfaces are like a riddle. They remind me of minimalistic art pieces from the early 20th century – inviting you to question geometric compositions of mysterious lines and shapes. These instruments purposefully do not give a straight answer but hint towards a direction one could take.

This is a deliberate design decision that aims to shape the way musicians use a Make Noise instrument.

The design invites a particular kind of composer – one that will dare to explore an untrodden path, in the search for exceptional sounds and performance along the way. The interface is like a guide, a map of sorts, that can be read in various ways.

The Strega, in particular, is interesting because of its unconventional signal path. This is not your traditional “voice”, to say the least. Placing the delay/reverb in the center of the circuit directly affects the interaction with the instrument and the kind of sounds that will come out of it.

In this conversation, we dive into the challenges of designing an instrument like the Strega – a synthesizer that was made in close collaboration with artist Alessandro Cortini.

13 thoughts on “Synth Design With Tony Rolando Of Make Noise

  1. “one of the most influential Eurorack synth designers“ echoed by

    a) “Make Noise interfaces are like a riddle ”


    b) “dealing with people who hate your work”.

    hahaha, no need to comment on this one, it literally speaks for it self.

    1. Maths is like the most popular module in Euro and you can’t watch a modular jam these days without seeing Make Noise modules.

      1. And Maths is not unrelated to a Serge DUSG. Plus it’s been out for quite a long time, so you’d expect it to be in a lot of systems. It doesn’t make these jams any less tedious………As he says, the interface works for some and not for all. This is a positive in a creative world

        1. Having now watched the podcast, I’ll comment that I’ve found giving most people options on how they want a design and interface to look/work they end up giving a version of what they’ve seen before. It’s a rare person who can either not be heavily influenced by what they’ve seen before or to be able to think entirely outside the box to move design forward. I’m glad make noise are still pursuing a different look and design.

    2. Sure, if you want to think make noise is just some UI choices (Which yes, has also been copied in various ways more than once). You’d be oblivious to think Make Noise isn’t crazy influential in the eurorack scene.

    3. You have this backwards.

      For Rolando’s UI approach to be influential, other designers would have to create unique UIs that reflect the approach of the module and its creator, instead of conforming to the standard laid out by Doepfer.

      Make Noise was one of the first Eurorack companies to demonstrate that you could be both ‘weird’ and very successful. Now you see idiosyncratic interfaces on tons of modules.

    4. To be the most influential you also had to be doing it early on before everybody else. Which Tony was. The credit for introducing euro as a format goes the Doepfer but the credit for making it as popular and mainstream as it is today goes to the early companies that adopted it and realised there was potential there: Make Noise, Intellijel, Harvestman, 4MS, ADDAC… there are more obviously but when I first got my first Doepfer rack in about 2010 these guys were already there. That is what makes them influential

  2. I really loved those hits with Dawn. Tie a Yellow Ribbon and Knock Three Times are solid gold classics. I had no idea he parlayed all that success into synth design too. Genius…

    1. My girlfriend: “That sounds like the kind of dumb joke you’d make.” Me: “I know, that’s why it’s funny!”

  3. i just got Strega, super cool instrument, but yeah, could they just call ‘Agitation’ what it is, a looping envelope. the ‘Activation’ is a volume knob, ‘Interference’ introduces feedback modulation, ‘Substances’ is the oscillator or external sources. i totally get the art and its very cool but creativity can still happen when things have normal names haha. oh well, i learned their little vocab and am having fun with it.

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