All the way back in 1972, Tony Furse managed to get funding to build a polyphonic digital/analog synth. That was the Qasar.
He built precisely two prototypes–the finished machine would have been far too costly for the era, so no investors came forward. Tony persisted, though, and developed it into a primitive sampling machine with dual 6800 microprocessors (brand-new on the market) in 1978. That machine, the Qasar M8, eventually was commercialized as the Fairlight CMI. (More history here.)
And here’s your first deviant synth for the new year:
a horribly-mangled Atari 400……
This guy took an ancient (1980 or so) paper-tape reader from a Heathkit computer and rewired it so it would control a simple oscillator bank made with 555 timer chips. Then he made punched tapes for it, by writing a QBASIC program. I’m afraid to ask how long it took him.
Courtesy of Make magazine: a MeeBlip synth, built into a vintage cookbook.
It isn’t quite a synth, but I reckon it is as good as the other “steam powered synth” out there.
Sorry about the background noise. Video is here:
Ken (from cgs synth)
Nick Collier has made a Flash animated version of his “Beast” synthesizer.
Try it–all you can make is glorious anarchy.
May I introduce, Hugh LeCaine.
First, watch this awesome video on the legendary Electronic Sackbut :
(sorry don’t know how to embed video here…)
As I troll around for Hammond Solavoxes and Novachords for my own projects, I must state here that THE ELECTRONIC SACKBUT WAS THE FIRST VOLTAGE CONTROLLED SYNTHESIZER, not some univox organ a dude is selling on ebay, despite what the ebay page claims. Although the novachord, clavioline, ondioline, trautonium, are all beautiful, LeCaine made a synthesizer with voltage control of things like filters, VCAs and pitch before 1950!!!
This technical touch of voltage control allowed the integration of all sorts of nuanced control of the instrument without the need to discretely switch components in the circuit or contrive complicated mechanical variable capacitors and inductors (as used on some other instruments of the time ie, martenot’s string).
Gotta love the look, too.
Visit http://www.hughlecaine.com/en/ to see the many more interesting and trippy sound machines invented by this nuclear physicist.
Like the “Spectrogram”, which often controlled the “Oscillator Bank”. Here’s a picture of a spectrogram tape that LeCaine used to synthesize bird chirps:
And, yes, this was all done with tubes – what would you use in 1945?
He apparently pulled the voice board out of a perfectly good Moog Voyager,
installed it in a Modularworld case, and wired it up like a modular.
Am I missing something here?
well I stole this from Synthtopia but this site is overdue for a newpost
The work of Moritz Wolpert. More here.
First, Russian DIYer Dmitry Morozov, better known as vtol, has a website full of his colorful instruments. Nice panel art! He apparently makes limited issues of some of them for sale.
Then, Flickr user “jugger-naut” built a tube synthesizer in plug-in module form.
His main site for custom work is here. His cabinetwork is so beautiful, it will make you cry. Be warned, you will be exploring every link there. He has schematics of almost everything he’s built — clever designs, easy to reproduce.