Buchla Music Easel 50th Anniversary Edition

Semi-modular Synthesizer

CAP2: 0 £9,999.00
£8,332.50 ex VAT
in stock

Strictly limited edition in celebration of the legendary model of 1973. Encased in a refined powder blue aluminium housing, it boasts captivating gold keys on the 218 touch surface, complemented by Rogan knobs and an array of delightful surprises.

At a glance

  • 50th Anniversary Collector Edition inspired by the original 1973 model.
  • Housed in a refined powder blue Halliburton case 
  • Gold keys on the 218 touch surface.
  • Includes the 208C sound source module with its complex oscillator, modulation oscillator, noise generator, and five-stage sequencer for intricate sound design.
  • The dual low-pass gate provides dynamic control over tone and amplitude, with modulation sources adding movement and complexity.

The Buchla Music Easel 50th Anniversary is strictly a limited edition recreation celebrating the original model of 1973 designed by Don Buchla. Encased in a refined powder blue Haliburton aluminium housing, it boasts captivating gold keys on the 218-touch surface, complemented by Rogan knobs and an array of delightful surprises. 

The Buchla Music Easel emerged as one of the pioneering portable electronic music instruments. Fifty years ago, in 1973, only a few dozen were crafted. Unlike many other iconic technologies, its influence did not arise from sheer scale but rather from the power of its ideas. The Music Easel unlocked a vast realm of musical dimensions, encompassing timbre, melody, rhythm, and time. The intersection of these dimensions no longer relied solely on acoustics and material but instead on the language of signals and voltage. The groundbreaking 208 Stored Program Sound Source fostered "a new functional organisation [with a] particularly rapid system of patching and program storage via plug-in cards."

The 218 touch plate was designed for "real-time communication," enabling the realisation of the Easel's immense musical potential, going beyond existing modes of musical virtuosity. The Stored Program Cards ensured swift repeatability and a diverse repertoire on its terms. Including a battery and terminals, which ensured the music could be as portable as any acoustic instrument. Furthermore, the name reflected its artistic essence, emphasising its connection to the world of art rather than science.

More than a mere retro novelty, the Music Easel continues to resonate with the future we aspire to create. It represents a technology that fosters meaningful conversations rather than superficial chats and controls that inspire expressive artistry rather than mundane work. Within this instrument, forged at the intersection of jazz and computer ages, lie numerous uncharted musical frontiers waiting to be explored. Designed as an integrated assemblage of functions rather than a mere collection of modules, the Music Easel's thoughtful colour coding, ergonomic control access, and robust patch connections facilitate immersive sessions of sonic discovery.

At the heart of the Music Easel resides the extraordinary 208C sound source, housing a complex oscillator, a modulation oscillator (which can also serve as an additional voice), each with independently switchable waveforms, and a noise generator. These elements combine to offer a rich and intricate sound design capability. The 208C also features a versatile five-stage sequencer, an envelope generator, a pulser, and a modulation source with switchable triggers, enabling the creation of complex patterns and evolving textures. The dual low-pass gate ensures dynamic control over tone and amplitude, delivering natural-sounding decay and sustain. Moreover, the 208C incorporates several modulation sources, including a random voltage generator, an envelope generator, a modulation oscillator, and an envelope detector. These sources can modulate various parameters via the extensive patch field, resulting in captivating movement, texture, and complexity. The 208C includes a mixer section with spring reverb to add sonic versatility.

The Buchla Music Easel's initial design debuted in the 1973 release, drawing its name from the spacecraft that transported astronauts to the moon. While providing a familiar piano key layout for this early mobile music machine, it also introduced additional controls and capabilities that served as an interface for exploring uncharted musical territories. With the new version 3, the Music Easel has been elevated with a new foundation of stable, modern electronics boasting incredible sensitivity and accuracy. Even the gentlest touch triggers precise control voltages, thanks to the adjustable sensor's remarkable dynamic range and durability, which is capable of withstanding the most expressive playing styles. The enhanced texture improves sensing capabilities and delivers a deeply satisfying tactile experience. As always, pressure is an expressive output, adding an extra dimension to your musical expression. MIDI functionality provides velocity, polyphony, and channel pressure outputs, making the 218e an exceptionally expressive controller. The 218e encompasses portamento and an arpeggiator, which can be driven by external inputs and seamlessly interact with automated notes, creating intricate patterns. Additional controls allow effortless blending of patterns and randomness, enabling smooth transitions from the expected to the pleasantly surprising. The classic preset voltage knobs offer multiple avenues to explore new sonic territories. These knobs provide rapid access to voltages for your patches and can also control arpeggiation modes and octave shifting. Pads offer pulse outputs for further control possibilities.

Moreover, the 218e offers a unique interface for playing your existing MIDI gear and software synthesisers. Each touch output supplies note name, channel pressure, and velocity for every note, along with a sustain control via a pedal. In polyphonic MIDI mode, you can effortlessly play chords. The touch strip can function as a pitch bend control or mod wheel, allowing for additional expressive control. Easily configurable using the intuitive front panel controls, you have the flexibility to send notes and controls on any MIDI channel.

What's included

  • Vintage Easel styling comes in a real Halliburton suitcase
  • Limited run gold 218E controller keyboard
  • Vintage-style Rogan knobs
  • True to era output VU & leather trims
  • Limited Edition Easel Weasel silkscreen print (24" x 15") signed and numbered by the original artist Jim Phillips
  • 12" LP of Electric Weasel Ensemble from Important Records in a unique vinyl colour
  • Hardcover Edition of Allen Strange's "Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques, and Controls"
  • Collector's book includes a reprint of the original 1974 "Easel Operating Directive" manual by Allen Strange and writings by original Electric Weasel Ensemble-member Stephen Ruppenthal and others.
  • Special edition artist-designed Retro Preset cards featuring new, unique graphics, are available from artists including Todd Barton, Suzanne Ciani, and others.
  • Program Manager loaded with presets as described in the original 1974 Easel Directive.

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