The Buchla Music Easel was one of the first truly portable electronic music instruments.
Fifty years ago, in 1973, only a few dozen were made. Unlike many iconic technologies, the influence was not grown through force of scale, but rather the force of the ideas. The Music Easel made available virtually every musical dimension: timbre, melody, rhythm, and time; how these dimensions intersected was no longer the court of acoustics and material, but signals and voltage. The 208 Stored Program Sound Source engendered “a new functional organization [with a] particularly rapid system of patching and program storage via plug-in cards."
Taking cues from the then-recent discipline of cybernetics, the 218 touch plate was for “real-time communication” to help realize the “potential vocabulary” of the Easel, rather than exploiting existing modes of musical virtuosity. The Stored Program Cards ensured rapid repeatability and repertoire on its own terms. The battery terminals made sure the music was as portable as any acoustic instrument. And the name let you know it was designed for art rather than science.
Buchla is ecstatic to revive the Music Easel for its third run in 50 years. Buchla first released the updated 208 Stored Program Sound Source, dubbed the Easel Command, with expanded MIDI and USB capability. Next came the update of the Easel Program Manager – a complete kit for storing and recalling sounds sources, even more rapidly than imagined in 1973. Our new 218 Touch Activated Voltage Source provides the optimal input facility, as originally envisioned. We can now bring it all together in a rugged case and the advanced EMBIO module that unifies all the audio and control inputs and outputs for integration with the rest of your musical world.
More than a retro novelty, the Music Easel still speaks to a future we strive for. A technology that invites conversation, not chats, and controls that engage expression, not work. There are many new worlds to explore in this instrument created at the crossroads of the jazz and computer ages. Designed as “an integrated assemblage of functions“, rather than a collection of modules, the Music Easel’s color coding, comfortable access to controls, and solid patch connections allow for satisfying sessions of sonic discovery.
The Music Easel Retro follows the design queues of the 50th Anniversary Easel, housed in a retro styled briefcase, vintage style Rogan knobs and left hand input / output control cluster.
The Retro Easel features the 208C module and the new 218E controller keyboard and, includes all of the USB MIDI capabilities these two modules provide.
It has the retro appeal of the Anniversary Easel into a more affordable package that can be built in higher numbers! One for the vintage Buchla enthusiast.
- Retro Easel styling, housed in a rugged, portable aluminium briefcase case
- Ships with the new power & MIDI control cluster
- Vintage style Rogan knobs
- Includes a selection of Banana Cables & shorting bars