Going Deeep with Modular Synths at SBCAST

Deeep Modular Showcases Resurging Electronic Music Technology

David Muir

Get ready to go deep with modular synths — Deeep deep. On Saturday, October 15, at the Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology (SBCAST), Deeepevents presents Deeep Modular, an exploratory experience where guests can play with analogue synthesizers and hear the amazing sounds they are capable of producing in the hands of renowned electronic music artists. Through the magic of patch cords and switchboards, you can bend sound waves and delight minds with a chance at hands-on exploration of a variety of gear in SBCAST’s inventive atmosphere of collaborative artistic residence. Expect high-end, one-of-kind boutique synths, like $14,000 tubular synths paired up with inexpensive models perfect for homegrown explorations, where fine wines and beers are served in a blow-up Irish pub.

Guiding you in the immersive exploration will be several performers: synthesists David Muir, Skyler “Kittyspit” King, and OSC1Nation, each of whom will contribute a set of synthesized music. They will join UCSB master’s degree graduates in sound design and VST programming, who will perform while using video-projection 3D topography similar to Oculus Rift.

What’s more, some of the most important inventors and names in the electronic music world will be there. The evening’s speaker of note is Tom Oberheim, one of the developers of MIDI and founder of Oberheim Electronics. He will talk about modular synthesis as well as sign autographs for those who admire his contributions to the fields of video game music and pop music alike — you may have heard his synths on songs by Van Halen and Pet Shop Boys, among many others.

Also in attendance will be two UCSB luminaries of the electronic music world: Dr. Curtis Roads, famed for inventing the kind of granular synthesis programs used by some of the biggest names in electronic music, like Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Venetian Snares; and Dr. Clarence Barlow, the highly regarded avant and classical music composer known for his electroacoustic harmonic explorations. Also there will be Sean Cleary, the cofounder of Analogue Haven, the L.A.-based vintage electronic music shop and distributor that helped introduce the Eurorack style of analogue synthesis to America.

For the unfamiliar, modular synths are a kind of electronic instrument that operate not unlike an old switchboard: Sounds are patched via cables through oscillators and filter circuits, creating completely customizable tones through the physical alteration of the waveform. They are the first of their kind, a predecessor to today’s digital instruments, and can appear as intimidatingly technological as the first computers did, those massive room-sized beasts. The event will help demystify the modular setup, which is, like vinyl, enjoying a resurgence among the touch-screen set.

Event organizer and SBCAST’s David Muir has cultivated “a great experience with great performers, intellectual learning, fine food, and wine,” with plenty of libations to help you enjoy and absorb the vibrations. Muir hopes to showcase the versatility and variety of modular synths. “You can create amazing sounds from Hollywood to video games to just someone just tinkering in their house,” he said. In addition, he hopes to contribute to the ongoing embrace of synthesizers across the gender spectrum, with the formerly massively masculine modular realm now undergoing its own transformations toward a more inclusive musical landscape.

After the event, head on over to Eos for a continuation of the modular vibes, where DJ David Muir and DJ Trey Courtney will spin deep-house tunes into the night.


Deeep Modular will take place Saturday, October 15, 5:30 p.m., at SBCAST (513 Garden St.). For more information, visit tinyurl.com/modularsb.


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