Physical modeling synthesis

I freely admit that I’m so far behind the curve on electronic music that the road looks straight to me. Logic? Max/MSP? I don’t know what you people are talking about.

My experience with the wires and dials was forever tainted by my first experience, in a closet at my high school that happened to have an old ARP 2600. That thing was fun—hands on, unpredictable, and everything that came out was worthy of Forbidden Planet. Once I got to college, though, everything had gone digital; I found that I missed the patch cords and the touchy sliders, and I lost interest.

These days, of course, analog synthesizers are retro cool, or whatever the current term for “retro cool” is. (In honor of Phil, maybe it should be “cop pension show.”) I once looked into configuring my computer to run emulators of all the old machines, but it involved a lot more software than I was interested in buying, and again—no patch cords. And I certainly don’t have the money to pick up the real thing (EBay has an ARP 2600 for auction at the moment that’s already way out of my price range, and the reserve hasn’t even been met).

So until those commissions start rolling in faster than I can turn them down, I’ll just have to resign myself to building my dream studio on paper. Literally.

Astro Boy there has himself a fine “Moog Modular V” (no such beast actually ever existed, but it looks pretty cool) courtesy of this PDF download. (He’s joined by special guest DJ Monkey on turntables.) In the meantime, I’m debating whether to plunk down a few euros for some more elaborate paper synth kits from this place. I may have to: one of the models is, you guessed it, a cardboard ARP 2600.

(Luddite? Build yourself an ocarina.)


  1. Matt,Here are some links to free software for you to play with: plenty of other stuff. the first two don’t have much of a learning curve, and the others do. I’m sure there are free hardware emulators out there, also.You could post a question about where to find free hardware emulators someplace like this: people would probably be happy to point you in the right direction. None of them run on cardboard box… but hey, you figured out how to run a blog. How much of a luddite could you be?best wishes,steven rice

  2. and you could just get a midi controller with sliders or whatever, and hook it up to your machine for fractions of that ebay price!

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