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“He was a genius and an adventurer”

Don Buchla, the pioneering inventor widely accepted to be the first person to develop a working modular synth, has died at the age of 79. His son, Ezra, has confirmed that he died from complications following his battle with cancer.

Buchla’s influence on the electronic music scene has been vast since the 60s, when Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender commissioned him to make what would become the Buchla Series 100 synthesizer.

He continued to develop new modular synths in the Buchla series into the 80s, before moving into working on MIDI controllers in the 00s. He returned to modular synths in 2005 with the 200e.

His synthesizers were used by a variety of people, including modular innovators like Suzanne Ciani and Laurie Spiegel, as well as modern artists including Donnacha Costello and Alessandro Cortini. Buchla was also famed for designing the sound system for rock band The Grateful Dead.

“He invented a whole new paradigm for how you interface with electronics – much more human, and a whole new thing,” Buchla’s close friend Morton Subotnick told The Guardian.

His friend, musician Bob Ostertag, added, “He was a genius and an adventurer – an adventurer in the real sense of the word. Almost everything he made was unprecedented.”

A number of artists including Maceo Plex, The Bug and Floating Points have shared their condolences for Buchla’s death on social media. You can see a selection of those posts below.