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Triadex "The Muse" pics and sound clips.
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author Triadex "The Muse" pics and sound clips.
Soy Sos
A friend of mine left this with me to mess with.
OK, so maybe not modular. But this thing sounds amazing through my system!
What the fuck is it? Look here:
It looks mostly discrete inside and has this crazy slider matrix thingy plus pretty blinky lights. It makes pretty blinky music.
If anyone is interested I can post some audio tomorrow.

The raw waveforms look like this:

those are fun. at one point there was a PC soft synth that did what that does. i wish there was an AU version...
Clips or it never happened. evil
Soy Sos
I'll put some clips together tomorrow. But pretty trippy, huh?
The tone on it's own is mad boring. It'd be interesting if I could get clock in or out of it.
Soy Sos
Here's a link to the triadex muse emulator page -

Windows only. It's a pretty good demontration of what the thing can do (and what it can't). It's a bit improved from the real thing as you can use different sounds with it.

You might be interested in the 2 add-on boxes that the triadex people came up with for the muse - there's a matching amplifier box, and a "light show" box. Look on matrixsynth for pictures and videos of these. (oh - I see sacha has provided a link to a video while i was typing this)
Soy Sos
Soy Sos
stupid phone keeps reposting!!
Noah Vail
The Triadex Muse was the subject of my November 2004 Vintage Synths/Gear column in Keyboard. It's no longer posted online, so I'll serve up the text here. Please forgive me if any links no longer function.

Vintage Gear
by Mark Vail

Triadex Muse
Stochastic melody composer

Photo caption
A Triadex Muse. Optionally available were a light organ and external speaker, both of which shared the same triangular cabinet with the Muse. With proprietary cables and adapters, multiple Muses could be interfaced to produce interactive, polyphonic music.

Vital Stats
Description: Computerized monophonic music synthesizer with user control of volume, tempo (eight steps from 54 to 1,662 bpm), coarse pitch (32Hz to 4.5kHz), fine pitch (±10% of fundamental frequency), intervals, and musical themes. Built-in 4" speaker.
Produced: Development began in 1970; production ran from 1971 to 1972.
Approximate number manufactured: 260.
Manufacturer: Triadex Incorporated, 1238 Chestnut St., Newton Upper Falls, MA (no longer doing business).
Insider information: The Muse was considered more a gadget than a musical instrument. Instead of being sold in music stores, it was carried by novelty shops and Tiffany & Co. An ad for it appeared in Playboy. . . . A transcript of a 1991 interview that Marvin Minsky did with Otto Laske can be read at . . . For a freeware Muse simulator for Windows, visit . . . The Psych-Tone, a Muse-like kit, was detailed in the February 1971 issue of Popular Electronics.
Original retail price: $249.
Current value: $1,000 to $1,500.

The advent of affordable logic circuits and microprocessors during the 1960s allowed musicians, programmers, and others to experiment with compositional techniques that had previously been extremely difficult or even impossible. One of the offshoots of such efforts was an intriguing little box called the Muse, which generates monophonic note sequences based on front-panel switch and slider settings. It was co-designed by Marvin Minsky and Edward Fredkin, both of the MIT Media Laboratory.

“Marvin Minsky is almost universally recognized as the father of artificial intelligence,” explains David Kean of the Audities Foundation. “One of the favorite areas for any psychological endeavor is music because it has a certain amount of stochastic logic to it. Researchers use heuristics to try to determine compositional form. There are all sorts of ideas about how to shape logic to make it emulate artistic expression and, since music is one of the few time-based art forms that has a serial output, it’s a very fertile area for psychologists and somebody such as Minsky, who’s interested in making machines think.

“The Muse box was born out of an idea about how to offer a user some potential music algorithms. You can’t use a Muse box to realize or compose a pre-determined piece because it won’t do that. But what you can do is program trends, which is a big deal in artificial intelligence. You program the Muse with a compositional or melodic trend and shape it with sliders, which are basically controllers of chaos.”

Three groups of four vertical sliders accompany a handful of switches on the Muse’s front panel. How does the Muse do its thing? A comprehensive explanation of its workings can be found in its 13-page manual, which cost an extra two bucks, but this copy from the February 1971 Popular Electronics provides some clues: “With 14 trillion note combinations, Muse has four switches for volume, tempo, pitch, and fine pitch, and eight slide switches. Four of the latter vary the interval and thus determine the notes, while the other four control the theme and variations of the melody. Triadex warns that it is possible to set up a composition that would take 30 years to play, which may be too long if you’re only interested in the coda.”

Considered as a synthesizer, the Muse voice isn’t very impressive. Then again, that wasn’t its purpose. Its musical output, however, can inspire compositional ideas. Electronic-music composer Laurie Spiegel, developer of the “intelligent instrument” Music Mouse application for Mac, Amiga, and Atari computers (, often turns to her Muse for ideas.

“The Muse was an interesting experiment,” sums up Kean. “It didn’t necessarily prove anything, but it was an exercise. Minsky and Fredkin decided that it was an interesting enough outcome that they should market it, so they did. It’s really funny because it was one of those odd moments where an instrument was built to satisfy a concept about some academic idea regarding artificial intelligence.

“The Muse is really cool and it’s amazing to hear. It isn’t something you play, though. You just turn it on, give it some guidelines, and let it go.”
Yes, interesting device, i've heard of them before but never seen the video.
Reminds me a lot of the noisering driving a sequencer.
I would like 1 in euro format, yes please.
Soy Sos
Thanks Noah!
That's better than any info I was able to come up with after a quick search. It is a pretty beautiful design and concept. The lines it produces can be really lovely and the enclosure is very slick looking. The lamest thing about it is the actual voice of the thing. I'll record some of it in a little while with the voice first raw and then crossfade in the treated voice I worked up. Like I said before, some way to sync to and from would be nice and a gate or trigger out for each note would make it easy to use VCA/LPG with envelopes on the voice. As it is, it just plays one long steady stream. Although at some settings it seems to make pauses. I don't own it, so modding it is not an option. There are some multi-pin jacks on the bottom that may offer some options. I should take some pics of the inside, it's very cool looking.
Soy Sos
mmm sounds like my noisering thats making sweetlove with the z8000
Soy Sos
New shit!
I had plans to duplicate the Muse functionality on the Arduino platform a couple years back, but ran outta time. It's surprisingly melodic!

The functionality of the shift registers is written out somewhere online and seems like it would be possible to set up in max if you didn't wanna mess with duplicating the hardware.
drewtoothpaste wrote:
I had plans to duplicate the Muse functionality on the Arduino platform a couple years back, but ran outta time. It's surprisingly melodic!

The functionality of the shift registers is written out somewhere online and seems like it would be possible to set up in max if you didn't wanna mess with duplicating the hardware.
if you ever dig this out please link it up. thumbs up
Soy Sos
I know it can all be done in hardware and software, but the box itself is so amazing and "mojo having". It's only on loan and I wouldn't go on a quest and pay crazy money for one, but I feel so lucky to have one to mess with for a while. My wife loved it and actually said that she hoped there was a way I could keep it! She's planning on using some of the recordings in her choreography work.
i had a bit of a thing for cloning the muse a while back, guess its on the backburner for a while.
anyway Hal Chamberlain's book had a section on the muse
the block diagram gives a lot of info -
Alright, I am abit closer to grokking this. Someone please talk me through that diagram. The 8 columns basically represent the slide switches, so you can set up the connections through there - the "parity generator", is that basically generating a single bit for the shift register?
Also, does anyone know the contents of the "Major scale translation logic"?
just guessing -
the parity generator counts how many 1s are coming in. for an 'odd' parity generator, if there are an even number of 1s in the signal, the parity generator will add an extra bit as a 1, if odd number, then a 0.

guess its a kind of randomness (in the sense that it would be fkn hard to know how many 1s are going in)

As for the major scale logic - hmmm.....
4 bits in and 5 bits out, nice one!

hope someone here can tell all
Soy Sos
Loving all the information and insight.
I thought some might enjoy these:

CZ Rider
Great pics! Always wondered what the Muse looked like inside.
First time I remember hearing one was on the UK album, the track Alaska where the CS-80 solo ends with the Muse starting up. Classic!
Found a link to the similar DIY project Psych-tone reprint of a Popular Electronics article.
Popular Electronics Psych-tone Feb 1971
Popular Electronics was my introduction to synthesizers as something you could actually build yourself. thumbs up
I prefer the Muse to the Psych-Tone. The later does give "some" control over the sound but none the less...
Dig deep in your pockets, there's one of these on the bay.
Just found a muse on the cover of Carly Ptak's "Prepare yourself" cdr.
Crazy because I looked at that cover so much ::smile))
i just got one of these in for repair. all the sliding switches are frozen, one broken off waah ... still, i'm gonna learn alot.
I had a MUSE for years, the prices for them go all over the map.

I spent a significant time trying to get a CV out from the multijack below it, but didn't have any documentation or clues about that jack. Seems it was mainly for the light show and spare speaker options. Too bad. The PsychTone is pretty cool/
I once checked all the jack pins with an oscilloscope, good source of gates & triggers (ins & outs), for syncing multiple Muses and the light show.
Can't remember any CV, I don't think these really worked like that. You could convert the varying gates to CV with an integrator.
I still wish I had one of these. Could never justify the asking price, though. waah
Here is a track I created with the Muse a while ago:


Lots of external processing.

I used it on two albums for some ethereal twinkly stuff, a bit like pitched sample-and-hold. The unit was also featured in German "Keyboards" magazine ("Love the machines") some years ago.

Shame I had already sold it when the curator of a Marianne Amacher exhibition in Germany got in touch with me and asked me to help them out with a Muse.

It´s definitely nice as a collector´s item, it oozes history but then again, I try not to be a collector. The albums are a bit in the vein of "Now you´re recorded / as having said it." (Coil)

a really wonderful instrument. thanks for posting
Soy Sos
Kaput wrote:
I still wish I had one of these. Could never justify the asking price, though. waah

It's cool and looks amazing,
but a bit of a 1 trick pony.
Soy Sos wrote:
Kaput wrote:
I still wish I had one of these. Could never justify the asking price, though. waah

It's cool and looks amazing,
but a bit of a 1 trick pony.

i agree, but i'm really curious about the sequences built into this thing. it would be really great to get a mac-friendly VST/AU of this thing and hook it up to the ole' modular.
That or the music mouse. Loved that program when I had it on my first iMac. But it seems too much for my computer skills to get it to work on a current Mac.
anybody have schematics or other service docs? i've got most of the mechanicals squared away (no small feat), and want to do some recapping but i'm not sure of a couple values... any help appreciated.
Soy Sos
Wow flux,
You're a brave man! On a side note, someone offered to make a breakout cable for me of the out and (ins?) that could possible be used with my Euro system and 2600. I can't find their message. Would you be able to do this?
PM me if so.
I talked to Eddie Jobson of UK about his MUSE once. He said he'd been visiting John Entwhistle of The Who. John was a big fan of synths but couldn't play, so he bought them and had friends like Eddie come over just to use them. At one point, Entwhistle just gave Eddie the MUSE.

So got it rack-mounted and he used it live for two songs with UK: I asked him if he had written down the pattern he used. He said it was only 1; one song used it at normal tempo, the other song used the same sequence at much slower tempo.

I am building a PsychTone into a 5U module now...
@fluxmonkey: Thanks for opening the Muse, I´ve always wondered what component parts were used for it. The sliders look susiciously like the type of sliders used with the ARP 2600...

the long slide switches are pretty crude: each slider has a small flexed copper pad on the bottom and rides in a guide, over the top of traces which it shorts together to make the various connections. the guide was broken so one slider was not tracking, and the whole thing was filthy. i think this is functionally sort of similar to the bus matrix switches on the ARP 2500, the the use and mechanical implementation is pretty different.

based on the writeup in Hal Chamberlain's book, most of the chips are cmos logic, but the labeling on them is not helpful, so i'm not expected to be able to do much reverse-engineering. just got back from the surplus store hoping to score a replacement for the missing switch paddle, no luck alas
Soy Sos
hey fluxmonkey,,
I sent you a note about a possible breakout cable to interface
with my Euro and 2600. Any idea on this?
Soy Sos wrote:
hey fluxmonkey,,
I sent you a note about a possible breakout cable to interface
with my Euro and 2600. Any idea on this?

seems like it would be possible, but not for me. go for it!
Soy Sos
Well. I was asking if I could pay you to make one.
I'm too DIY challenged. Could anyone else make one?
a friend found one of these at a garage sale, looks like it's been stored in non-climate controlled conditions so some work needs to be done. I'll try to post some more pics in here so there's a resource - info is kind of hard to come by on the web.

If anyone can point me to schematics that would be great - i can see low-res pictures of them on Matrixsynth, but they are frustratingly out of reach.

Soy Sos
Wow, zombie thread from SEVEN years ago.
I still have that guy's Muse at my studio.
Trying to get someone one from Pitt Mod to make me a cable.
If anyone has schems, docs on other info please let me know.
It'd be fun to have some greater connectivity in and out of the thing.
there is only one pcb in it ? i'd love to make one!
Got to see one of these at the philly synth meet I put together.

A lot of people said why hasn't someone clone it? and The owner made a great point, we'd have to figure out how it works first...

but seriously a super fun box!
southphillysynths wrote:
why hasn't someone cloned it?
...we'd have to figure out how it works first...

The Future Retro Zillion is inspired by the Triadex Muse.
Wow, crazy! Thanks for sharing.
One of my ex-college-roommates was Don Tillman (of the Tillman Trapezoid TZ osc; I didn't know he was working on the
same damn problem as I was with the FM Ogre, how's that for wierd! FORTY YEARS LATER and we're still in the
same groove, and to be honest, each of our plans of attack haven't changed much.).

Anyway, Don put up a browser version of the Muse. Find it here- yes, it runs in the browser and you will need
to have Javascript enabled.

I did get to play with a Muse once at a hamfest - the guy wanted $400 for it which given that it did include the light show but
wasn't demonstrably working, seemed a bit much.

- Bill
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