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General differences in Buchla & Serge design philosophy?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge  
Author General differences in Buchla & Serge design philosophy?
ScientificDreamz
Been picking up more Serge bits after a bunch of eurorack and find it generally way more interesting than average euro bits.

Is there a general rule as to how Buchla differs from Serge in terms of design philosophy? The standout ideas from Serge to me have been an emphasis on adding harmonics, pinging, and feedback. Cheers!
dkcg
Buchla: control and signal shouldn't be mixed.
Serge: a signal is a signal.

Buchla: macro level of control (ie. here's a glass of water pre filtered, softened, made really usable with a lot of thought by Mr. Buchla)
Serge: Micro level of control (ie. here's some Oxygen, some Hydrogen, you can make a glass of water with them or some HydrogenPeroxide, or possibly some other thing Serge T. thought about directly)

Those seem like the biggest differences in "philosophies" of the two formats to me.
flabby
dkcg wrote:
Buchla: control and signal shouldn't be mixed.
Serge: a signal is a signal.

Buchla: macro level of control (ie. here's a glass of water pre filtered, softened, made really usable with a lot of thought by Mr. Buchla)
Serge: Micro level of control (ie. here's some Oxygen, some Hydrogen, you can make a glass of water with them or some HydrogenPeroxide, or possibly some other thing Serge T. thought about directly)

Those seem like the biggest differences in "philosophies" of the two formats to me.


Brillant analogy!! Rockin' Banana!


Buchla = You need maybe 5 banana cables start.
Serge = You need maybe 50 banana cables start.
johnnywoods
Really amazing responses above applause

One other thing from my experience: buchla is really well tuned as a performance instrument. Especially the 200e, which lends itself to long form composition and improvisation.

Serge feels much more like lab equipment. While it is certainly capable of performance, it feels less like an instrument and more like a platform for experimentation and discovery.
Peake
Serge studied at a Buchla system for a while before creating his own system. The Buchla modules opt for functionally-based modules sometimes with multiple possible functions available through switching and inter-module patching (281, etc.). Sometimes functions are limited for specific module identities. Serge brought all functions out to the front panel to allow full patch-programmability within a module. You have more choices but less specific identity at times. As dkcg said, on the Serge audio and CV levels are the same level and connector type; a signal is a signal. Buchla separated these so the signal level could be directly interconnectable in a recording studio, making the studio part of the instrument. Also because he felt distortion wasn't important in CV circuit designs but it was in audio signal paths.
livefreela
dkcg's quote below really does sum the comparison up wonderfully.

My 2 cents: I sit down at my Buchla when I want to write music, I fire up the Serge when I want to play with sound.

I built the Serge first, and I don't imagine parting with it, but the limitless flexibility I thought so wonderful in concept wound up being slightly cumbersome in practical use; leading me to building the Buchla.

Sometimes a little bit of curation can be a good thing!

Patching up a 259 approximation on the Serge (complex vco, fm / am mod index, wavefolder, etc) while certainly possible, is a pain in the ass thing to do every time you sit down to play eek!

dkcg wrote:
Buchla: control and signal shouldn't be mixed.
Serge: a signal is a signal.

Buchla: macro level of control (ie. here's a glass of water pre filtered, softened, made really usable with a lot of thought by Mr. Buchla)
Serge: Micro level of control (ie. here's some Oxygen, some Hydrogen, you can make a glass of water with them or some HydrogenPeroxide, or possibly some other thing Serge T. thought about directly)

Those seem like the biggest differences in "philosophies" of the two formats to me.
chrisso
With one caveat.....
You really can patch a simple monophonic synth sound in Serge very quickly.
It has VCO, VCF, ADSR and Output and you can very easily join them up and play melodies and bass lines.
Buchla on the other hand is more complex from start.

Serge feels more 'normal' to me and Buchla more experimental. Although you can do a lot with serge that isn't obvious at first.
wavecircle
dkcg pretty much summed it up perfectly, Serge is like atomic level synthesis. I find the Serge to be a great education in sound, you learn a lot of about the basics of signal processing by using a full Serge system. I do find it very musical too but to me it has the sound of raw electricity, if Tesla had built a synth it would be something like the Serge. Buchla is a little more refined and "acoustic" sounding to my ears, not to say either system is not capable of both electronic and acoustic sounding timbres.
tIB
Very well put, though I'll add that the serge front panel layouts feel more consistent to me whereas I've always found buchla to be a little ad-hoc.
search64
chrisso wrote:
Serge feels more 'normal' to me and Buchla more experimental. Although you can do a lot with serge that isn't obvious at first.


I’d say that’s backwards.
livefreela
the grid layout, while very beautiful IMO is actually something that turned me off in actual use. A serge has the same knob / real-estate given to say, filter cutoff, as a vastly less frequently 'played' parameter. Though the panel layouts of the Buchla may seem a little crazy at first glance, they're actually really lovely to play - nice and spacious.

tIB wrote:
Very well put, though I'll add that the serge front panel layouts feel more consistent to me whereas I've always found buchla to be a little ad-hoc.
ashleym
About 0.2 v/oct

Very fundamental to the Serges is the price. He wanted to make a synthesiser for the people and the price reflected this. Plus the panel/boat layout. I know this is the mechanics of the instrument but it is part of the Serge DNA, giving you a complete synth on one panel or a collection of the modules you wanted.
chrisso
search64 wrote:


I’d say that’s backwards.


Different strokes then.
I've had my Buchla for 20 years and a three panel Serge for about 8 years in the middle of that.
I've found Serge by far the easiest to understand on a subtractive synthesis level. It maybe that it goes deeper than Buchla once you depart from the basic VCO, ADSR, Filter UAD paradigm.
For me though, Buchla was more something that forced me to think differently.
search64
If you were using a Serge as a basic subtractive synth, you’ve been missing out on all the good stuff.
chrisso
search64 wrote:
If you were using a Serge as a basic subtractive synth, you’ve been missing out on all the good stuff.



Yes, I fully understand that.
The question was which system feels more normal immediately.

johnnywoods wrote:

Serge feels much more like lab equipment. While it is certainly capable of performance, it feels less like an instrument and more like a platform for experimentation and discovery.



For me it was Serge, because it is immediately understandable as a subtractive synth, with all the standard components: oscillators, adsrs, low pass filters etc....

With the lack of low pass filters, the lack of a basic analogue oscillator and the separation of voltage and audio, Buchla forces you much more quickly into a different way of thinking.
Having owned and used both, I think both are a great platform for 'experimentation and discovery. But unlike 'johnnywoods' above, I completely understood Serge as a melodic performance instrument from the get go, which doesn't exclude Serge from being deep and experimental as you learn it.
sopresada
Eurorack = Arithmetic
Serge = Algebra
Buchla = Topology?
ScientificDreamz
Thanks all! really interesting.

The idea that Serge patching allows you to go to more places (and potentially get it wrong more smile ) seems like quite an agreed on picture, hadn't quite appreciated this. Also the Serge = raw electricity sounding vs more naturalistic Buchla.

Is there a good database (other than http://www.serge-fans.com/) for Serge patch ideas? Something like the 'book of bad ideas' on here but serge specific? cheers smile
Triglav
ScientificDreamz wrote:
Thanks all! really interesting.

The idea that Serge patching allows you to go to more places (and potentially get it wrong more smile ) seems like quite an agreed on picture, hadn't quite appreciated this. Also the Serge = raw electricity sounding vs more naturalistic Buchla.

Is there a good database (other than http://www.serge-fans.com/) for Serge patch ideas? Something like the 'book of bad ideas' on here but serge specific? cheers smile


http://serge.synth.net/documents/

The manual by Rich Gold is great.
ScientificDreamz
great, thanks smile
widgetoz
sopresada wrote:
Eurorack = Arithmetic
Serge = Algebra
Buchla = Topology?

n this basis... Euro-Serge = Arithmetic Algebra. Thats 2 out of 3 in one system... not bad
sopresada
widgetoz wrote:
sopresada wrote:
Eurorack = Arithmetic
Serge = Algebra
Buchla = Topology?

n this basis... Euro-Serge = Arithmetic Algebra. Thats 2 out of 3 in one system... not bad


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstract_algebra thumbs up
cygmu
But everyone knows that the best mathematics is algebraic topology.
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