Students from Murdoch University gained hands on experience with some very unusual equipment during a workshop on analogue synthesizers.
The session was presented by analogue synthesizer designer Andrew Fitch, a Perth pioneer in experimental music technology.
Mr Fitch made his first analogue synthesizer out of a Japanese shop mannequin and has never looked back.
“I have always loved electronic music and I am the type of person who would rather build rather than buy my own equipment,” he said.
Mr Fitch has not limited himself to mannequins, building analogue synthesizers out of old guitars, dummy heads and even chocolate boxes.
Murdoch Senior Lecturer in Media Communication and Culture, Simon Order, said the workshop provided students with an opportunity to gain an understanding of the internal architecture of digital technology through experimenting with analogue modular systems.
“Most of our students have been brought up in a completely digital world and have never been exposed to analogue technology before. However, much of the terminology they use and the software designs they will encounter in music technology has roots in analogue systems.
“Giving them an opportunity to experiment with analogue synthesizers where they twiddle with real knobs, push real faders and connect synthesizer modules together with patch cables gives them a foundation to understand how and why digital music technology is represented in the virtual world as it is today.
“Analogue synthesizers were first developed in the 1930s and reached their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. With the introduction of digital technology in the ‘80s most of the companies producing analogue synthesizers went bust, but the technology itself is not dead.
“Interestingly, with the advent of the internet, enthusiasts from around the world were able to share and modify circuit designs to build their own backyard analogue synthesizers. There is a thriving global DIY synth community and many will argue that the sound quality is always better than their digital counterparts.”
The workshop was part of the Sound degree at Murdoch. Graduates may end up working as sound designers, who create sound for all sorts of situations, from TV and film soundtracks to industrial sounds such as car indicators and the ‘beeps’ of machines.