Breadboarding Modular Synthesizers

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Breadboarding Modular Synthesizers

In this hands-on workshop, you will learn how to design basic electronic oscillators with integrated circuits and discrete components. These principals will allow us to synthesize musical sounds from the ground up and arrange them into melodic and rhythmic patterns.

Over the course of two days, we will focus on two circuit typologies: square wave oscillators for synthesizing pitched instruments and sine wave oscillators for emulating percussive sounds. After learning how to build these circuits out on breadboards, we’ll explore two ways of interacting with our circuits – one a button-based system for actuating sounds, and another an automated circuit for sequencing them.

By the end of the workshop, you will have built your own unique, playable instrument capable of generating synth melodies and sequencing drum patterns in real-time.

No previous experience is necessary and all materials are provided for you in this workshop.

Course Logistics

Dates: Monday February 19 & Tuesday February 20, 2024

Times: 6-9PM PT

Location: Gray Area / Grand Theater
2665 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Cost: $250

Scholarship: We also offer Diversity Scholarships.
Apply by February 5, 2024.

Experience Level: Beginner

• No additional tools required

Additional Information:
• No refunds or exchanges
• View our FAQ here
• Contact [email protected] with any questions

Workshop Outline

Day 1

  • Build out a basic square wave oscillator + amplifier
  • Build out a basic twin-T sine wave oscillator
  • Troubleshooting and Q&A with an explanation of both circuits

Day 2

  • Using buttons and switches as an interface
  • Build out sequencer with binary counter + multiplexer
  • Circuit variations and discussion of further possibilities

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Sean Russell Hallowell (aka isorhythmics) is an audiovisual artist from the Bay Area. His performances and installations synthesize compositional techniques developed from hand-built electronic circuitry with a cosmic perspective on music's origins in number and time. In his art, visual and auditory phenomena emerge as dual manifestations of what Medieval European musicians called the “arts of number” – i.e. music, arithmetic, geometry and astronomy. Concert works and multimedia installations of his have been showcased at festivals and galleries across the US as well as in Mexico, Chile, South Korea, the UK, Belgium, Croatia, and Iceland. He holds degrees in music theory from Brown University (AB) and Columbia University (PhD) with a specialization in 15th- and 16th-century Franco-Flemish vocal polyphony.