Suzanne Ciani, Synth Pioneer, on How She Makes Music Now

Photo by Maria Jose Govea

Few have accomplished all that Suzanne Ciani has in the field of electronic synthesis.

In the early 1970s she met Don Buchla and began working for him as a soldering technician, and it was there that she discovered her love for analog synthesis. By the mid-1970s, Suzanne had taken analog modular synthesis to new heights—playing with her Buchla modular platform—and going beyond where Don Buchla thought she could go. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she was pioneering a style now commonly referred to as West Coast Synthesis.

Throughout the 80s, Suzanne made advancements in musical instrument technology and was actively involved in the forefront of various synthesis techniques such as FM and wavetable. Additionally, she established a successful sound design business specializing in sounds and music for TV commercials. She not only paved the way for electronic music as a pioneering woman, but in creating a successful business, she also challenged the gender norms that prevailed at the time.

She’s made a full return to the first thing that inspired her love for electronic music, her Buchla modular synthesizer, and she’s performing with her modular rig all over the world again, with some notable new additions to her rig. -form.

In this episode of Patchwork, Suzanne joins our host, Fess, to talk about her illustrious career in electronic music. They also touch on her current Buchla mods in her performance case and how she breathes new life into her Buchla sets using a hybrid setup with custom iPads and Eventide H9s. In addition, she explains why it is essential to have a quadraphonic sound system in each room where she performs.

Find our previous episodes of Patchworkwhich features discussions with modular artists and synth builders, below.

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