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Image of the Week: The Return of the Patch Cord

Screenshot of Circuit Synth, a modular synthesizer available for the iPhone (and iPod Touch) from developer Michael Daines:

How many technologies have gone the way of the patch cord — from essential tool (in this case meaning the field of analog synthesis) to extended near-obsolescence (with the rise of digital synthesis) to increasingly ubiquitous visual metaphor (from the graphic language of Max/MSP to the proliferating virtual synths, like Circuit Synth and the DS-10 cartridge on the Nintendo DS)?

More information at, and at (from which the above image is borrowed), and at the Apple app store (

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , , , , / Comments: 2 ]


  1. icastico
    [ Posted May 16, 2010, at 9:50 am ]

    But how well do the digital patch chords mimic the accidental sounds from loose connections and frayed wires…;^)

  2. Marc Weidenbaum
    [ Posted May 16, 2010, at 2:53 pm ]

    Good point — maybe that’ll be handled in version 2.0. :)

    In seriousness, at some point, maybe already, these patch cords will be programmed by people with little to no experience with the physical predecessor of the visual metaphor. Then the main experience of the cord won’t be remotely reminiscent of the accidental sounds you note, but instead it’ll be the “click to grid” elastic-magnetic “feel” of the virtual interface.

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