The Modular Harmonica (MP3)

Homework ... when your teacher is Morton Subotnick

Ethan Hein regularly posts his ongoing projects at his page, including recent excursions into music for film. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the music technology program at New York University. And among his professors is none other than the legendary Morton Subotnick, who is schooling his students in the Buchla synthesizer and in the more contemporary software suite, Ableton Live. Hein just posted his “midterm project,” a phrase that isn’t all that promising, since it brings to mind homework, but Hein’s “midterm” is a fun employment of the Buchla. As he explains it:

“Midterm project for Morton Subotnick’s seminar, combining whistling, assorted mouth sounds and harmonica filtered through the Buchla synth (which is also being voltage controlled along various parameters by the mic envelope.) Afterwards I layered on some heavily processed percussion.”
The result is a whimsical experiment in mouth-powered modular, which true to its “Buchla Harmonica” title does often resemble the sound of a kind of cybernetic busker. Above is a photo that Hein posted of Subotnick’s own Buchla. Here is his audio midterm:

Track originally posted at Hein mentioned his studies on his blog. And he’s on Twitter at @ethanhein. More on Subotnick at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *