Modular Hip-hop (MP3)

Time heals all musical genre rifts

Musics from disparate cultures that occur during a similar era might have shared dispositions, shared characteristics, that become clear only as time progresses. Case in point: Ethan Hein‘s recent experiment in employing a Buchla modular synthesizer to rework source material from hip-hop, specifically the human beatboxing of Doug E Fresh. Fresh isn’t himself self-evident in the track, so transformed are his syllables. But the vibrancy of the track makes sense when the listener is informed of the source material. Hein reports that it is a rough draft of a piece for a class he is taking with Morton Subotnik, who back in 1963 was responsible for commissioning the development of the Buchla, which was the first analog synthesizer: “Rough mix of my newest Buchla epic,” writes Hein, “with some processed beatboxing by the great Doug E Fresh. Presently long and unstructured. Future iterations will probably be shorter and more orderly.”

Track originally posted at Earlier homework by Hein for his Subotnick class: “The Modular Harmonica.” More on Hein at

One thought on “Modular Hip-hop (MP3)

  1. Hey Marc, thanks once again for the signal boost. The piece is done now if folks want to check it out again (or for the first time.) I’m in the process of writing up the visit the class paid to Subotnick’s studio to see his own Buchla setup in action; I’ll let you know when it goes live! (Probably after my finals are done next week.)

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