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Applied Neologisms

The audio-visual byways of synthesizer modules

A post shared by Scott Campbell (@scttcmpbll) on

The myriad peculiar names might be dismissed as goofy gimmicks, but applied neologisms certainly do simplify the act of tracking synthesizer culture. Listening in on what musicians, during our search-enabled era, are making with something called the Bitbox, or the ER301, or, yes, the Morgasmatron, is pretty straightforward, compared to keeping pace with LFOs, VCOs, and VCAs, to list a few of the generic building blocks of a modular synthesizer.

This video is a short Instagram piece by Scott Campbell. Its accompanying hashtags (click through to see) note some of the utilized modules and their manufacturers. This lush sequence of melty xylophone-like tones, atop a foundation of chordal haze, brings to mind a lost Julee Cruise backing track or the loudspeaker music at a particularly well-curated holiday ice-skating park. (Campbell knows something about synth nomenclature himself, having developed the Ondes Magnétique cassette-tape manipulation machine, which I wrote about a couple years ago.)

To click on a hashtag such as #squarppyramid or #morphagene is to enter audio-visual corridors where you can check out what other musicians are doing with same tools as Campbell. And while Instagram’s algorithm leaves much to be desired, the recently introduced ability to track favorite hastags means the tools you’re intrigued by will populate your feed with work by musicians of whom you might not previously been aware.

Video originally posted at to the Instagram account of Scott Campbell, more from whom at scttcmpbll.com, twitter.com/scttcmpbll, and etsy.com. Campbell is based in New Orleans, Louisiana.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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