2016 Talks

Robin Heisey

Robin Heisey is a Canadian educator, musician, advertising creative director and self-confessed dilettante, based in Toronto. A graduate of OCAD, UofT, and Steinbeis University Berlin, Robin has been a devotee of electronic music and synthesizers, from his first Moog in 1972, to a constantly-evolving Eurorack system today.

Robin is currently a Professor at the Humber College School Of Media Studies & Information Technology, and serves on the boards of the Canadian Marketing Association, TheatreFront, and on the Print & Drawing Curatorial Committee of the Art Gallery Of Ontario.

My Dinner With Wendy

Many years ago, I got to meet my musical hero, the elusive composer and synthesist Wendy Carlos, visiting her studio in Manhattan and welcoming her to my family’s home in Toronto. In this talk, I’ll share some of the musical and human insights I gained from my many conversations with one of the most misunderstood and underrated artists of her generation.

Steve Castellano

Steve is a writer and musician currently living in Toronto. He took up classical piano at the age of 8 and acquired his first analogue synthesizer when he was 14. At he 17 moved to Toronto where he studied composition under James Tenney and electronic music under Phil Werren at York University. He currently performs and records on a 520 hp Eurorack modular system augmented with an Elektron Octatrack and Moog Sub 37. You can listen to his music at stevecastellano.bandcamp.com.

Randomness, Uncertainty and Chaos

A Radiolab-style exploration of the search for uncertainty – In this talk we’ll explore the role of uncertainty in defining the character of modern modular synthesizers, as well as the generally accepted distinctions between randomness, uncertainty and chaos. Using the Turing Machine, Chaos Brother, Wogglebug and Sloth as examples, we’ll examine the different approaches developers have taken to introduce musical unpredictability into the modular environment.

Jacob Watters

Jacob is a synthesizer enthusiast and electronic musician. His interest in synthesizers has led him to learn electronics and create his own synths and modules. As the the Synth & DJ Product Specialist at Roland Canada, Jacob travels across the country to share his passion for synthesizers and electronic music.

Thinking Outside the Box

Learn how to use modules in ways that the designers never intended. Jacob Watters from Roland Canada will give patch demonstrations and instruction on how to think of patching in new and inventive ways. Learn to expand your creative patching potential.

Heidi Chan

As a former film sound editor and performer of various traditional instruments, she has long been interested in how recorded and remembered sounds can be recontextualized and perceived in novel ways through sampling technology. Her recent immersion into modular systems has offered her new tools for hearing, shaping, fragmenting, and redefining her relationship with various sonic artifacts.

Using Samples In A Modular System

Using and manipulating samples as the primary sound source in a modular system.

David Sutherland

In 1973 David Sutherland touched his first modular synthesiser. It was a Synthi AKS. In 1960, he saw his first oscilloscope in a Northern Electric Laboratory. In 1967, his mind was expanded by the multi-media sights and sounds of Expo 67. In 1971, he sat right behind Karlheinz Stockhausen who was mixing a quadraphonic performance of live electronic music.  David was a member of Metamusic, an ensemble that pioneered live improvised electronic music in Montreal.  David completed the graduate course in electronic music at McGill University which provided the opportunity to work with original devices designed by Hugh LeCain plus Moog and Arp synthesisers.  He also taught the undergraduate course for non-composers for a year. He worked as a recording engineer and composer in Montreal and Toronto in the mid to late 1970’s. In the 1980 he began a 30 year career in working with computers, retiring from the University of Toronto in 2012.  Current interests include sound synthesis/design, music and multi-media as a vehicle of transcendence, the experimental pop song tradition, education and meditation.  David’s aesthetic preferences range from minimalism to punk without very much in between.

Modular <-> DAW interoperability

This talk is focused at the modular novice and seeks to identify technology that supports interoperability. Basically we are going to look at issues and techniques that will help the DAW and the modular play nice with each other. Since questions and observations are welcome during the presentation, by the end of the hour there will be more left to explore than was covered.
The main technology used during the talk is Ableton Live 9, Silent Way and a Eurorack Synthesiser.

Craig Renaud

Modular Synthesist and noise musician performing as Bit Reduction – Chaotic floor grinding, expelling extreme harmonic content at impulsary time. An ambient noise wash.  The worst parts of digital and analogue electronics, performed adhoc.

Feedback Patching Techniques

An exploration and explanation of feedback and its uses within a modular synthesiser, using basic building blocks on a Eurorack system. In addition, we’ll be looking at a basic version of a Rungler patch, based off Rob Hordijk’s wonderful Benjolin and Blippoo box devices.

The Canadian Electronic Ensemble

Founded in 1971, The Canadian Electronic Ensemble is the oldest continuous live-electronic group in the world.

Today we take synthesizers for granted. But when the CEE was founded, electronic music could only be heard on tape. The CEE developed a new medium: live electronic music. The synthesizers of the time were enormous and not meant for live performance. Often, the members of the CEE had to design and build their own instruments.

Forty-five years later, the CEE is still going strong. Now using mostly laptop computers the CEE often pushes new technology to the limit. With various software based synthesizers the CEE is able to deploy all of today’s and yesterday’s most advanced synthesis techniques – often concurrently. Standard instruments are also used, but keeping with the ensembles penchant for anything electronic they are usually not heard without some kind of processing.

The CEE first toured Canada in 1975. Their first European tour was in 1979. In the years since, the group has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe and has appeared with the Toronto Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal.

Today, the CEE continues its tradition of performing live improvised electronic music and performs several times a year mostly around the Toronto area.

Panel Discussion

Discuss our performance, ask questions, start conversations… electronic improvisation, CEE History, Canadian electronic music history, electronic instrument history, etc.  Let’s see where it goes!

Lyle Crilly

A History of Acid

The TB-303 is THE sound of acid and techno house music.  It’s a monophonic analog bass synthesizer married to a pattern-based step sequencer.  Released in 1982, it features a single analog oscillator with two waveforms (ramp or square) and has a simple but excellent VCF (filter) with resonance, cut-off, and envelope controls. There are also knobs to adjust tuning, envelope decay, tempo and accent amount.  In this talk we will examine how an instrument that was initially considered to be a commercial “flop” spawned a whole genre of music and became one of the most desirable synths in the world.