Announcing Henry’s School of Audio Synthesis, a 90 minute demonstration, explanation and performance of electronic music techniques.

My name is Henry Birdseye, and I love sound. I have found that young minds are receptive to seeing, hearing and learning about electronic music or “synthesis,” for short. Using my rack of contemporary gear, an oscilloscope and a pair of speakers I’ll show off the relationship between the waveforms we will create and the sounds that result, and harness the power of the various parts to make music from scratch. Students are invited and encouraged to join me in twiddling synthesizer patches to make new sounds and melodies.

Oh, and this is free.

I love to teach and speak publicly, and share knowledge about something interesting to opened minds. Adults and students have enjoyed my demos at Henry Ford Museum and at Summer Camp.

It is my love of sound that I seek to share.

Of course, I, and you, hear sounds all the time, every second of every day. Unless, you are deaf.

Those sounds we hear are made from sine waves. Here’s one now:

The space between the peaks, determines the sine wave’s frequency.

Here a low frequency sine wave:

And here is one with a higher frequency, or pitch:

In the real world, you would rarely hear a single sine wave by itself, unless you were in a lab. What you do hear all the time are dozens, maybe hundreds of sine waves all blended together into a much more complex waveform, some sines lasting for a fraction of a second, others becoming louder and changing volume slowly.

When we hear a waveform made of a few sine waves whose frequencies are in certain mathematical ratios, we humans find them pleasing. When we arrange those waveforms into different pitches, we have made music.

So much do I love making those sounds with those specific mathematical relationships, that I have equipment to do it from scratch. This is no big deal. If I banged a stick on a bucket, that would count as “making it from scratch.” So, to narrow it down a little bit, I have electronic devices that make waveforms that translate to sound. I can make musical sequences that people find pleasing, or I can synthesize the sound of someone banging on a bucket with a stick. I can also take the sound of a banged bucket, and transform it further into something that sounds completely different.

That pile of gear over there is my synthesizer. Specifically a voltage-controlled, analog modular synthesizer.

Modular, because there are quite a few modules that I can connect to other modules with those little colored patchcords.
Analog, because the signals that route between the modules are simple voltages, unlike a computer.
Voltage-controlled, because practically every knob in it, can be kind of remote-controlled using voltages from other modules.

The class demonstration will go into detail about individual tools and how they connect to make something new. And to end the class, I’ll pass out information about how get synthesizing at home, inexpensively, or for no money at all.

I’m excited to do more “synthesizer outreach,” and I will try to work around your openings. I need only a small classroom with good acoustics and electricity. I’ll bring a white board for illustrations.

I am:
Henry Birdseye
Berkley, MI


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I have put together all my favorite synthesizer links for your time-slaughtering pleasure. Go click it!