Hatched in Zürich and Honed at MIT: A sonic tour through time and technology featuring the Paradiso synthesizer




MIT Media Lab professor Joseph Paradiso gave a talk on his synthesizer rig at the Swiss Museum and Centre for Electronic Music Instruments in Fribourg, Switzerland on Thursday, January 18 at 8pm CET / 2pm ET. 


Although I started designing and building my own electronic music synthesizers in the mid 1970s, this passion took a huge leap while I was living in Zürich in the early 1980s, where I finished most of what what was probably the world’s largest homemade modular synthesizer.  Incorporating many circuits unusual in synthesizers then, by the late 1980s my system grew to encompass over 125 modules housed in 5 cabinets.  As an early ‘circuit-bender’, I also absorbed several commercial synthesizers into my modular system, including a MiniMoog, a Moog Satellite, a Realistic MG-1, a Casio VL-Tone, and a Casio SK1, interfacing dozens of circuit nodes from each of these synthesizers to panels in my modular that allowed patches to reach deep into their innards.  The system accumulated renown over the years, being awarded distinctions and mention in Keyboard Magazine, Gizmodo, Ars Electronica, etc., and has been exhibited in many live installations, for example at the MIT Museum and The Ars Electronica Festival in Linz.  I still continue developing, expanding, and using my device in very complex patches, often leveraging up to 1000 patch cords to produce complex, autonomous soundscapes that continually evolve and stream worldwide over the Internet. One of my recent modules, developed in collaboration with my students, allows anybody over the internet to change parameters of a running patch in real time, effectively crowdsourcing a modular composition. In this talk I'll describe how I developed this system in Boston and in Zürich, then tour through some of its most unique modules and show examples of how I use it all in patches and installations.  If time warrants, I'll also touch on a few projects relating to music and musical controllers from my research group at the MIT Media Lab.


Joe Paradiso is the Alexander W. Dreyfoos (1954) Professor in Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where he directs the Responsive Environments group and serves as Acting Academic Head.  He received his PhD in Physics from MIT in 1981 and a BSEE from Tufts University in 1977, and joined the Media Lab in 1994 after developing spacecraft control and sensor systems at Draper Laboratory and high-energy physics detectors at CERN Geneva and ETH Zurich.  He is a pioneer in the development of the Internet of Things and renowned for work in wearable sensing systems, energy harvesting technology, and electronic music controllers.  His current research explores how sensor networks and AI augment and mediate human experience, interaction and perception.  This has encompassed wireless sensing systems, wearable and body sensor networks, ubiquitous/pervasive computing and the Internet of Things, human-computer interfaces, space-based systems, sensate materials, digital twins in virtual worlds, and interactive music/media. He has written 400 articles and papers and holds over 25 patents in these areas.  Joe has also been designing, building, and using his own electronic music synthesizers since the early 1970s, amassing one of the world’s most unique and extensive custom modular systems, which has been featured in installations worldwide.  He has always enjoyed composing electronic soundscapes, and seeking out edgy and unusual music while traveling the world.  

More at:
ParadisoModular on YouTube


Courtesy of Joseph Paradiso

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