Why and how was Moog successful in inventing the synthesiser, over contempories such as Buchla?

The advent of the synthesiser had a profound affect on music, economically and creatively. It has created and destroyed jobs, and was vehemently opposed by the musicians unions; it has allowed new styles of music, unimaginable before, to flourish. And it was the product of a geeky boy called Bob Moog (pronounced to rhyme with ‘rogue’) and his trusty soldering iron. But contemporaneously to his invention, hundreds of miles away, Don Buchla was working on a similar piece of hardware. He didn’t call it a synthesiser, and it’s not as well known, but it did very similar things and was certainly part of the same impact. So why is it Moog, and not Buchla, whose name is famous as the inventor of the synthesiser? And why not anybody else? This essay will firstly examine Moog’s life, and his development of the synthesiser, to try and uncover if there was anything in particular about him that marked him out as ‘special’; it will then examine Moog’s creation in the broader discipline of design; and then compare Buchla’s methodology and philosophy to Moog’s. At the end, we will have some understanding of what it was about Moog that pushed his name into the limelight.

Bob Moog (born in 1934), as a child, had a dynamite characteristic that led him to develop his famous brand of synthesisers; he was shy. Out of place with the rough neighbourhood children and their endless fighting, or the moneyed children at his Bronx Science School, he found sanctuary in the basement, where his father taught him to solder; he was the archetypal electronic hobbyist. His mother, on the other hand, required of him to practise the piano. Was it here that he found the inspiration to combine his parents’ influences? No. Moog himself would not visualise his potential until years later. However, he had an excellent introduction to the world of electronic music; when he was only fifteen, he built his first theremin.

Here was a hobbyist kit that was not just a toy, like so many bought in magazines; once built, the theremin is a serious, and bizarre, instrument. Used as the wailing sound of Martian UFOs in so many ‘B’ movies, at its heart was the same principle as all electronic instruments – two high-frequency oscillators whose combined form produces a sound (of lower frequency), when fed through a speaker. This is why tape driven or electronic sound is now (in the digital age) referred to as ‘analogue’; what is stored or created as a series of changes of magnetic charge, or electrical voltage, is exactly analogous to the changes of air pressure that are sound. After graduating in Physics and Electronic Engineering, he got into a business manufacturing theremin kits. It is now that we enter what we may think of as our start state. Moog met an experimental composer, Herb Deutsch, at a convention, while selling his theremins. They started talking, and hit upon the idea of a ‘portable electronic music studio’. Moog asked Deutsch,” what do you want to be able to do?” and Deutsch replied “… I want to make these sounds that go wooo-wooo-ah-woo-woo.”

Let us try do define exactly what state the ‘wooo-wooo-ah-woo-woo’ business was in at this point. Most electronic music at that time was tape driven; producing a piece of electronic music was often a case (as with Herb Deutsch) of cutting up tape samples of sounds, sticking them back together and playing the result. One device, the Mellotron, consisted of a keyboard, underneath every key of which lay a piece of tape and a playback head. When the key was depressed, whatever sound had been recorded onto the tape was played, and up to about 8 seconds worth of audio could be stored, acting a little like a primitive sampler. Synthesis itself – creating sounds from scratch, using electrical circuitry – existed too, but nothing like in the form that Moog was about to create. An RCA synthesiser existed at Moog’s university, but he never saw it; it was the size of a room, contained 750 vacuum tubes, and had to be programmed with punch cards, just like the computers of the day (1957). If he had, maybe he wouldn’t have used the name for his own invention.

And just like the computers of the day, it was the transistor that was at the heart of the revolution of what was possible with synthesis. Synthesisers were interesting, but huge, and stagnant – there was little or no dynamic control over pitch, or other aspects of the sound that was being produced. The transistor in particular that Moog prized most highly, and must be commended for, was one that had an exponential relationship between input voltage and output current – the same relationship that exists between frequency and pitch. That is, when a string, vibrating at 44Hz, the note ‘A5’, is held halfway along its length, it will vibrate at twice the speed, 88Hz; but its pitch will raise by only one octave, to ‘A6’. This is due entirely to how our senses render sound (consider the linear scale of a keyboard); but what we hear is what we are interested in, and Moog realised that by using a linear ‘control voltage’, an appropriate, useful, pitch could be generated. From then on, he used a simple ‘volt-per-octave’ standard. Moog had a small, experimental kit set up, with an oscilloscope as well as a speaker, to appreciate the look and get to know the character of the sounds he produced more; and with his voltmeter, he could play around with the circuitry and see it as it changed. He developed an envelope generator (to create more dynamic sonic textures, it has four periods of control over a voltage – attack (how quickly the voltage increase from zero), decay (how quickly it falls off), sustain (how far it falls off) and release (how quickly it falls to zero once the control voltage finishes) – ADSR, to use ARP’s terminology), and attached a keyboard up to his synthesiser to have a more traditional interface. Each key had two switches attached – one to create the control voltage, at a determinable level, and the other to start the envelope. From his very first set-up, with everything splayed out on a board for easy modification, he had two oscillators. This in particular was a simple, yet groundbreaking, innovation, allowing a huge amount of new variety, as signals could be fed around and into each other (frequency modulation). It is amazing how many of his inventions and innovations, within the larger idea, became standard features. He wasn’t making them for profit, nor was he making them for anyone else other than himself and Deutsch at this stage; but as his work began to get better known, people started coming to him with their orders, their ideas, and Moog got a reputation (in small circles) as the man who could make your sonic-related dreams come true. And if not, then what came out was sure to be interesting anyway.

In search terms, Moog did not seem to be using any kind of heuristic. He had a vague idea of his ultimate goal – the portable electronic music studio – but maybe he was just performing a blind search, doing what seemed to be the right move at every state. Just about every progression was kick-started by his collaboration with some artist, and it seems to be this that was a real aspect of his genius – knowing who to work with, listening and understanding their requirements, and being able to really deliver, although usually late. A failure might have chosen uninspired people, not recognising it; Moog gravitated towards, and found himself, in the company of people who were in touch with what he was doing, and their excitement at what he could do for them turned into his drive to create. Gustav Ciamaga drove him to develop a sweep-able filter – his only patent in the Moog 100 was his low-pass ‘ladder’ filter, and not only was it patented, it’s sound was instantly recognisable. Wendy Carlos desired touch-sensitivity, portmento and a fixed filter bank. It was his working with artists – his consumers – and their ideas that really drove him.

We can examine his work in more depth, though. Design is a hybrid; the process of design can be thought of as involving both logical and creative processes, which cannot be separated and worked upon individually. There is an art to it, as well as a science. Design problems are characterised by there not being an obvious logical route through the problem space: “Design, of the sort we are interested in, is ill-structured in that tasks involve underspecified goals and operators.” There is also likely to be underspecification of the transformation function across the problem space. It is difficult to say exactly what the problem is without saying exactly what the solution is in a design task, and vice versa; like with Herb Deutsch’s ‘underspecified’ woo-woo machine, he didn’t know exactly what he was after, but he would know it when he saw it. In a design task, there is no right or wrong answer, only better or worse, and only by exploring the possibilities can designers find better solutions. This is the creative side of Design showing through; in a simple logical system, there would be a clear divide between goal states and non-goal states. As complexity increases, and more factors have to be balanced, solutions that are equally good for different reasons may present themselves, and with the creativity element present, it is very difficult to know when to stop searching for a better solution when one is found – it may only be a matter of taste. This would explain that Buchla waited as long as possible before demonstrating his Buchla Box because he could afford the time until the end of the funding season; conversely, it would also explain why Moog ‘arrived’ at a solution sooner, when he had no time limit imposed – because no design is truly final, he might as well show where he was up to, which happened to be a complete system (at the time, it was the only one, so that is somewhat tautologous!). Design is no job for an expert system. It requires a balance between knowing what is possible in a system, and an aesthetic appreciation of form. Designs evolve over time, and gradually get better.

Goel and Pirolli write of ‘reversing the direction of the transformation function’, how a designer can challenge their given brief and negotiate for one that better suits their expertise. This is the result of an underspecified problem; maybe the designer can help clarify exactly what the problem is – and maybe it coincidentally fits in with this other thing that they were doing… In more disciplined areas, it doesn’t make sense to move the goal posts, because the specific problem may only consist of the parameters involved – to say ‘this chemistry experiment would work if I were using different chemicals’ is tantamount to saying ‘this chemistry experiment is a failure’. “Design constraints are nonlogical and therefore manipulable” , but with Moog the case was even more manipulable, because he even had a hand in setting his own specification.

Problems are frequently solved by breaking down the problem into ‘manageable chunks’, of varying interconnectivity, size, and structure. Chunks in design are thought of as having loose connections between each other, and can be quite independent. They are also less likely to be arranged in a hiearchical structure, and more in a span; it is a mangrove rather than a tree. It is fascinating quite how literally this applies to Moog’s development process. The interesting thing is that the finished product is just a bunch of modules, as if he forgot to stick them back together properly and put a lid on the box. Of course this is absolutely intentional. He seems to have directly mapped his view of the sound creation process into circuitry, and then realised the real benefit of having such a loose series of connections – and it is not just that the connections are loose, but that they are removable. Moog could have finalised and hardwired his synthesiser (like later ventures, i.e. the Minimoog), but it instead designed a system which had its own design problem built in for the user to complete to get any sound out of it! And although there must be an order to the signal flow, preferably starting with a key press and ending with an amplifier, Moog’s synthesiser is not a hierarchical system – modules themselves can all be attached in any order, with any number, each serving a specific (and yet sometimes malleable) function. There is overall a linear path from key to amplifier, in that there is one input and one output, but actual process could be very complicated, with the signal being split, modified, modulated and so forth. The point is, one cannot talk about how Moog structured his synthesiser, expect saying that he left it up to the user. And it goes further than just the one synthesiser, of course, because modules were also available separately. In this respect, Moog was creating a set of design tools, a framework to design upon, and by not specifying how they should be used – what should be plugged in where and at what dials the levels should be set at – he was inviting his users to experiment and play around.

Let us return to discussing Moog’s ‘on the fly’ approach; in his studio, he had several forms of feed-back, and the beauty of working with circuit boards is that with a handy soldering iron, they can be quickly edited and experimented upon. Once the germ of an idea exists, not much has to be put down on paper before one can start soldering. This is tremendously advantageous to the design process – an architect can hardly start putting a few walls together in his studio to see how they look in reality (now, computer aided design has let architects do this virtually). Being able to experiment, and maybe not being sure of the consequences, can only increase a designer’s knowledge of the problem space. Failures are not erased from the record, they are learnt from. And old boards can still be salvaged and the best made of them, or stored in case some new knowledge from a different part of the problem space sheds some light on how to better a previous partial solution.

Having studied something of what made Moog the household name he is today, let us turn our attention to Don Buchla, Moog’s contemporary who is not as well known in mainstream culture. His story is remarkably similar to Moog’s; born three years later on the other side of The U.S.A., Buchla had a similar hobby for electronics and a passion for music, and graduated in physics; after numerous electronics jobs (without much formal training), including building particle accelerators and the odd NASA job, he found himself disinterested in mainstream work and wanting to do something new and exciting – and found himself at the San Francisco Tape Music Center. This was founded by Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender, electronic music composers, who had decided to pool their resources and equipment into a common treasury. It staged radical concerts and housed a studio, a ramshackle affair containing any useful or interesting electrical gadgetery they could get hold of (frequently out of skips). The (completely necessary) do-it-yourself ethic took a more dynamic turn when Subotnick and Sender realised they wanted a specific device to make music with, instead of abusing whatever they found. They wanted more control, more portability, a “black box” for composing… exactly what Deutsch had vaguely desired Moog to build for him, without really being able to put his finger on what it was. Buchla received $500 to build an “intentional electronic music device” of the centre’s 1964-1956 $30,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Buchla’s effort took longer to design. After a near-simultaneous germination in 1963, Moog finished his prototype in mid-1964, over a year before Buchla unveiled his ‘Buchla Music Box Series 100’. Quite what Buchla’s delay was isn’t clear; it may be that his position on a pay roll meant he was willing to wait until the end of the year of funding before unveiling his creation, and producing it sooner would have been needless. Moog didn’t have a ‘due date’ to work towards. Many of the above abstractions of Moog’s design ethic would also apply equally well to Buchla.

Buchla, drawing on his own background and unaware of Moog’s work, hit upon the voltage control method as well; But Buchla’s charge – the supercedence of tape splicing – led him to invent a piece of hardware now known as a ‘sequencer’ instead of a keyboard interface. His first sequencer would loop a series of eight notes (as control voltages) at a determinable speed. From the Tape Center’s perspective, this eliminated the need to splice together eight pieces of tape to form a melody. Buchla didn’t want his new, exciting instrument to look like a fake piano; for the same reason, he rejected the term ‘synthesiser’, with its implications of copying something natural. By not attaching a traditional interface to his ‘Buchla Box’ (as it became known), he was intention was to focus on the machine, the wires and so forth, while the sequencer looped it’s melody: “… it’s a far more experimental way. It’s appealing to fewer people, but it’s more exciting.” This statement is very telling. It informs us right away that the reason the Moog synthesiser is more commercially successful than Buchla’s is less to do with their working methods and more to do with their ideas about how their invention should be used, and circumstance. Moog, in New York, already had a business, so going into mass-production of synthesisers was an easy step for him, and one he made almost blindly, merely responding to a demand that was so latent it did not exist except in the minds of a few visionaries until the products were being made (and, when production was in full swing, some very effective sales techniques). Buchla, in California, had much more of his own vision of what he wanted his instrument to be used for – a conventional scale was not sacred to him, or his Tape Center contempories, such as John Cage and David Tudor, so he never appreciated the need for a volt-per-octave standard. He had a production unit and it became his living, but never went into ‘mass’ manufacture and was very suspicious of mainstream, homogenised culture.

In a way, the similarities between the two inventor’s systems outweigh the differences. Both formulated a voltage control system; both realised that by decomposing the unit into modules connected by patch chords, and analogously, decomposing the problem into sub-problems, they could produce a much more creative, customisable machine. What were the real differences between the Buchla Music Box Series 100 and the Moog? Aside from the keyboard/sequencer distinction discussed above, there was a difference in exactly what modules were contained in these prototypical set-ups, indicative of how each designer saw their invention being used; Buchla included a ring modulator, while Moog had a filter, and soon a frequency modulator. Ring modulation involves multiplying together two input waveforms, to produce their sum and difference; the output waveform is chaotic and sounds metallic, akin to a bell. Frequency modulation is a smoother process. The Buchla Box also included some touch-sensitive pads, that he called ‘kinesthetic input ports’ (a typically Buchlian name) to voltage-control other devices. If one so desired, these could even be tuned to match a scale and used as a keyboard. A large and meaningful distinction involved the patch chord set up of the systems. Since there was a difference between a control voltage and a signal voltage, Buchla decided to separate the two sorts by using two different kinds of leads – normal phono leads for signal voltages, and unscreened wires with a stackable plug at each end (so several inputs could go into one socket) called banana plugs for control voltages. He didn’t want his users – and he didn’t think his users would want – to use modules that were optimised for control, for signal, and vice versa. He would also argue that this helped build more complex systems that were easier to understand, because at a glance a user can tell what is a signal wire and what is a control wire. He had a clear, ideological divide between a zone of control and a zone of signal. Conversely, the Moog had only one type of lead. One minor advantage of this is a purely logistical one, that only having one kind of lead means only having to worry about one stock of cables, or needing a banana plug when you only have a bunch of spare phonos; but the main reason is best put by Moog himself: “in order to separate them you’d have to think you would never want to use an audio signal as a control… maybe his was easier to use… but mine was more versatile.” Control and signal voltages are both just different frequencies of the same current, just as an oscillator can be slowed down into a low frequency oscillator to affect the timbre of the sound instead of the pitch. It’s interesting that while Buchla saw Moog’s work as tying users to a keyboard interface, Moog thought Buchla’s stood in the way of freedom to use the circuitry as they saw fit. Moog’s philosophy seems to be that ‘the customer is always right’. Really, both their ideas for interface and connectivity can be argued as liberating. A keyboard means you have to keep playing instead of knob-twiddling, but gives you more control over the tune than the sequencer. Banana plugs mean you can build more complex systems, but at the expense of an expanded range of features.

Buchla’s ideas about synthesis are no less interesting for being less successful. Indeed, if commerce is the only real way we can measure success, then in this arena it is not very useful to talk about success when the only measure is units shifted, if that had nothing to do with the quality of design. Buchla’s synthesiser was as good as Moog’s, and they are both still working in the area. The reason why ‘Moog’ is a household name really comes down to his keyboard interface. It was this ‘compromise’ that led to the successful record ‘Switched-On Bach’ – a selection of classical works played on a Moog. The keyboard led to the development of the hardwired Minimoog, designed with live performances in mind and taken up by many more bands than the sprawling modular units ever were (not that it couldn’t be hacked up and modified if desired). A Buchla Box was great for creating ‘weird shit’ sounds at Grateful Dead concerts, but with a keyboard, you could play along to a song in a group, not just make introspective soundscapes, interesting to only a select few. The standards set forth by Moog – a keyboard interface, volt-per-octave, confusing patch chords, exponential transistors, and certainly his envelope generator and filters – are synonymous with synthesisers today, even in the face of forty years of competition. It is only recently, with the growth in digital synthesis, that may of his features have been superseded.

Bechtel, W., and Richardson, R. C. (1991). Discovering complexity: Decomposition and Localization as Strategies in Scientific Research. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Goel, V., and Pirolli, P. (1992). The Structure of Design Problem Spaces. Cognitive Science, 16(3), 395-429.

Pinch, T., and Trocco, F. (2002). Analog Days: the Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer.

holiday report, commissioned for school magazine

Why? I went because I wanted to see the world. I wanted to put something back. I wanted to see how they live on the other side of the planet – the developing world that they’re always talking about. I wanted to help the rainforests that I love so much, and see what they are like to be inside.. I wanted to do something selfless and productive, to show myself that I could. I wanted to go into my third year of university with a clear head, after the emotional doll’s house of second year. So, I went to Indonesia – specifically, to a small village, Labundo-bundo, on Buton, off the eastern coast of Sulawesi, from where Operation Wallacea, who run ‘scientific conservation expeditions’ every year, monitor the change to the forest and aid its conservation. Sounds great, I thought. Off I went for four weeks.
I left my front door in the peak district on Wednesday morning, and arrived in Labundo’ Saturday night (local time)– a long time of doing absolutely nothing with only a single consistant sleep (Wednesday night at my uncle’s in london). I could get used to that. It was exciting. At various points upon the journey, when changing between modes of transport, I caught glimpses of our world – and it didn’t impress me. The vast majority of humanity leads a rat-like existence of discontentment and disease. Maybe docks and airports don’t bring out the best of us. But waking up in Labundo’ was different, and it’s difficult to describe it fairly; it was not untouched by globalisation – stalls in the village sold coca-cola and nestlĂ©, one or two houses had satellite TV, and it can’t be judged as a typical village in the area since it has had so much more investment from OpWall, but there was an atmosphere of quiet contentitude in the locals.

So, the forest was beautiful. And at first, slightly under-impressive. How can I think that? It’s clearly a brilliant place, bursting with magnificent flora and fauna. You’ve see it on telly. So had I, and as such, during the second week, I began to feel cheated. The side of myself I hate most – the pampered, beat-addicted, western low-attention-span had resurfaced, and I had started to think the money could have spent better selfishly. We were going bird monitoring that week, and it was too much like hard work – each day was a tough 5km hike back and forth across the jungle, and we rarely actually saw a bird, since the canopy was too thick, we just listened to their songs instead. Once I had began to accept that this was in fact paradise, and paradise was quiet, the forest even rewarded me when, 50 metres down the path from my companions, a rare wild pig ran out less than ten metres away. I love pigs! After this revelation – one of the reasons I had come was to purge myself – the second two weeks were blissful. I could lie back in a hammock strumming my uke and staring at the canopy and sky and simply feel good (blessed as we were with excellent weather). Of course, there were dietry differences and back problems, but how can they compare to spending a day following a troupe of monkeys around the reserve (the forest was a national park) or folk dancing to System of a Down with the local chief of police? Marvellously, I don’t feel a changed person after the trip; I feel more like myself than ever before.

I am truly grateful for the funding provided by the school that helped me take part in the trip, and benefited the locals of Labundobundo.


Robin Says

What else? No school today cos it's National Men's
Day. So that's great. All the men are walking around
with their National Service gear on and a beer in
their hand.

in other news:
Royal wedding legal says minister.
Should Queen attend wedding?
Don't care
26549 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion.

Pope in 'you're just like hitler' shock; but your popeyness, there is one huge difference between abortion and the holocaust - you kicked up a fuss about abortion.

The Pope describes vividly his meeting later with the Turkish gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, who tried to kill him.

The Pope says that Agca could not understand how the attempt to kill him had failed after very careful planning and execution, and speculates that the would-be assassin probably realised that there was a higher power at work.

if that's one of the "dense philosophical arguments" contained in his new book, we aethiests are in trouble. *sarcasm(irony{meta-irony})*


Dressing like that... it's like rubbing your fanny on the wall and acting surprised when your dog starts to lick the greasy patch.

log is back
. with a very tiny vengance.
and other thing: the thing is about good ol' hunter s. going and shooting themself, is that it's the least shocking 'shocking' news i've ever heard. joel came down as we were leaving yesterday and moaned the news; 'oh,' i thought. 'i suppose that's quite reasonable, actually. i mean, he had enough guns.' elliott smith stabbing himself through the heart, now that was unexpected, and worthy of weeks of wonder and sadness. it's more like les dennis (shit, i mean rod hull) having a heart attack and falling off the roof while fixing the tv ariel during a storm so he could watch the united match - an hilarious way to go, befitting of the man. i think it reflects well on thompson - we should divide our heros by ones who killed themselves and ones who didn't have the conviction. suppose i'm getting a bit hicksian there.
i dreampt about two houses this morning - i think one was based on my grandma pat's, and i did the biggest poo ever. the other was populated by goths or actual ghosts or something. there was a hill. and then we got the train back along the coast (so it must have been a prestatyn dream), but it went over the sea, and massive waves started coming towards us but we were too high, and then they got bigger and pushed us off the train and we landed on the shore.

this is remarkable because it means i got some sleep last night, which i don't remember doing at all. i had rotten belly ache and wanted to be sick to get it out. this is what comes of finishing in the labs at 6, and finding all the food outlets closed, meaning another dinner of crisps and humus (plus dry, claggy falafel). lets see... 110g of falafel, 200g of humus, and maybe 75g of kettle chips, washed down with horrible lager (how badly can you fuck up a pint of grolsch?). about half four i gave in and went to get a glass of water. then my computer fucked up and wouldn't play music to wake me up (actually i hadn't left the speakers on, but i was certain i did), i got out of bed when the postie knocked at 0810, and laurance said 'get up grilly' while i was stood in the hall. oh, thanks for the help. i needed that get up call. instead i went back to bed, and made my 9 o'clock with -25 minutes to spare. 39p croissonts from co-op, plus change from a tenner (so the bus driver doesn't go grump)? the new weetabix. so now i'm back in the labs, wondering why on earth this bug won't get the fuck out of my program, and working on the (thankfully easy-looking) databases assignment for thursday.

well done to everyone who helped with the Autonomous Cafe in the library - while the fayre was a little disappointing, the demand is obviously great and it's something you should do again.

the reason of course i was hanging out on campus was to go to arena unplugged, and i should have been performing, but that would have taken too much forthought. almost every was very good, and i'd love to know who won. there were only a couple of people who didn't impress for one reason or another - for instance, the first man up's songs were plodding and predictable and familiar, but they sounded good somehow. president roger made an awful compare though. to wit - after an embarresing silence while he stumbles onstage: "yeah, that was 'mat', lets have another round of applause for mat. next up - erm, angie." then he'd wander away, leaving only more silence to warm up the to the next act. rubbish.

where is jess's secret blog? first one to tell me wins a prize.

kimya dawson's gorgeous bags - designed and delivered for only $45.

what an unbelievable bargain.


overheard in the computer 'lab'

person one: "...i saw 50 cent last summer, he got booed and bottled offstage. reading festival... it's a rock festival."

person two: "how can you mix rock and rap?"

i did say "i think 'Rage against the machine' did it quite well" fairly loudly, but they were too wrapped up.

'Mastodon' named 'Most Stolen From Band of 2004' by all magazines

so i was ill. i spent 10 hours alone in my room with a yellow plastic bowl and no concept of time. i et one piece of toast, and let the other go hard. i couldn't even ring anyone to say 'come round and look after me' . it wasn't great.

BBC say:
But he [Bush] refused to bow to conservative pressure on him to criticise homosexuals.

"I'm not going to kick gays because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?" he claimed on the tape to have told James Robison, an evangelical minister in Texas.
how about 'there's nothing wrong with them'? the "not that there's anything wrong with that type of thing" line doesn't even make an appearance.

cut to the new kid who works at dave's, with his completely impotent and cringe-inducing "no, i'm not homophobic - some of my friends are gay." i think that's what it was, although i actually remember it as "i'm actually terribly afraid of a homosexual man bum-raping me."

and for all of you who've complemented me on my writing recently, here's some three valued logic truth tables. no, really. i was completely delighted when my databases lecturer showed us this. sorry it's absolutely impossible to read in that format, but it's the best i could find.

another interesting thing happened on the way to owning the Garden 12"; i was checking all the music shops in town in case they had it (ultimately i had to order it from the excellent warpmart), and in doing so, i walked into Bionic, "where music is life", on north street. i was greeted immediately by a rack of CDs. 'Great!' i thought, 'now where's the vinyl?' i turned to the left, and saw only clothes. i turned right, and saw only more clothes. black trousers. pink blouses. rocker stuff. hippy stuff. i walked round the pillar - clothes. everywhere. 'i don't understand!' i said to the young lady behind the large counter (the place is about the size of a large open bar) 'when did this stop being a music shop?!'
'about two months ago, we're slowly phasing the records out,' she said. 'oh', i thought, 'maybe they'll have some bargains on their sole cd rack.' actually, no. although everything was marked two-for-one, there wasn't a single thing i even vaguely liked the look of. and so ends the saga(loo) of bionic.

project news: my program complies and gives output, although it's not quite right. i'll give it a couple of tweaks and then tie it up to a interface and it'll be fine.

pete's got a typically dandyish take on metal upline now on his site, the self-aggrandising my superb. i really am bollock impressed with his recent stuff. it's the wack.

in the meantime, here's a riff i was playing this morning (obviously the stupidly titled 'gather in the mushrooms' (an acid folk collection) is already having an effect):
it's in 7s, but playing it, your brain tries to push it into an 8 and a 6. just a scribble but i really enjoyed practising it.

GIRL! i want to take you to a NaBar!

some new knock knock jokes:

knock knock
>who's there?
>oblivion who?
oblivia newton-john.

knock knock!
>who's there?
knock who?
knock knock!
>who's there? (continue ad infinitum)

it was interesting walking around town this weekend. i didn't feel that all the saint valentine's day adverts were talking to me, and i don't think i would have done even if i were in a relationship (ha!). i don't feel like i have anything to do with those shops, i wouldn't go in them normally anyway.

but two things changed this weekend.
the second, for the first time i can remember, i spent money on a new fashion accessory - an unbranded purple baseball cap. it's an image thing. i consider how i look as i leave the house.

quote of the weekend: "what's wrong with brighton!? why so many baby shops?"
overheard in the north laine. i'd never noticed more than one before - i must have just assumed they were all the same one ("like backgrounds in a cheap cartoon," said Laurence). but there are hundreds! what's wrong with brighton? there are about eight (no exaggeration) in the north laine alone. one had a tiny t-shirt - "i had my mum in stitches".

Tim didn't visit me, but L's parents did. thanks to them. and also it was nice to see emma and mat, down for the weekend.

the other thing that changed is that cunt was on telly. it was quite good. it was funny and tragic. but the world seems different now. out on saturday night, following astra to the sussex arts club(and last night to see 'i licked a slag's deoderant'), i was slightly dazed. it is the culmination of so much. i remember the days when tvgohome was updated fortnightly; i was there, goddammit. and it's finally reached the nation. someone has finally and explicitly attacked these people.

i was thinking about how 'the idiots' in the program seemed genuinely retarded, and maybe that was wrong, but remember brooker associates these people exactly with the cow-proles, the sole difference being these guys have got more money, which they think makes them cool and special. or maybe they thought it was cool to adopt the manerisms of the brain-dead (except barley himself, who appears to be modeled on that goateed pillock out of the office with the unfunny stage show. and yes, i know his name, but i don't feel qualified to use it). i didn't notice barley staring at ms. ashcroft's chest enough. and that dan - the 'outsider' character - wasn't even that likeable was a nice touch. you don't have to have anyone to sympathise with. read more of my opinions on this

and what the fuck has happened to

anyway, happy garden day



the genius of julie keller


"hi grilly. Paul is coming down to see me tonight, wanna come to pub with us?"
I am not sure if paul is even coming. he's got a nasty habit of turning me down. i'll let you know a bit later."
"the fucker is not coming down anyway. just stupid of me to think he'd come and not mess it up."

at which point, i invited her round with promise of "tea and conversation". and what a lovely evening we had.
street fighter2 pics 'are in the post', in my imagination.


sorry for whining yesterday. today was much better. i fink my feelings for certain person are emotional hallouncinations brought about by lack of stimulation, as happens when deprived of sight.
the band war seems to be going okay, with colourmap responding to my rallying cry :

[quote]Jazz McSmooth

Feb 9th, 2005 - 5:48 PM
Re: band war - the Map vs. rebessica

You are utterly, completely insane. [/quote]
post your thoughts on the thread.
my last two assignments have been quite easy, especially for a course titled 'computability and complexity'; the music technology course rocks; i 'finished' the overdubs on the guitar piece that is, like everything else i've been working with, ages old; and as i finished my work at a reasonable hour, i went to the london unity with thom and played a couple of open mike songs (love and that joke isn't funny any more). and i told the girlfriend/bus joke. and everything was fine.


the best of the smiths

things were going quite nice, did you know that? i got a good mark back, i had a lovely birthday weekend, got some craking presents - the cutest cuddly lion (that i was whining about in co-op for ages) who i've called Beano or Rothko or something from laurence, a large-print Zola book from jess, a comic from a local drunk-obsessive from joel, gelt from the family and the well-tempered clavier and a russ conway cd from dan. i've never had any piano music to listen to before, and hofstadter goes on about bach so much and the 24 preludes and fugues series on bbc2 late night was great, and thank you very much (oh and whiskey from tom), and i had to go and spoil it all by trying to start a band fight with colourmap. i always take these things too far, and i got 'the worry' when i thought they might have read it and taken offence. they read it, look they say 'stop it grilly!' on their site. the worry got worse. i re-read the post and realised i hadn't really gone to far (had i?). all in jest. memories of russell preston ringing me up and asking what my problem was after i sent an email around taking the piss out of him, going back even further to trying to throwing a stick over my mums head, and hitting her just below the eye, and you think it'll be funny but when you do it it really isn't.

anyway, so it's freds vs. hermans, or mr. bungle vs. red hot chilli peppers all over again (and we know who won that one).

the situation may be exacerbated by the fact that for some reason, i no longer have any links to them. why would i do that? more fuel on the fire though.

have you noticed the difference between 'bodge' and 'botch'?

i've been synthing up recently, too. that's been good. i did a piece but it's too big to fit on geocitie's STUPID 5MB upload limit, and it's not worth putting on my real mp3 page.

i made a witty reference to fermat's last theorem in my computability and complexity class today. i think the tutor got it. thinking back, it's also not worth putting online. sheesh.

maybe i'm not worth putting online.

there's a person, too. i have these difficult feelings. i can't tell if i just want to fancy them, and i need something to fill the void of a simple batchelor life by pretending to have some aspirations, or if i really do like the person but my fear is buckling the feelings. i'm such an emotional cripple. i keep telling myself to medidate and clear my mind and then i'll know. but i won't.
and then i wake up and walk around a bit and then i think of them and wonder, does the time it takes for them to occur to you in the morning indicate how much you love them?

i think rothko is fucking with my head.


i have a bed!

that's it. that's all i'm saying today. my room finally feels like a place of my own.

ok, i lied. because this is funny.


some music news.

more on 'pain necessary to know': “an intelligent use of pain in music!”, aiming for late spring;
zabrinski's new record is 'finished and mastered', and they 'should have a release date pretty soon';
garden's debut e.p. is out on valentines day;
it's true, mclusky are no more;
dan out of f-ther of boon left me this message.

a couple of comments on previous posts;

the party is fancy dress, if you please. the rather loose theme is 'comics, cartoons, and record sleeves'. do your best.
owners of womansour may have noticed that it was exactly a year old on sunday.
and fucking around with my guitar caused it to not work intermittantly. so don't do it, kids!