Synthposium 2016


SAE Institute presented its 2nd annual Synthposium on Monday the 14th of November, 2016 at its Melbourne campus in South Melbourne. Following 2015’s successful evening event, the Synthposium was expanded for 2016 into an all-day academic conference and evening session of workshops, vintage gear demos and jamming.

The academic conference component of Synthposium ran during the day. Synthesizer academics convened from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, US and Italy to examine the question of how synthesizers convey ‘meaning through sonics’. Contributing presenters included keynote speakers Robin Fox (MESS) and Les Craythorn, along with Nino Auricchio, Paul Borg, Warren Burt, Tim Dalton, Ian Dixon, Michail Exarchos, James Gardner, David Haberfeld, Martin Koszolko, David Prescott-Steed and Nick Wilson.

The papers for the Synthposium conference have been published by Cambridge Scholars as Interpreting the Synthesizer: Meaning Through Sonics. Order the publication from Cambridge Scholars.

From the late afternoon onwards Synthposium hosted a series of workshops and demonstrations by leading Melbourne synth practitioners Warren Burt, Joshua Young and Ehsan Gelsi, preceded by a video demonstration from UK synth researchers Paul Borg and Nino Auricchio.

In the evening the Synthposium culminated in a demonstration of vintage gear and an open jam session with hand-on knob-twiddling action. This included the presence of rare 1970s and early 80s synthesizers and other electronic music equipment especially loaned to SAE Institute by collectors and electronic music artists throughout Melbourne for this night only. Equipment for the event included the early 1970s synths the Arp Odyssey and Roland SH1000 along with the late-70s synth the Roland Jupiter-4, the early 80s Roland MC202 and the 1980s Oberheim DX drum machine.

Conference program:

Keynote Address by Robin Fox: My complicated (and often Freudian) relationship to machines and the synth manual as utopian manifesto from Transaudio to the Triadex muse.

James Gardner: Peddling the Putney: Early Adopters and the Marketing of EMS synthesisers

Warren Burt: Microtonal Possibilities of Various iPad Apps

Michail Exarchos: Synth Sonics as Stylistic Signifiers in Sample-Based Hip-Hop: Synthetic Aesthetics from ‘Old-Skool’ to Trap

Ian Dixon: Always Crashing on the Same Synth: Voice/Synth Counterpoise in David Bowie’s Low

David Haberfeld: Exploring Sonic Contexts of the Roland TB-303 Bassline Synthesizer

Keynote Address by Les Craythorn: MIDI in the 80s: a technical master stroke or the regimentation of the analogue creative experience?

Martin Koszolko: Digital Affordances of iOS-based Synthesisers

Tim Dalton: Even Better Than The Real Thing: Synthesizers and the creation of hyper-reality and simulacrum in popular music

Nick Wilson: The synth solo: Rupture in the fabric of recorded music

David Prescott-Steed: Gassing for a Synth: A Self-Reflexive Approach to the Psycho-Social Contexts of Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Nino Auricchio and Paul Borg: Modular Synthesizers and Performance Practice

Workshop programme:

Paul Borg and Nino Auricchio:  Modular Synthesizers and Performance Practice (see video below)

Warren Burt: Compositional Implications of Touch-Screen Technology on Performing with Synthesizers

Ehsan Gelsi: Making Sense of Modular Synthesis

Joshua Young: Synthesis Through Motion

Paul Borg and Nino Auricchio’s workshop presentation on modular synth performance practice:


Nick Wilson introduces the day:
Nick Wilson

James Gardner discusses the history of EMS:
James Gardner

 David Haberfeld warms up his bank of 303s: