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Serial Sound Structure Generator (1966-1970)

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The 1967 Serial Sound Structure Generator is here demonstrated by Dave Rocheleau, Le Caine's assistant

The prototype Serial Sound Structure
Generator was built in 1967. The panels
at the right controlled separate series of
durations and pitches, while tone colours,
chorus and other effects were controlled by the left panel.

The prototype Serial Sound Structure Generator was built in 1967. It was designed to extend the concept of twelve tone serial music to all characteristics of musical sound: pitch, duration, attack and timbre.

Four types of module were designed, each to serialize one aspect of the sounds and store from four to thirteen values which would repeat automatically. The settings could be altered as the instrument was playing.

The pitch module was particularly interesting because it played the series in forward, backward, inverted and backward-inverted modes. It could also transpose to any starting pitch and had an adjustable portamento. It was equipped with a high quality voltage-controlled oscillator designed by Dave Rocheleau.

The instrument as a whole was a complex analogue memory and switching device, the forerunner of the simplified "sequencer" which was a feature of the analogue synthesizers of the 1970's.


Below:

  • Inside the Serial Sound Structure Generator
  • The Serial Sound Structure Generator at Expo 67
  • The Serial Sound Structure Generator at McGill University

 


Inside the Serial Sound Structure Generator

 

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An internal view of the Serial Sound Structure Generator
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A close-up view of one of the modules of the Serial Sound Structure Generator


The Serial Sound Structure Generator at Expo 67

An expanded version of the Serial Sound Structure Generator was displayed at Expo 67 in the Jeunesses Musicales pavilion. Here Le Caine demonstrates the instrument as it was displayed.
A close-up view of the instructions for visitors to Expo 67

Hugh Le Caine with the Serial Sound Structure Generator which was displayed at Expo 67 in Montréal, Québec

It was equipped with headphones and a tape delay system, so that visitors to the pavillion could operate the system themselves. It proved to be a very popular exhibit


The Serial Sound Structure Generator at McGill University

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A close-up of the painted panel on the McGill Serial Sound Structure Generator.

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A close-up view of one of the racks of modules making up the McGill Serial Sound Structure Generator.

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The Serial Sound Structure Generator installed at the Faculty of Music, McGill University in Montréal, Québec.


All rights reserved/Tous droits réservés, © Gayle Young, 1999
Photographs courtesy of the Music Division of the National Library of Canada.
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