NICK'S WORLD OF SYNTHESIZERS

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Analogue Synthesizer
THE BEAST
Polyphonic Synthesizer
THE HARMONICON
Optical Synthesizer
OSCILLOSCOPE
Spring Reverb
THE SPRINGATRON 3000
String Resonator
THE STRING RESONATOR
The Intuitive Sequencer
THE INTUITIVE SEQUENCER
Valve Filter
VALVE FILTER
Plate Reverb
PLATE REVERB
The Machine
THE MACHINE
My First Synthesiser
MY FIRST SYNTHESIZER
Noise Generator
THE SQUARE
Noise Generator
CHAOS ENGINE

I have been making electronic musical instruments for about 10 years. With all my inventions I am trying to make something special that you can't buy anywhere. Some people spend thousands of pounds on rare analogue stuff, I spend hundreds of hours making my own and end up with something that is unique not just rare.

I start with an idea that comes to me in an instant and then design it roughly on paper. If it is a good idea then I become so obsessed with owning it for real that I spend months slaving away in my bedroom and actually make it.

I mainly use analogue electronics to build my instruments. I think that the analogue sound is timeless because of its infinite depth and character. I believe that analogue synthesizers should be progressive and not seen as retro.

I was originally inspired by the very early synthesizers like the Trautonium or the Ondes Martenot, they were created at a time before the idea of the synthesizers became too fixed. I am not interested in recreating the classic synths from the 60s and 70s.

My future work

In recent years we have become aware that there is something special about analog sound processing, because we can hear it in contrast to digital sound. I am interested in widening this gap by increasing analogueness, or as I prefer to think of it as a kind of intangible life like quality. I have started to believe that the character of analogue sound has a lot to do with chaos theory and that progression with analogue circuits is to find similarities to natural chaotic systems and to design my circuits that nurture complex behaviour, rather than the traditional approach which is to suppress imperfections to get the circuit to behave like some mathematical ideal.

The way I want to do this is to make circuits that behave in a holistic way, each part of the system is influencing everything else. Think of a violin and how interconnected every element is. Is it a coincidence that the sound of the violin is so rich and complex despite being so simple in it's construction. For an opposite example think of a church organ, physically complex but each element is isolated, and the sound is comparatively boring. My older, more naive designs were created more in the spirit of the church organ. They relied on the brute force of complexity and were over engineered. I am now going to use fewer elements, but with more interaction between the elements. Circuits using discrete transistors, or even better valves, tend to have this holistic behaviour.

For future work I see the violin as my inspiration, not literally however, I am not planning to make some kind of violin synthesizer, I just want to come close to it's complex life like qualities using electronics.