Event: Catch the Synthi 100 streaming live

It’s iconic, and so are the people playing it. Don’t miss your chance to see and hear the Synthi 100 in action.

By Alex Parade

So you’ve heard about the Synthi 100, right? Its role in creating sound effects for Doctor Who? How highly it’s revered by musicians. The University of Melbourne’s role in restoring one of the few remaining models?

But have you heard it in action?

Next week, one of a few original Synthi 100s in the world to have been brought back to its original condition will be in full flight, in a visual and sonic performance to be streamed globally from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music website.

The unique online event will showcase new interactive works and feature live performances on the Synthi 100 by the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music’s Interactive Composition staff David Haberfeld, Anthony Lyons and Mark Pollard. The performance will get underway following a talk by Tonmeister Les Craythorn who, while working at the Faculty, spent many months restoring the vast modular synthesiser in 2014 and 2015.

Tonmeister Les Craythorn and the Synthi 100 in 2015. 

Head of Interactive Composition at the Melbourne Conservatorium Mark Pollard describes the Synthi 100 as “a time-travelling machine for making beautiful noise. It’s big, iconic and oh-so-rare to see in the wild! Its huge collection of knobs, plugs, panels and levers will forever be the symbol of hardcore sci-fi sound.”

The live-streamed event, he said, would give viewers the opportunity to “witness the Synthi 100 in its true laboratory and sci-fi experiment state. It will be dramatically poked, prodded and sampled by a group of crazy interactive composition sonic scientists. With a bit of luck, they won’t vaporise the planet in the process … at least we hope not!”

Lecturer David Haberfeld – who knows a thing or two about synthesisers – says it would be hard to sum up the Synthi 100 in any kind of stream-of-consciousness way, but gave it a red-hot crack in any case:

“Synthesizer; Analogue; Weird; Science fiction; Rare; 23 oscillators; Heritage-listed; Matrix patchboard; Musique Concrete; Electronic Music Studio; BBC Radiophonic Workshop; Doctor Who; Filters hmmmmmmm; Stevie Wonder; Stockhausen; Delia Derbyshire; Peter Zinovieff; Tristram Cary; David Cockerell; Digital sequencer; University of Melbourne; Interactive Composition; Lesley Craythorn; Melodia; Meat Beat Manifesto; Sea Devils; Aphex Twin; Soulwax; Radio Belgrade; Sirius; 1971; Billy Corgan; Eduard Artemyev; Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel; Wolfgang Dauner …”

Synthi 100 Live connects to the Grainger Museum exhibition Synthesizers: Sound of the Future. It will stream globally from 3–4.30pm AEST on Wednesday 16 May. The performance begins at 3.30pm, after a pre-concert talk by Les Craythorn. You can watch and hear the concert live on the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music website.

Listen live

Banner image: Mark Pollard, Anthony Lyons, Les Craythorn and David Haberfeld get wired in to the Synthi 100. By Giulia McGauran.