Macumbista Modular

The only true wisdom lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and it can be reached only through suffering. Privation and suffering alone can open the mind of a man to all that is hidden to others.

—Inuit shaman Najagneq, recorded by Knut Rasmussen

If you want to build a modular, my advice is not to do it if you want to have any friends, it takes too much time.

—Jessica Rylan

The Macumbista Modular (2008-present) is a self-built modular analog synthesizer which reinterprets and hybridizes the forms and functions of the Serge and Buchla systems of the 1960-70s. Many of the sounds produced by the synthesizer result from a process of non-linear feedback between the eight oscillators, and my live performance is often about making interventions into this feedback loop, to destabilize it and allow new chaotic patterns to arise and develop.


2 x Dual Thomas Henry XR-2206 Voltage Controlled Oscillators (Bugbrand PCB layouts, self-etched)
Bipolar 4×4 DC Matrix Mixer (Ken Stone CGS 33 & CGS 04 PCBs)
6 channel passive attenuator (banana plugs in, large jack plugs out)


2 x Dual Thomas Henry XR-2206 Voltage Controlled Oscillators (Bugbrand PCB layouts, self-etched)
Super-Psycho Modulation Source (Ken Stone CGS 21)
Wave Multiplier (Ken Stone CGS 29)
Two channel DC Mixer (three inputs per channel, large jack outputs)(more CGS 04 PCBs)


2 x Synthacon Voltage Controlled Filters (Marc Bareille PCBs)
2 x Polivoks Voltage Controlled Filters (Marc Bareille PCBs)
Blank Panel (singlewide)
Dual Voltage Controlled Slope + Analog Logic (Ken Stone CGS 75, 26 and 04 PCBs)

NEWER STUFF (In order of construction)

Analog Multiplier (Macumbista)
Prototyping Module (Macumbista)
Dual Serge 1973 Voltage Controlled Filter (CGS)
Dual Active Real Ring Modulator (CGS)
Quad Joystick Controller (Macumbista)
Quad Resonant Lopass Gate 292 (Buchla/T. White)
Digital Noise & Smooth/Stepped Generator (CGS/Serge)
Dual #3 Standard Wogglebug (G. Richter)
VC Timegen/Divide-by-N Comparator/Pulse Divider/Boolean Logic (CGS/Serge)
Analog Shift Register/Rungler/Digital Noise (CGS/R. Hordijk)

Besides most of the PCBs, I’m really committed to making every part of this thing with my own hands. Some people in the synth DIY scene send their front panels out to get professionally etched and anodized. I’m not really concerned with having the “professional look”, partly for financial reasons, and partly because it’s really important to be able to rapidly prototype things, get them in the case and make some fucking noise. The fact that it looks handmade separates it from all that store bought crap that people don’t have any clue what goes on inside of anyways.

I may make pages for each of the individual modules, if there is enough interest. To see all blog postings related to synthesizers, click here.

Some photos showing how the case folds for transport: