Don Buchla was among the most influential engineers in the early development of electronic music. His Buchla 100 was used by a long list of electronic composers who wanted to explore the sounds that were possible on this instrument. That list includes Morton Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros, and Gladys Krenek. In later years, his instruments were explored by a new generation of composers such as Suzanne Ciani. Along the way, Don continued to create units that inspired artists to make reality what was only in their minds and imagination.
I met Don at the first NAMM Show I attended (see photograph), yet it took me another ten years to finally talk him into an interview. By that time, I'm proud to say, we had become friends. In 2011, when that interview finally took place, I had placed a full-page advertisement in the show directory. The ad had a photo of Don saying he was wanted for an interview and whoever got Don in front of my camera was entitled to a steak dinner. Throughout that show, dozens of people stopped by his booth saying they wanted the free dinner but it was Don who showed up to my meeting room on the last day of the show. When I asked if I could mail him a gift card for the dinner he said, "Let's have the steak dinner together." And so we did!
Don passed away on September 14, 2016.
Ironically, Don was the 500th interviewee to pass away. This larger number is a sad milestone but also a reminder of the significance of capturing these important stories, which do become priceless.
I miss you Don.
Dan Del Fiorentino
NAMM Music Historian