Don Buchla

Don Buchla
South Gate, CA, USA
Death date
Fields of study


Don Buchla was born on April 17th, 1937 in South Gate, California. He grew up in New Jersey and began experimenting with radio sets at a young age. Buchla received a bachelors degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1959. During his postgraduate work at Berkeley, Buchla began to compose music. One of his early pieces, Cicada Music (1963), uses "approximately 2,500 six-legged performers.” In 1965, composers Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender commissioned Buchla to build a voltage-controlled instrument, the Buchla Box. The box contained a sequencer module, which allowed the composer to repeat music tracks, which increased the possibilities of automated music performances.

From 1970 to 1971, Buchla was director of the California Institute of the Arts, where he designed music composition software as well as electronic instrumentation. He constructed several music studios for universities, including Stony Brook University and the Norwegian Center for Electronic Music.

In the 1990s, Buchla's attention turned towards MIDI controllers, and consulted for various instrument companies.

Buchla died on September 16th, 2016.