Serge Modular Music System
In the early 70's Serge Tcherepnin began to design and build synthesizers while teaching at California Institute of the Arts. Before long, other professors, students, and musicians became interested in these new synthesizers. Serge set up an odd manufacturing arrangement where interested people paid $700 up front for parts, then worked for him building modules. When done, they were rewarded with a six-panel system of their own.
A few different methods of panel marking were tried, and the one settled on for some of the early units was to print (photocopy?) the panel markings onto a piece of paper, one per module. These were then stuck on the 17" x 7" aluminium panels that were pre-drilled with a grid of 1" (5 HP) centre to centre spaced holes, irrespective of whether all holes would be needed. The top edge of these pieces of paper folded over on to the back of the panel, and contained brief markings to help wiring the jacks of the module in question to its circuit board. All of the pieces of paper were then covered over with a single piece of adhesive mylar film or "Contact" type book covering film.
Unlike other synthesizer systems with components designed to control the basics of musical sounds, such as pitch, duration, amplitude envelope, timbre. The intent of the Serge system is that the electronics speaks for itself. It makes interesting (although "un-musical") functions such as positive slew, negative slew, peak and trough, comparators, processors, wave shapers, etc. available . Typically Serge modules are multipurpose, e.g. the Serge TKB is a touch activated keyboard, analogue programmer and sequencer, while the Serge Universal Slope Generator can serve as an envelope generator, slew processor, LFO, VCO, frequency divider, lowpass VCF, trigger/gate delay, or envelope follower.
Serge uses banana jacks for patching. The Serge connector color scheme is more about the type signal than its function but with some flexibility e.g. some CVs can go negative. Many black inputs are AC coupled, but most black outputs are not.
|Trigger pulses in/out||red|
|Bipolar CV in/out||black|
|Special functions in/out||yellow , orange , green |
|Sync||purple||Pink noise out on the Animal panel|
- ^ a b Classic Serge (archived) by Ken Stone, 1999, with permission of the author
- ^ a b c Vintage Synthesizers: Groundbreaking Instruments and Pioneering Designers of Electronic Music Synthesizers by Mark Vail, Backbeat Books, 2000, ISBN 0879306033
- ^ What and Why Paperface?, coa-modular, 3 Jun 2012
- ^ Foreword by Serge Tcherepnin, A guide to the Euro-Serge Modular Synthesizer by Laurie Biddulph.
- ^ Serge Maintenance Info, Muff Wiggler forum, Nov 2010
- ^ If you could color code your inputs...., Muff Wiggler forum, Apr 2010
- ^ Introduction to the use of the Serge Modular Music System, 1976, p. 14
- ^ Serge Fans FAQ
- ^ Serge Guidebook by Rich Gold.
- ^ a b Best of CGS Build Thread, Muff Wiggler forum, 1 Jul 2011
- ^ The Serge "Animal" - a massive modular in 4U
- A guide to the Euro-Serge Modular Synthesizer by Laurie Biddulph, in eight parts. Updated and expanded from An introduction to the Serge Modular Music System by Rich Gold with Darrel Johansen and Marina LaPalma.
- Egres – The unofficial Serge web site
- Carbon111's Serge Modular Index
- Serge Modular Music System information collated by Ken Stone
- Buchla, EMS & Serge forum on Muffwiggler
- COA (archived)
- Serge synthesizer, Wikipedia
- Serge Series 79 catalogue
- An early Serge catalogue
- Serge modular owners group
- Original Serge kit instructions
- Serge graphic symbols, Introduction to the use of the Serge Modular Music System, 1976, p. 14