It is not that easy to write an introduction for this interview, that copes with Dave Rossum. He absolutely has to be mentioned in the same gasp as synthesizer-pioneers like Bob Moog or Dave Smith.
Thanks to Amazona.de you have the chance to follow Dave’s journey through time within the next 4 weeks and get some very interesting and personal insights to his life.
Peter Grandl / June 2015
Part 1: From biology to modular system
Hi Dave. Let’s start at the beginning. Scott Wedge and you started 1970 with constructing a modular Synthesizer. How did you get the idea for that?
I was an undergraduate studying biology at Caltech in 1969, when some friends decided to form a music group just for fun. One of them, Robert Land, said his dream was to play the synthesizer, but first we had to build one. Our friend Steve Gabriel, a EE major, took the lead on that project.
In the fall of 1970, I began graduate work at UC Santa Cruz, where my advisor, Harry Noller, invited me to join him in the music department where the students were unpacking their new Moog Model 12. Something clicked – by that evening, I was the one teaching them about the synthesizer. I invited my Caltech friends to come see the UCSC Moog in November of 1970, and in late December, I returned to Caltech to visit them. That was when E-mu Systems was born, and we made our first progress in building a real synthesizer. We continued to work together, with me driving down to Caltech when my studies allowed, through the spring of 1971. Over the summer of 1971, the Caltech guys came up to Santa Cruz, where we built our first competent synthesizer, the E-mu 25, a self-contained unit similar in scope and concept to the ARP 2600.
In August of 1971, my high school friend Scott Wedge visited us in Santa Cruz. He, too, caught the synthesizer bug. It was Scott and I that decided that a modular system was what we really wanted to build.