How the Global Modular Synth is Mapping the Sounds of the World

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Using sound submissions from over 40 countries, Yuri Suzuki has created the Global Modular Synth to map the music of the world.

Yuri Suzuki is mapping the sounds of the world. For his Global Synthesiser Project he’s created the Global Modular synth. An interactive electronic musical instrument built in collaboration with manufacturer Moog, it can mix 80 environmental sounds from around the planet.

“The idea was to present all of the world’s sound identities,” says the London-based sound artist, 35. “You can sample a bus engine from London [and combine it] with a cave’s acoustics from somewhere else.”

Shaped like the world’s continents, the Global Modular is a 3.2m x 1.67m installation of 30 samplers, ten reverbs, five sequencers and four semi-modular synthesisers, arranged in “countries”.

A selector button, designed as a compass with cardinal points, allows you to set the home sound’s location. Moog designed the software, hardware, rack system, and wooden cases for the modules.

The idea came to Suzuki while travelling. A prolific designer and lecturer at London’s Royal College of Art, Suzuki’s work has been shown at the Tate and MoMA galleries. He’d previously tapped his personal recordings in an earlier project, a globe-shaped record with each country engraved with a sound .

But for the Global Modular, sounds for each country were submitted by artists from around the world. “We’ve received over 500 submissions from 40 countries,” says Moog engineer Eric Church. The Global Modular debuted during May’s Moogfest event in North Carolina.

Suzuki is now in talks to tour the instrument – museums in London, New York and Japan are interested. Suzuki’s big plan: a Global world tour.

Learn more about Moog synthesizers and theremins.

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