I think it’s time to rethink the temperature compensation measures found in most modular analogue synthesizer systems. Though the work done to stabilize the frequency of oscillators and filters, and the amplitude of envelopes etc. warrants much respect and gratitude to our early modular analogue synthesizer gurus in the Moog era, I feel that we need to question the whole design requirement. We live in an era now as artists where chaotic forces are not evaded but rather relished and encouraged for their richness and depth and mystery. “Extraneous” variables are no longer extraneous but rather the very subject of our interest and inquiry. If we hope to understand the world as a system rather than a set of disconnected linear processes then there are no extraneous variables. They are not irrelevant or unrelated to the subject being dealt with but rather a part of the subject themselves. Thus where not too long ago the electroacoustic artist’s studio featured a linear path between input variables, on one side, sound synthesis modules in the middle, and an output on the other side now we are seeing more and more chaotic systems that feature feedback and interrelations that don’t have distinct inputs and outputs but rather taps, portals into the universes contained within that to this day undo the prowess of Newtonian physics.
For these reasons I’d like to propose a new synthesizer design where rather than eliminating temperature as a variable we may even go so far as to highlight it in our design by thermally connecting the temperature sensitive parts of the circuit to the housing, making the ambient temperature, and the heat generated by the circuitry, and even the placement and temperature of the user’s hands on the housing, key variables in the electroacoustic system. Also rather than a linear in-out flow the design would feature a system of interrelation and feedback through a modulation network rather than matrix, and taps for input and output.
I am happy to report also that such a device would be easier to build and hence proliferate in a growing community of “deep listeners” and Makers. Eliminating temperature compensation greatly simplifies the design process, and eliminates the need for specialized components such as matched transistors. It is conceivable that a circuit could be built strictly from some of the most common parts, available even at RadioShack.