i8

Crossroad

Over the past few days, I have had daily interactions with one of my mentors. For reasons that will be further explained in this post, I cannot reveal his identity, but let us just say that he is one of the most talented designers of modular synthesizers. When I reached out to him a couple of months ago, he was very skeptical about my project, and politely declined my request for a meeting. After a few more emails from me, he kindly agreed to answer a few questions. What followed was an email exchange during which he fixed many flaws in my design one after the other, while realizing that I knew nothing about electronics, sound synthesis, or music in general. Why he remained engaged over these long email sessions is testament to his extreme generosity and kindness.

During this exchange, my mentor remained largely unconvinced of my unconventional approach to modular synthesis. Eventually, he grew tired of my naiveté, and decided to completely redesign my original proposal for a submodular synthesizer. Some of the original ideas were kept, but the resulting redesign is very far from the initial idea. Furthermore, it is something that he is starting to be intrigued about, and might very well like to play with if it were to exist. Most importantly, it is a design that I believe has amazing potential. This new design is very ambitious. If you thought that my original idea was on the aggressive side, this new one really pushes the envelope, across many dimensions. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think that it can be done, even by someone with significant experience in the field. And for someone like me who has never built any kind of serious hardware, it is nothing more than a pipe dream. And that is precisely why I want to give it a try.

The reason why my mentor does not want his name to be attached to this project is because of its outrageous goals, and the unusual approach that I use to develop it. Instead of starting with a simpler design, I set the bar as high as I can, setting myself up for failure. Doing so makes it look like I disrespect the work of previous designers. It lacks thoroughness and thoughtfulness. It lacks humility. It lacks all the essential skills that make a good engineer. But I never claimed to be an engineer — even though I hold an engineering degree. Instead, I like to view myself as a bit of a maverick who puts himself on the steepest possible learning curve in order to remain outside of his comfort zone. That is my way of trying to stay young and fresh, with a mind always open to radical new ideas. I have the utmost degree of respect for the work done by my forebears, but I deliberately take a different path, hoping that it could help me chart new territories. Along the way, failure is the expected outcome. Nevertheless, I carry on, with the hope of stumbling upon some enlightening discoveries. Therefore, while my mentor’s identity shall remain unknown for as long as he wishes so, it should be said (and remembered) that what might become the ISHIZENO i8 is as much his creation as it is mine.

This new design will be described in further posts…

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