Minsheng Workshop Polyphony: The Shape of Sound – Design of Synthesizer & Sound


Minsheng Workshop



Han Han

Polyphony is a term of sound synthesis, which means multi-part chorus. And it is the same situation of sound artistic creation in nowadays China, as “sound art”, “serious electronic music”, “MIDI music” and “experimental music” and other music types are developing simultaneously, the boundaries among which have been mingled and transformed into new definitions and possibilities. This program aimed to share the audience with this kind of diversity.

Can the sounds and timbres in our mind be performed by a certain kind of musical instrument?
The answer might be: a synthesizer.

Dr. Sheldon was playing the theremin in American TV series The Big Bang Theory (Season 4 Episode 12)

What is synthesizer? It is one of the most important products in the development of musical instruments and acoustic technique in 20th century. In early 20th century, theremin, the first electronic musical instrument in human history, laid the foundations for synthesizer. The performers no longer need to rely on physical vibration for their performances, instead, what they need is simply let the metal antennas of theremin to sense the relative position of their hands and control oscillators for pitch and volume.  

Don Buchla and his cool musical instruments in 1960s

After that, the French ondes martenot adds on a visible keyboard to its oscillator and can be performed by sliding a finger ring controlled by metal wires. In this case, there has been somehow a kind of compromise in control between keyboard instruments and electronic instruments, which has thus attracted more and more performers playing traditional musical instruments to perform electronic instruments and compose electronic music as well. However, Don Buchla, master of electronic music, had never been willing to confess that his use of both black-and-white keyboard and his Modular Electronic Music Systerm actually expressed his attitude of electronic music composing.


Since the 1960s, with the mass production of small-sized synthesizers by MOOG Music Inc. and the emerging of such labels as KORG and ROLAND, electronic music system that was originally expensive has appeared in the studios of amateur players. And the popularity of the portable inexpenive synthesizer as Roland-TB303 has led to the unique electronic sonic culture in the past several decades. 

On-site performance of GOOOOOSE (Han Han)

As an important tool of design of musical instruments and sounds, how does synthesizer influence and transform the developing process of music? In this workshop, the leader of Duck Fight Goose Han Han introduced the history and instructions of synthesizer and invited the audience to experience the sounds of this musical instrument.

Content of Workshop
  1. Early Age: East coast and west coast synthesis in 1960-80s
  2. Mid-term: Digital synthesizer and synthesizer in popular culture in 1980-2000s
  3. Present: return of synthesizer from 2000 to now
  4. Basics of sound synthesis: frequency, timbre and loudness
  5. Shape of sound: addition, subtraction, physical modeling and FM synthesis in oscilloscope
Polyphony Series
  • 3 June: Lecture
    China Soundscapes
    Wandering at the Crossroads – Sound Improvisation and Noise Experiments
    ​​​​​​​Digital Space and Hearing the Truth
  • 4 June: Sharing session of sound artists
  • 10 June: Lecture
    Women’s Voice for Art
    Sound Meditation and Rituals of Contemporary Sound Art
  • 15 July: Workshop
    The Shape of Sound: Design of  Synthesizer & Sound

Play Rec - the cutting edge sound art & electronic music label from China

About the Speaker

Han Han is the chief leader of Duck Fight Goose, the most famous experimental rock/electronic music band in mainland China. He is also the founder of independent music label Miniless Recordings. His music is a harmonic combination of different styles such as electronic music, ambient music and math-rock. And Gooooose is his personal music project which likes his own space of reflection. Han is currently living and working in Shanghai. His recent performances include Boiler Room project (Shanghai section) in 2016 and RATATAT China tour performance (Shanghai section) in 2016.