How A Music Futurist Composes The Future

February 3, 2016

DIGHTON, Mass. Dr. Richard Boulanger, a professor of electronic music and design at the Berklee College of Music, lives in a big new house in the woodsy suburb of Dighton. For an avowed futurist, his dwelling is deceptively conventional: plain, spacious, outfitted in soft wall-to-wall carpeting and unremarkable save for the wooden treble clef mounted unobtrusively on the clapboards of the front wall.

Unremarkable, that is, until you enter Boulanger’s studio on the second floor of the house. In another, less interesting reality, the room would be home to a guest bed or crib, but Boulanger’s babies are of the decidedly non-human variety. They are analog synthesizers, stacked nearly to the ceiling, a riot of knobs and wires and blinking blue lights. Guitars hang next to picture frames, a large keyboard stands in front of a bookshelf, and three computers — a desktop and two laptops — dominate the big hardwood desk. This is not the sleek white Apple-store vision of the future, but something altogether Doctor Whovian in its sensibilities, as enamored with the past as with the future’s mind-boggling possibilities.

Boulanger opens up a small closet to reveal stacks upon stacks of classic ‘70s synthesizers. They unleash a cacophony of buzzes and chirps and zaps, “kind of classic, wild, electronic music,” he says. “Soundscapes or sound textures that you might hear in a film or TV show.”

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