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Motiejus Bazaras

 (Kaunas University of Technology)

Lithuanian synths ARGO A1 and Stringas from the ’80s: the symbiosis of an artist and an engineer in the grip of the Soviet Regime.


After the self-immolation of Romas Kalanta in 1972, the Soviet repressive apparatus tried to restrict access to ideologically hostile Western rhythmic music. There is a lack of information and access to recordings, instruments, sound systems, mixing consoles, and effects. The entire Soviet musical instrument industry is appalling. To realize musical ideas, the common practice is to improve or build instruments oneself. This problem is even more revealed in prog-rock and electronic music along with the rise of the synthesizer. New timbres are stirring the imagination of composers both in the West and behind the Iron Curtain, where the synthesizer is a pipe-dream. The only and most complicated way to acquire it – is through construction. The result of a collaboration of engineer Orūnas Urbonas and composer Giedrius Kuprevičius are two instruments: the monophonic synth ARGO A1 and the polyphonic synth Stringas. Stringas is based on popular western string machines, but the monophonic ARGO A1 is the unique design of O. Urbonas. The result is an instrument with a wide range of modulation possibilities, thus approaching the architecture of modular synths. In this paper, we will demonstrate the capabilities of these synths and will compare them with Moog Minimoog Model D, ARP Odyssey,  Korg MS-20, and others.

Short biography

Dr Motiejus Bazaras is a pianist of versatile profile. He won and achieved high results in almost 20 international piano competitions. Motiejus is also interested in expanding his role specialization as a piano and keyboard player of various music styles. All his experience playing with various bands and also arranging and creating music encouraged a subject for his artistic credo – to develop conciliation between different music cultures for a better musical result.