Skip to content

Viaggio di Marconi

2012 November 15
by honcho

The Viaggio di Marconi

The Viaggio is the second electronium I built. I was inspired by the wooden box that now contains it.  (it contained a Yuletide gift of chocolates!) (life is like a box of them, you know!) It has a rather ersatz reproduction of a renaissance world map on it. After we ate the chocolates , of course  (Mabuse Manor abides no fools!)  I found that I liked the color of the wood and the stylized map and started placing some of the vintage knobs I’d scavenged over the years on it, just because they looked cool. Before long, I started putting circuitry ‘under the hood’ and one thing just sort of led to another.

Unlike many of my electroniums, it is patchable. I used normalled jacks that pre-patch it (like a an Arp 2600) . Here is a  list of  its ‘modules’ (I also included a block diagram at the bottom of this article)

 [audio sources:]

A very idiosyncratic VCO based on a pair of phase-locked loops.

An octave divider with a range deeply into sub-audio

A theremin-controlled oscillator

A VC+manually-tuned FM radio


[audio processors:]

An AM modulator

A VC-waveshaper

A multi-mode, resonant, diode-ladder VCF

7 VCA’s

A 6-input mixer


[control voltage sources:]

2 theremin-style antenna-proximity controllers

2 LFO’s

A sample-hold normalled to use the FM radio output as it’s source




No exposition of the Viaggio would be worth reading without mentioning the musician who has adopted it and worked toward a true mastery of it. Venus Slick is a musician, painter, wife (of the incomparable Tory Starbuck) , and mother (of Eno Roedelius Starbuck) , and the only living virtuoso on this instrument. She manages to do all these things with great insight and beauty. She is also tall.

I tend to eschew labeling knobs, so none of my electroniums can be said to be terribly accessible. In spite of this, Venus has developed a very formidable technique on it. She adamantly claims that her initial attraction to it was the smell of  new polyurethane. Go figure…(She’s a painter!).  I left it with her after a rehearsal in 2002 and I now sometimes have to resort to bribery to retrieve it from her house, if I want to play it.

It’s just as well.

No one, including myself, can do what she does with it. Words fail me when I try to do justice to her mastery of it despite it’s (myriad) quirks.

Fortunately Eric Wilkinson captured some intimate footage of her technique in a couple of his videos of performances by the Tory Starbuck project.

Click the images to access the video clips.





Viaggo Block diagram:

Comments are closed.