Dewanatron folk synth-struments

Dewanatron folk synth-struments

Leon and Brian Dewan of Dewanatron demonstrate the Dual Primate Console, a decidedly unique 2-player instrument capable of some very interesting percussive sequences –

Each side of this instrument is operated by one primate. Each side has identical controls, except for a single tempo control on the side.

The lower manual contains four synthesizers with four independent ADSR envelope generators. Interlocking rhythmical elements can be generated by dialing numbers into a voltage reservoir, then assigning this number to any of four electronic counters on the upper manual. If the number 8 is dialed into the reservoir and assigned to each of the four synthesizers on the lower manual, the machine will distribute the four sounds across eight pulses produced by the internal clock. The counters can hold separate numbers, so the machine can play any number up to 16 against any other number.

There are four horizontal rows of knobs and switches on the lower manual: two employ pairs of frequency modulating oscillators, the other two filtered noise. The upper manual has its own envelope generator and filter to shape sounds from external sources, and is played with push buttons that allow the internal clock to trigger it.


About a year ago I had the pleasure of observing a performance by the talented Dewanatron duo, wherein they demonstrated a few instruments from their very awesome collection. As you can derive from the above example it was a highly enjoyable event for a synth-DIYer like myself. The Dewan’s instruments combine warm tones of analog electronics with fine aesthetics of handcrafted wood enclosures. Their description of their work as “Folk Synthesizers” seems to sum it up best –

Now that manufactured instruments that are mass produced have long outnumbered hand made instruments, the latter have been classified as folk instruments. The purpose of this is to elevate the status of mass produced objects above that of the folk object, which is generally considered to be of inferior quality. Of course folk instruments, being unstandardized, have a freedom of range in form, character, choice of materials and quality of workmanship that mass produced objects can only dream about.

Very very well put – Dewanatron

2 thoughts on “Dewanatron folk synth-struments

  1. subVert says:

    I’d like to see a dewanatron battle. This looks like some kind of bar game.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).