You might have heard about Novation’s Making Things Easy Day, where staff from all departments at the company HQ — from accounts to R&D — come together to make or improve things, with the focus on making them ‘easy’. Twice a year, we spend a day thinking outside the box, throwing convention out the window, and most importantly, recording our results so we can share our successes and failures at a later recap session. One participant of October 2016’s M.T.E.D was Jerome Meunier, who decided to jump headfirst into the easy pool with one of our synths, and create what he’s called the Bass Station II Thing Explainer.
“In advance of Making Things Easy Day,” recalls Jerome, “I sought the help of Novation’s Head of Innovation Dave Hodder and our Product Design team lead Dan Clarke, to brainstorm a cool project for me to work on. They both know about my love of synths, and also that there’s nothing that makes me happier than helping people understand the amazing world of synthesis! So we came up with the idea to explain a synthesizer using simple words, based on the research of Randall Monroe, the author of the brilliant book Thing Explainer.
It was Dave Hodder who actually introduced me to the book, after he bought five copies to give to friends, colleagues and family members, including me. Basically, in Thing Explainer, Mr. Monroe explains complicated things using blueprint-style drawings and a vocabulary limited to the most common one thousand (ten hundred) words in the English language.”
Jerome’s end result, as you can see for yourself, is an amazingly straightforward explanation of the Bass Station II, stripped of complicated jargon and understandable (to a basic level, at least) to anyone with a decent comprehension of the English language.
“Making things easy is surprisingly difficult,” continues Jerome. “It took some time and effort to describe the various sections of the synth without the tech-specific vocabulary I usually use. During the exercise, I soon realised that 1000 words is not that many!”
Jerome could have chosen from the full gamut of Novation gear for his Thing Explainer project, but he chose the Bass Station II synthesizer (or in Thing Explainer talk: fun noises and tones making box) for its simplicity and straightforward design. “I used the Novation Bass Station II, because it’s a lovely, beasty synth which I love using in my own music production.” But being an all-analogue monosynth, Bass Station II has a straightforward user interface and a very simple layout. “It takes a lot of work to design a product to be easy to use,” says Jerome. “But, as the Futurama quote goes, ‘when you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all!’”
“In this instance, I hope this will help to demystify what a synthesizer is, and get more people into synths; it is really rewarding to know that the customer can enjoy the simplicity of some of our products. While at the first sight you may wonder what all those buttons do and how you could ever understand their functionality, the Bass Station II is actually a very simple little synth while still being versatile, powerful and beautiful sounding.”
in high resolution here.
Words: Chris Mayes-Wright