MATRIXSYNTH: RIP Rob Hordijk - Creator of the Blippoo Box, Benjolin, and Hordijk Modular Systems

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

RIP Rob Hordijk - Creator of the Blippoo Box, Benjolin, and Hordijk Modular Systems

video uploads by Pedro Trotz

"Rob Hordijk explains his modular designs at the European Electro Music Event 2012 that took place at Mallorca - Spain."

Sad news in via an anonymous reader today, who spotted the following from Pedro Trotz on Mod Wiggler. Those of you that have been following the site should be familiar with Rob Hordijk's work through numerous posts on the site. Two of his most famous creations were the Benjolin and Blippoo Box.

"I am deeply saddened to announce that my friend and mentor, Robert Ernst Hordjik, passed away earlier today. He was an important part of my life and I am sure also of many others here. He will be greatly missed.

I first met him in the Chateau Sonore event he organized in Belgium, in July 2007. There, lots of similar souls shared our passion for electronic music and electronic instruments. There was a lot of G2 and modular talk, but also performances, instrument demos, concerts, rehearsals... That's when I first heard of the Blippoo, one of his first creations that made him famous.

A few years later he started his work on the modular system that has his name. I felt so grateful for his initiative in Belgium that I couldn't help but planning a follow-up, this time in Mallorca. This time, our meeting had a lot less participants but it was an even better opportunity to make friendships that will last for a lifetime. I believe that in this meeting, in a trip we made to the north coast of the island, between the mountains of the Serra de Tramontana and the Mediterranean Sea, is when Rob decided that he wanted to retire to Mallorca. I can't blame him. It was the middle of January and we were having a pic-nic on the side of a curvy road facing the sea and enjoying what we natives call "the little summer" which is something that happens from time to time in mid-winter when the sea suddenly calms and temperatures rise up to 20 degrees Celsius.

We had a Benjolin workshop, we talked a lot about his design philosophy, and I was happy to record the first series of videos about his modular System. The ones you can find in my Youtube channel. After that series of videos I asked him to build a modular for me and soon enough he came back to Mallorca to deliver it in person.

During this visits I introduced him to Biyi and they automatically made a great connection. Biyi went a few times to The Hague to assist him in the building of Blippoos and modular systems. He even built his own under Rob's supervision. We all three had the idea to start a company in Mallorca where Rob would make the designs, Biyi build the stuff and I would take care of the business side of things. It was all set-up. As soon as his obligations in the Netherlands were fulfilled he would come to Mallorca. The moment arrived but almost at the same time his illness and COVID made things extra difficult.

In one of our talks he said to me that the Benjolin, the Blippoo and the Modular System were his dearest creations and that he was honored to have made so many people happy with them. Let's honor his memory by using them and making the most beautiful sound imaginable.

Farewell, my friend. I love you." - trotz

The following is from the Synth DIY wiki page on Hordijk.

Born in 1958, self described "synthesizer designer and builder,[3]" Rob Hordijk began learning electronics from around age 12 after developing a fascination with the glowing tubes in stereo amplifiers.[1][4] When he was 14 his father who had noticed young Rob's interest gave him a subscription to an electronics course, which lead to an examination for a ham radio license.

Trained as a designer and not a musician, Rob came from an arts background, studying as a sculptor and jeweler in the 1970s. He approached electronic music in a similar spirit to abstract painting, inspired by the ambient works of Brian Eno, and Luigi Russolo's Intonarumori instruments; where attempts were made to blur the boundaries between music and art:[1]

"In those days I was quite interested in the idea of sound as a material to be sculpted, in the same way you can sculpt wood and metal. [...] You can make mechanical objects that make all sorts of sounds, or you can make electronic objects that make all sorts of sounds. but what I like about the electronic objects is that you don't see what makes the sound. [...] It opens the way to sort of make it a bit mysterious."[1]

In the early 1980s as various integrated circuits, micro-controllers, and processors became available to hobbyists, Rob began buying things such as the early Curtis chips and RCA 1802 based SuperElf processor board out of curiosity more than professional ambition.[1][5] Later switching to an Apple ][+ and the Mountain Hardware Music System, for which he developed a Forth language version that could do all sorts of stuff with the Mountain cards, like KarplusStrong-type plucked string sounds and pitch shifting.[5] His first introduction to a DSP was to the DMX1000 around 1984. In 1986 he switched to Atari ST and an Akai S900.[5] These days he is a Clavia Nord Modular G2 aficionado.[5]

"I am not really a gear freak. But I do believe in mastering synthesis techniques, in making synthesis a second nature, so to be able to fully concentrate on the creative processes."[5]

After finishing art school, Rob also completed 11 years of study in Information Technology, learning about design methods and inventory control.[1] As well as his own instruments Rob worked on the Nord Modular G2 including contributing many patches to the Nord Modular online community, and wrote a comprehensive unofficial manual of the instrument. He has produced music for environments, buildings, film, and dance performances, but is yet to produce an official release on a label.[5] As of 2022 Rob has announced his retirement and will no longer be taking orders.[6]

Design Philosophy
Rob's personal definition of a modular synthesizer is more to do with modulation than modularity; referring to functional modules as 'sections'. Everything is supposed to be able to modulate or effect everything else. All levels within the system are optomised for comparability with one another.[1]

See for more.

Update via brian comnes: Hordijk info on synthesis: - quite in depth.

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