Elektrosluch and Stereo Microphones

Listening to electromagnetic radiation around the house using a homemade elektrosluch.

I was cleaning up, and found an “elektrosluch” that I made a few years back, and figured I’d dust it off and make sure that it still works. This is a device designed by LOM-Instruments that converts the vibration electromagnetic fields into sound (specifically vibrations of voltage that we can listen to through headphones, more info here ).

Make your own with this DIY article.

Commodore 64 French House

Making some chiptune French house using the Commodore 64 and Alesis 3630.

C64 French House

Here, I’m using Paul Slocum’s CynthCart to turn my old C64 into a SID synthesizer. We run those licks into an Alesis 3630 compressor, side-chained to a kick drum (from an Alesis D-4), and then we have some pumping French house. Finally, we add some finishing touches with delay, reverb, and EQ in Logic Pro, as well as a cameo by an Electrix Warp Factory hardware vocoder.

Download the track here for free

More Commodore 64 sounds:

Adding “Analog Warmth” to Your Digital Synth (Reaktor 6 Primary)

Some ideas on how to add some beautiful (analog?) imperfections to your Reaktor synths in Reaktor Primary.

The definition of “analog warmth” is pretty nebulous, but it brings to mind things like tube distortion and tape saturation–imperfections to the “fidelity” of the sound. Digital sound has imperfections too, of course, but these are aesthetically different (though perhaps no less interesting). In this video, though, I talk about some ideas in how to imitate the imperfections of analog in our digital Reaktor 6 synths.

Reaktor 6 Beginner Tutorials here
More Intermediate Reaktor Tutorials here.

Making a Bad Sine Wave in Pure Data Vanilla

Building a “wab-sabi” oscillator in Pd to celebrate the beauty of imperfection and impermanence.

Sine waves are great! The perfection of a pure, single frequency can be both expressively and technically very useful in pursuing our musical goals. There are, however, lots of musical reasons that we might want to intentionally make our oscillators a little more rough around the edges.

Performance on traditional, acoustic instruments, of course, produces a huge amount of micro-variation across each note, and so it can be expressively engaging for us to be able to introduce that same imperfection (analog warmth?) in our digital instruments as well.

In this video, I build a bad sine wave by frequency-modulating my oscillator with noise, and then feeding back the output back into the modulation. While I build this out in Pure Data, the same can be done in Reaktor, Kyma, Max/MSP or any other synthesis environment.

More Pd Tutorials here.
No-talking Pure Data jams and patch-from-scratch.

0:00 Introduction, The Beauty of Imperfection
1:26 Slider-Controlled Sine Wave
3:28 Adding Noise
4:35 Frequency Modulating with Noise
7:24 Filtering the Noise
8:20 Feeding Back into FM
9:55 I’ve gone too far
13:26 Reaktor Examples
14:18 Closing Thoughts, Next Steps

New Music: “Cybernetics & Feedback”

I’ve released a new collection of pieces, “Cybernetics & Feedback”, available on bandcamp:

Cybernetics & Feedback

Inspired by the cybernetic and feedback works of Roland Kayn, Éliane Radigue, Bebe Barron, and Jaap Vink, and embracing an anything-goes noise music aesthetic, this collection of works from early 2022 explores analog feedback loops and self-regulating patches in Eurorack modular.

In these pieces, audio signals are routed back into themselves, and used to control processes and trigger events. While these are performed improvisations, “performance” in this case does not mean strict control, since these systems influence themselves as much as the performer does.

One of my sketches. I think this is Track 6.

A quick acknowledgement that these noisy soundscapes might not be for everyone. Don’t worry. I won’t be offended.

I do have something a little more crowd-pleasing:

Ambient Chiptune (for Studying)

As a bonus, I’ve put up all the audio tracks from my “Ambient Chiptune” videos as a free/pay-what-you-want download.

(Definitely easier listening on these!)


Lo-Fi Telephone Microphone

Watch me dissect and old phone and repurpose its carbon microphone.

Constructing a lo-fi microphone from an old telephone’s carbon microphone, and seeing what other parts we can make some sounds with.

I got this old phone at Goodwill for a couple bucks, interested in seeing if it had a carbon microphone that I could salvage. It turns out getting that microphone out was a breeze. Then I started seeing what other parts might be interesting–the keypad, the chip that makes DTMF tones. Finally, I put together the circuit for the carbon microphone, and got it back in the handset, adding a new specialty carbon microphone to my mic locker (such as it is).

Circuit Bending Walkthrough

I’ve put together a three-part series on getting started with circuit-bending, from the initial testing and opening up toys to completed alien instrument.

(Part 3 coming next week)

Circuit-bending is the creative customization of consumer electronics with the goal of inventing new unique devices for sound-making, visuals, or other expressive goals. I’m a composer and sound-designer, not an electrical engineer, so my goal is to find fun sounds that I can use in creative ways (rather than any kind of serious circuit design).

For more of my creative electronics projects, check out here:

What does “LoFi” mean?

What is “Lo-Fi Music”? What are the expressive goals of making stuff sound bad? Why are there so many “Lo-Fi beats to study to” videos on this site? Why do they all have 1990’s anime images and video?

In this video I talk about some of the possibilities of how “LoFi” music responds to the hyperreality and commercialism of “HiFi” (literally “high-fidelity”), and what our contemporary interest in LoFi might mean to some artists.