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 ).
Making some chiptune French house using the Commodore 64 and Alesis 3630.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
A quick acknowledgement that these noisy soundscapes might not be for everyone. Don’t worry. I won’t be offended.
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).
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 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.
Since last time, I added MIDI control and transferred things to a smaller circuit board (and Arduino) in order to fit everything back in the original case.
So what does this little synth do? It takes MIDI notes (from a keyboard or DAW), and uses them to trigger the sounds built in to the Intellivoice chip, which, as it turns out, consist of mostly numbers.
Check it out:
I might look into a few more tweaks. Currently, each word will always play to the end, even if another word is performed before it’s finished. I’m not sure if this is a property of the Intellivoice chip, or something I could fix in my Arduino program.
Why pursue a project like this one?
Games and gaming hardware are mass-produced devices with planned obsolescence and few serviceable parts. By “hacking” and customizing gaming hardware we regain personal ownership of these devices, and we can turn obsolete equipment into performable, expressive instruments.
An earlier version of this synth actually appears in the electronics of my new commissioned work, Hirazumi (more about the piece here and here), and I think the hacked Intellivoice fits perfectly into the post-digital, cyberpunk aesthetic.