I stuck contact mics onto a bunch of different plates and vessels and put them out on the rain. I like this sound so much that I’m tempted to make a permanent installation that I can plug in whenever it rains. Inspired by Quintron’s Singing House, which I spent a lot of time listening to last year.
This is the last day of Instrument-a-day 2012. Thanks for following along! I’ll be giving a talk about the project at Dorkbot NYC next Wednesday, March 7th, and performing with Andrea Williams, Dan Joseph, and the Glass Bees in Brooklyn on Saturday the 10th.
Turning the click-clack of an old wind up motor into MIDI time code to control the playback of a recording. (I’ll try it on with a video next!)
(Inside the box, the wind up motor has a flapping arm that interrupts a light beam. Each clack of the motor generates a MIDI SPP command which tells the computer how far / fast to move through the recording.)
That harpsichord bit at the beginning kind of sounds like Dead Can Dance, no?
An IR decoder plugged into an Arduino intercepts codes transmitted by remote controls. Simple software uses the manufacturer code to choose a MIDI channel, and the button code to choose a note. It plays a single percussive note for remote codes it can’t understand, like the Bose.
That synthesizer is 25 years old, and the NAD remote control probably almost the same. Continue reading →
I think the membrane pipe is a relatively recent invention. I’m not sure who came up with it, but there’s a lot of nice examples on youtube. Here’s a how-to video. I should have watched that video before making this thing, which is my first attempt at a membrane pipe.
I didn’t make any effort to tune it – I just drilled holes approximately where my fingers could reach, and that not very accurately. You can see my hands straining in the video.
My favorite form of circuit bending, because it’s the easiest, is what I call circuit starving: stick a potentiometer into the battery connection so you can turn down the voltage until the circuit has just barely enough power to work. That’s where interesting stuff starts to happen.
You don’t need to open the toy’s case, solder, or cut anything for circuit starving. Make a sandwich with a piece of paper between two scraps of aluminum foil attached to the leads of the potentiometer. Insert it between one of the batteries and its spring contact, and the potentiometer becomes part of the power circuit. Then you can tweak the pot, in very tiny increments, until the weirdness happens.
I’ve been wanting to try this since I met Cracked Ray Tube at the Guthman Competition last week. All the sounds come from internal noise and feedback in the mixer, with a bit of tweaking from the onboard effects.
The tromba marina is fingered below the bow, creating harmonics by lightly touching the string at the nodes. (I tied little bits of thread at the nodal points to make it easier for me to find them.) The bridge is unbalanced so that it vibrates and rattles against the body, making a buzzing sound. It’s an amazingly weird instrument. I love it, but I can’t really play it.