Multi Platform Music System
I recently recorded an album using ONLY the system detailed on this page. I did no overdubbing or computer editing (besides chopping the recordings into song sized pieces). You can listen and download songs or the whole album here.
Below is a video of part of the system shot early 2008.
The project was born in 2002 when I found an industrial, cam shaft, event sequencer pictured below left.
Click here to read a little more about how the sequencer works.
I first started started experimenting with this interface by plugging patch points from a circuit bent CASIO SK1keyboard into the sequencer patch bay. As the cam shaft turned it switched glitches on and off and generated bizarre musical sequences.
Below left is the first edition using the found cam shaft. To the right is a more sophisticated model.
The project was shelved for a few years then revived when I built a much more elaborate model shown below left. I started to explore the potential of controlling several instruments at once as is shown below right.
This picture shows the sequencer controlling my Korg MS20 analog synth, a casio SK1 keyboard and a drum toy.
Here’s a recording of an early experiment utilizing the setup pictured above.
The outcome of controlling modified electronics with a physical sequencer is very bizarre but deliberate sounding. It sounds almost computer sequenced but imperfect in a way that computers seldom are. It has a human sensibility and unpredictability to it as well but again, there’s something off about it.
After making this recording I knew that experimenting with multi platform sound generation and sequence control was a project worth exploring.
The next big step came almost 2 years later when I started building an analog modular synthesizer. You can view details on the synth by clicking on the picture below.
Working in a completely modular format showed me the potential in making all parameters of a sound accessible by external control. One of my main focuses in developing the modular synth has been on building complex clock and sequence sources. Below is a video of the clock divider module which allows for interesting beat generation and sequence timing.
I soon built a switch sequencer to accompany the analog CV sequencer I was using to control the modular synth.
This sequencer is similar to the mechanical cam shaft sequencer in that they both generate a series of on/off connections which can be patched to virtually any electronic device.
The vast improvement this sequencer has on the mechanical one is that it can be programmed on the fly by flipping the rows of switches on and off to create 4 simultaneous patterns.
Below right is a simple drum sound module made to interface with the switch sequencer. The sound generation circuitry was taken from two baby drum toys.
Here’s an interesting sample of the switch sequencer synced to the modular synth and controlling a casio SK1 keyboard.
Next came a heavily modified dual Barbie karaoke machine specially made for interfacing with the switch sequencer.
By patching the points on the Barbie patch bay into the switch sequencer you can use the sequencer to trigger a rhythmic pattern of feedback blips and screeches.
The following sample is a recording of the double barbie and a bass drum synth. Both units are being sequenced by the step sequencer.
Any instrument I build or circuit bend can be controlled by the step sequencer as long as it has a modular patch bay.
The Casio MT240 pictured below is an amazing instrument and can be easily controlled.
Here’s a video of two MT240s synced together.
The latest addition to the system is a series of audio inputs that allow external audio signals to control various parameters of the modular synth. The sample below is from a recording session with Dirty Projector drummer Brian Mcomber.