I’ve been playing with mechanical sequencers for a few years. The sequencer allows you to automate things not traditionally automated (like a baby drum toy or speak and spell) and unify traditionally incompatible musical systems(like….. a baby drum toy or speak and spell).
A theme I enjoy working with is strength highlighted by contrast. Connecting two conceptually separate elements into a single unified voice creates a powerful dynamic. The mechanical sequencer is also interesting in it’s imperfections. Each cam is hand made and while it is close to perfect, it’s not perfect. That in conjunction with characteristics of the control motor translates into subtle inconsistencies in the sequence. This pulls the composition away from the glossy computer sequenced alternative.
This project was born in 2002 when I found an industrial, cam shaft, event sequencer pictured below.
I wired up the sequencer to a patch bay interface so I could experiment with using the sequencer to control various devices.
As the cam shaft turns, each cam presses down on a switch. The pattern on the cam determines the rhythmic cycle of switching. Each switch is wired to two patch points on the patch bay. When the switch is pressed it connects the two patch points.
I can use the sequencer to control almost any electronic device by wiring the buttons and switches on that device to patch points. Then I wire those points to the switches of the sequencer.