Tag Archives: experimental

Fuzzy Sequencer

By Sailormouth
I have been getting questions about what my pseudo random or fuzzy microcontroller sequencer does, and how it does it. You may remember about 6 months I talked about several kinds of sequencers including the microcontroller sequencer. The concept behind this sequencer is to let it do the work of composing and triggering whatever toys are connected to it. This allows focusing on tweaking the modifications on the toys, and to use a mixer to layer or enhance sounds. The toys have to be prepped with rca jacks to be connected to the sequencer. After this is done the sequencer acts as remote buttons for the toys. The microcontroller is programmed to trigger the buttons in randomly generated patterns. When powered on or reset the code randomly, as random as small digital can be hence pseudo and fuzzy, creates an array of numbers that correspond to the four channels of the sequencer. Then an increment or step size is randomly selected as well as a number of times to repeat moving through the array using that increment size. For example an array of 32 elements might looked like this:
1, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 4, 2, 4, 1, 4, 4, 4, 3, 1, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 4, 4, 4, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 1

If the increment size was 4 and it would repeat this 3 times the pattern would look like this:
1, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 2, <repeat> 1, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 2, <repeat> 1, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 2

If the next randomly selected numbers were 2 and 2 the pattern would be:
1, 4, 1, 2, 2, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 2, 2, 1, <repeat> 1, 4, 1, 2, 2, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 2, 2, 1

This continues to repeat selecting increment and times to loop until the sequencer is stopped. There is no pause or lag between repeats or moving to the next pattern. Up to four different toys can be triggered per channel, and a mixer allows for complimentary or opposing sounds to be synced. Grouping different sounds for each channel is flexible with the rca jacks. At any point sounds can be swapped from one channel to another. The tempo control combined with the duration of sounds triggered can change the over feel of tracks. An ambient sound scape of low end lower pitch growls can easily become an aggressive torrent of unusual unexpected beats.

Depending on the extent of modifications to the individual toys, or not, effects pedals can always be used as well to add something more. In the possibility of having an odd, irregular, or just bad pattern the mixer can be used to try to downplay this. Another option is to use the “soft kill” switch that will complete the pattern of the current loop regardless of how many more times it would otherwise have left to repeat. Then simply press a button to build a new array and begin playing patterns. On the other hand if a good pattern is going a different switch can latch the loop until the switch is thrown back again no matter how many loop repeats were remaining. There are two LEDs to roughly indicate how many times a pattern is going to repeat so that there is an opportunity to latch the loop. All the patterns in a track are a loose free form that is not remembered or reproducible by the sequencer.

drum & dj track one
drum & dj track two


As well as toys being controlled by the sequencer I have made a light box circuit to sync a light show to the sounds. This is not a color organ that responds to frequency or intensity of the actual sounds. It acts like the sounds triggered. When a sequencer channel is active one of four channels in the light box turns on any/all lights connected to that channel. Each light box channel can handle up to 2 amps at 115 volts AC. 40 watt bulbs are plenty bright enough so 5 light fixtures per channel can be used, 20 lights in all. If multiple lights are used they can be placed mixed together or in groups.


Tomorrow, in a Year. The Knife, Mount Sims, and Planningtorock

The Knife and Mount Sims are my favorite electronic artists, so it was insane to hear that they collaborated on Tomorrow, in a Year project with another artist Planningtorock. The music was commissioned by a Danish Theater group for an Opera based on Charles Darwin’s “Origin of the Species”. Tracks evolve much like the life on earth from simple, yet surprisingly experimental and packed full of wonderful low frequencies. To complex orchestral compositions with pounding drum machines you’d expect from Mount Sims and heavy synth lines characteristic of The Knife. Great listening experience with a capable sound sound system or nice headphones. This treasure trove of sounds is completely free for listening online. More information: Here
Entire Album:
Tomorrow, In A Year by Rabid Records
Collaborators explain the writing process:

Experimental Garage Sale 2009, Second Annual!


On Saturday August 08, 2009 come join us for the Second Annual Experimental Garage Sale held at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago, IL from Noon to 8PM. Midwest circuit benders and DIY artists will be unloading piles and piles of thrift store treasures like keyboards, Speak and Spells, and oddity kids toys. The sellers will also be demonstrating and selling LoFi Synth prototypes, kits, handmade contact microphones, and completed circuit bent works of art. Bring wads of cash to snag some awesome deals, otherwise this is a great chance to experience circuit bent devices in person and make new friends.

The list of sellers has been finalized to include a wide geographic variety of Midwestern Artists. Including a very special guest appearance by Reed Ghazala! The man himself will be mingling and signing copies of his Circuit Bending: Build Your Own Alien Instruments Book. Last year’s round up from the event can be found here. Music through out the day and the sale is Free to get in.

GetLoFi.com/shop – Alex Dyba ( IA )
Roth Mobot – Patrick McCarthy ( IL )
Roth Mobot – Tommy Stephenson ( IL )
Creme Dementia – Austin Cliffe ( IL )
Thejunkyard Catalyst – Karl ( OH )
Spunky Toofers – Daniel Park ( MO )
Properboy – Steve Stoll ( IN )
Pelzwik – Nick Heimer ( MN )
Datura 1.0 – Matt Cisler ( MN )
Mike Una – ( IL )

Special Guest: Reed Ghazala! ( OH )

Feel Free to register on Facebook Event Page.

Directions: Google Maps.

Warning Earthlings!

The second gathering of experimental and circuit bending musicians at Madison’s Klinic Bar (520 S. Park St.) is set for this Friday, the 28th of March 2008. The festivities will showcase 6 artists performing for about half an hour during each set. This time around Madison will be taken over by hostile forces…promising to bring an “Out of this world” experience. Visitors include Master Component, featuring Tommy Stephenson of Chicago’s Roth Mobot and his good buddy Willie Nelson on brain scambling guitar. Also beaming in for a visit is Talking Computron (IC, IA), Igloo Martian (LaCrosse,WI), life as number five (Madison,WI), SteveGlitch (Stevens Point, WI), and Albino Ghost Monkey (Rice Lake,WI). The show will kick off @ 10pm and will cost only $5, admission to 18 and over 21+ to drink.