Kaseo sent me a great video demo of how powerful and fun a pitch bend can be, even on the most simple toys. This Pikachu mod consists of touch contacts and a pitch knob. Sometimes it is hard to find a potentiometer that is of a high enough value to create a super stretched out crawl. However touch contacts can be used to achieve a complete break as well. Enjoy.
Qubais Reed Ghazala, father of circuit bending, has posted a flickr set on the OddMusic list showing many details of his Tape Canvas device, conceived independently from the Nam June Paik’s Random Access created in early 60s. The instrument functions by having segments of tape stretched out on a board next to each other, played by a tape head extracted from the tape player. The movement can be across those segments in all directions at various speeds: fast, slow, or sideways is sure to produce interesting sound combinations. The possibilities do not stop with tape, floppy disks and VHS tapes can also be attempted with this setup. No sounds or videos that I can tell, but if someone knows more info please comment.
Update: Ghazala’s responce to Paik’s comparison.
\nWow! That\’s a cool Paik link. But I don\’t think it\’s really a "very
\nsimilar" device, even if sharing the same "engine" …stationary tape
\nand moving head. Look deeper…
\nPaik and I are after very different things here, as persons familiar
\nwith Paik\’s concepts of the era will understand. And I\’m sure all
\nthinking persons presume that the history of tape recording involved
\nlab tests where all kinds of head/tape experiments were performed
\nbefore either Paik, or you or I, got our chances, no? Maybe artists
\nshould be happy lab techs don\’t have agents! More on this in a moment.
\nMy idea (admittedly less academic) came from thinking about what\’s
\nhappening here (though I\’d never seen such a thing before, just a nerdy
\nkid in high school). I imagined the head moving and a strip of tape
\nstaying still, ala Paik, as just another reversal-of-theory thing. But
\nthe artistic limits of this were obvious, and it seemed, to me, a first
\nstep toward a larger idea.
\nPaik\’s piece, while thought provoking, is yet rigid and
\nhighly-prescribed (as compared to much of his other work, and that\’s
\ncoming from someone who\’s browsed Paik\’s private art warehouses and
\nholds a real respect for the man). But it was appropriate for the times
\nand right-on for the piece: Paik\’s idea was not to create a musical
\ninstrument, per se, but rather a viewer-participation (very hip then)
\nconcept piece – tape manipulation was an academic focus at the time,
\nreflected in the diagrammatic arrangement of Paik\’s installation. In
\nthat light it was very cool, and certainly successful. More successful
\nthan my tape canvas, in this regard. But as I say, we were after
\ndifferent things, and at different times in history.
\nThe tape canvas (an entire surface of magnetic media) was the
\nfinalization of my perusal of this idea (including the variants
\ndiscussed), but with end result more as experimental musical instrument “,1] ); //–> Wow! That's a cool Paik link. But I don't think it's really a "very
similar" device, even if sharing the same "engine" ...stationary tape
and moving head. Look deeper...
Paik and I are after very different things here, as persons familiar
with Paik's concepts of the era will understand. And I'm sure all
thinking persons presume that the history of tape recording involved
lab tests where all kinds of head/tape experiments were performed
before either Paik, or you or I, got our chances, no? Maybe artists
should be happy lab techs don't have agents! More on this in a moment.
My idea (admittedly less academic) came from thinking about what's
happening here (though I'd never seen such a thing before, just a nerdy
kid in high school). I imagined the head moving and a strip of tape
staying still, ala Paik, as just another reversal-of-theory thing. But
the artistic limits of this were obvious, and it seemed, to me, a first
step toward a larger idea.
Paik's piece, while thought provoking, is yet rigid and
highly-prescribed (as compared to much of his other work, and that's
coming from someone who's browsed Paik's private art warehouses and
holds a real respect for the man). But it was appropriate for the times
and right-on for the piece: Paik's idea was not to create a musical
instrument, per se, but rather a viewer-participation (very hip then)
concept piece - tape manipulation was an academic focus at the time,
reflected in the diagrammatic arrangement of Paik's installation. In
that light it was very cool, and certainly successful. More successful
than my tape canvas, in this regard. But as I say, we were after
different things, and at different times in history.
The tape canvas (an entire surface of magnetic media) was the
finalization of my perusal of this idea (including the variants
discussed), but with end result more as experimental musical instrument
and less as concept piece.
I wanted to allow a fluid approach to the reversal of the tape/head
motion situation, but in a way that allowed expression in the classic
sense of interaction with an instrument, and without the hassles of
"keeping on track." A wide magnetic canvas allows all kinds of
approaches to head path and composition impossible in the Paik
installation (isolated strips are impractical for seamless sound
But... first? Like with circuit-bending, I just assumed when I began to
explore the tape idea that I couldn't have been the first to examine
such a simple concept... it's just too obvious (I call this principle
"the threshold of invention" and discuss it in my book).
How important is this? Being "first" at something? If two people think
the same thought, in the dark and years apart, and each develop the
same idea, is the latter the lesser? What if the latter was working in
a darker environment with greater hurdles? Perhaps that late arrival is
more the genius?
I know we like to drive stakes here, but I've always thought
application to be more important than inception. If something is first,
sure, let history note it. But, even as recognized by patenting
principles, use of the wheel may be more important than its origin.
Nam June Paik himself mocks this concept of judging art by time...
"Art is just fraud. You just have to do something nobody else has done
Our society, in an effort to validate things, often reaches toward the
simplest handholds. Don't worry too much about it. I think Paik would
agree: just keep inventing.
Radio Shack CEO has resigned amid questions of whether he graduated college or not. This could not have come at a better time for the Rat Shack considering that their low earnings are forcing the closure of 700 stores nation wide. Now this is not a huge problem for me, however for some people who live in areas where the only part source is the Radio Shack this may be devastating. To all of us this can also spell out Huge Sale Look Out! Now if someone finds the list of closing stores please forward that to me stat! Otherwise just go into a store and ask the employees if they are going to be laid off and watch for reactions.
RCA Voice recorders are fairly cheap and readily available. The one I used for this project was an RP5007 I believe, purchased for $5.00 at a second hand store. The bends implemented on this unit were all short circuiting of the Smart Media card slot. This was pretty much the only place that I could solder wire to as well. Of course there is no room for switches inside case, so external breakout box was used and all the wires were fed back through the opening in the case. The recorder itself was then super glued pretty hard to the project box. The sounds are pretty intense, lots of cool glitch loops, robotic sounds, and general Speak and Spell like glitches. I did record a video of the device being messed around with and there is an extensive gallery detailing the construction. Enjoy.
Just want to let everyone know, that GetLofi.com server is having some hardware issues. Currently it is running on a quick fix, however if it does go down. Don’t panic, we will be back soon.
The incredible Highly_Liquid MT-240 is almost up, on eBay. The sound sample is wild and craftsmanship looks perfect. Rivets seem to be in right now as well. The box is actually marketed as an individual product called GlitchDesk and can be purchased for $99 from Highly_Liquid’s website. An interesting feature of the desk is the ability to extract audio signals from the internal circuitry. This can be done with just about any memory chips and processor circuits. The result may be a quite complicated square wave.
The very cheap switches from Hong Kong Super Seller have just received an upgrade. My latest batch arrived the other day and as you can see in the photos, the solder terminals of the right switch contain red resin substance the base. My guess is that this will prevent the certain degree of melting found in the previous models of switches ( on the left ). In my experience wires had to be soldered carefuly and everything was fine, but this is a welcome improvement at no extra cost to us! Great…
This fairly new bending site seems to have quite a few very neat closeup shots of circuit boards, various toys, and some interesting comments on bending experiences. My favorite part however is this CoolTronix TunaFish Keyboard picture. These are still available for purchase on various eCommerce Sites. Funny thing is that I have a shower radio that looks just like this keyboard, same everything. One thing for sure, this TunaFish would be very tasty with a 555 oscillator mod.
“You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish.”
I found the reference to Peter Vogel through Karl Klomp’s website which I will post more on very soon. However I feel that this is worth noting because Peter Vogel’s sculptures are complete and interactive audio circuits. In this closeup it appears that the circuits are transistor based oscillators with a resistor feedback. Sounds simple enough, but getting everything connected point to point like that it is a bit of a challenge and an art form in itself. I would imagine that these individual circuits produce simple oscillations and they may also be patched together for cross modulation. There may also be some time based performance factor designed into the circuit, however that is hard for me to say because I have only read the descriptions and not actually seen one in real life. Comments?