Musical Circuits Goes to Moogfest 2018

MF18 Moogfest 2018 Screenshot v2

From Digital Bits to Analog Waves:  Breadboarding an 8-bit Synth

Using only digital logic and handful of wires and resistors, we will breadboard a circuit that creates complex analog sounds.  Theoretically speaking, we will wire an R2R (resistor to resistor) ladder to smooth the output of a Walsh function generator, experimenting with the auditory effects that result from altering those connections.  Practically speaking, we are going to breadboard a circuit and poke it with wires to hear what happens.  This is a make-and-take workshop.  No computer, no soldering, no electronics experience required.  Please bring your own earbuds to listen to the output.  All other materials will be provided and you can keep what you make.

MF18 Circuit Diagram


Ciani Versus Buchla:  An Audacious Experiment in Sound Design

“[W]e played tennis frequently.  He was a very good tennis player, and we shared that passion.”  Suzanne Ciani talking about Don Buchla (Electronic Musician, May 2017).  What would that have sounded like?  Using Audacity, we will create an imaginary auditory narrative of a game of tennis played by two of the greats of synthesized sound.  We will model the sound of Ciani’s serve, Buchla’s return, a racquet hitting a ball, the bounce of a ball back and forth on the court, and the roar of a crowd.  No experience with Audacity or sound design (or tennis) is required, but participants must bring a laptop (MAC or PC) of their own.  Please download Audacity before the workshop.


Elsewhere at Moogfest 

Musical Circuits Moogfest

Herb Deutsch Playing the First Moog Modular Prototype

MF18 Team Buchla

Team Buchla Tells It Like It Was

MF18 Tlacael Esparza Sensory Percussion

Tlacael Esparza Explains Sensory Percussion as Midori Takada Leans In

MF18 Ben Gebhardt of Moog Explains Electronics

Ben Gebhardt of Moog Explains a Circuit

Musical Circuits Moogfest

AI Design Workshop

MF18 KRS-One Teaches

KRS-One Teaches Everything You Didn’t Learn in School

MF18 Moog by Shanahan

Bob Moog

And then, back into a world too much with us, late and soon…

MF18 Resist


MF18 Wristband


Thanks to Lorna-Rose, James, Megan, and everyone who came together to share a few magic days of electronic sound.

— WEI 2018

Posted in Circuits, Experimental Music, Moogfest, Workshops | Tagged , ,

Four Four Time @ CDI

Four Four Time

An interactive, collaborative constellation of four MIDI sequencers, each of which can play four notes in its own time with variable pitches, note lengths, and tempos. Participants can join in the real time creation of complex musical patterns working at one of the four sequencer stations or just listen in to the results of a crowdsourced quartet.  Presented by Elliot Inman of Musical Circuits as part of MUSICnight at the Center for Design Innovation, November 1, 2017.

Posted in Arduino, Experimental Music, MIDI

Circuit Bending for Beginners

Circuit BendingBecause unmaking something is a great way to make something new.

Circuit Bending for Beginners
Unmake a musical keyboard and discover how plastic parts connect with electronic circuits to make music. See how the piano keyboard actually works, how a power supply is wired, and how the speakers are connected to the circuit. Find out what happens when we trick the circuit into doing things it was never intended to do. With nothing more than a Phillips screwdriver and a handful of wires, we will dismantle a keyboard and turn it into an experimental orchestra of synthesized sounds. No soldering, no high voltage, no computer — only reckless good fun. Workshop lead by Elliot Inman of Musical Circuits as part of the Charlotte Mini Maker Faire hosted by Discovery Place, 10-14-2017.


Circuit Bernding for BeginnersPhoto from Twitter:  CLTMakerFaire, 10/14/2017
Posted in Circuit Bending, Circuits, Workshops

Musical Circuits Goes to Moogfest 2017


Continue reading

Posted in Circuits, Moogfest, Workshops

A Postmodern Drum Machine

TOFU Time 1

Tofu Time:  A Solid Block of Extra Firm Time and a Very Sharp Knife

“How does time function in postmodern music?  Postmodernism is profoundly temporal, but it uses, rather than submits to time.  Its music shapes time, manipulates time.  Time, like tonal sounds and diatonic tunes and rhythmic regularity and textual unity, becomes no longer context but malleable material.”   ~  Jonathan D. Kramer, Postmodern Music, Postmodern Listening 2016, p. 152.

Most drum machines build a beat from the sample up.  Some, like the Roland 808, allow you to press buttons to determine the position of samples in a left to right sequence.  Others, like the Akai MPC-1000, allow you to set an empty loop length and trigger a sample as your previously triggered samples loop endlessly until you fill up the loop space.  Both drum machines work from the bottom up to build a beat.

This isn’t that drum machine.  This is a drum machine that approaches beatmaking from the top down — a postmodern drum machine.  Instead of building a beat by adding samples, this drum machine lets you build a beat by dividing time down.  This is a drum machine that treats time like tofu, a big block of extra firm tofu.

Continue reading

Posted in Arduino, Drum Machine, Experimental Music, Postmodernism

Silence, Chance, Cage, Code

Random Silence 2

“Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard.”  ~ Stéphane Mallarmé, 1897

John Cage is well known as the composer who formalized the use of silence as a compositional element on par with any other note or sound.  He was also the composer who, though Zen Buddhism, introduced chance into composition, allowing the I Ching to dictate the terms and conditions of sound heard in a way that no egomaniacal romantic would have ever allowed.  Cage was content to determine the methods of composition without micromanaging the process note-by-note. Continue reading

Posted in Experimental Music, John Cage, Uncategorized

Musical Circuits @ KNOBCON 2016

Experimental Music: Composition with an Arduino MIDI Controller

Knobcon  Chicagoland, September 2016knobcon-2016

With an Arduino, a breadboard, and a handful of parts, you can build a MIDI controller that works as a sequencer or a classic beatbox. But the same design can be used to implement interactive MIDI effects that bend musical time and space. From real-time manipulation of tone clusters to playing the silences between the notes, simple midi parameter misdirection to an exploration of vertical time, hyperrealism and perceptual illusions – one basic Arduino MIDI build can serve as a useful platform for a wide variety of sonic explorations. In this talk, Elliot Inman of Musical Circuits will demonstrate the build and code necessary to get started and demonstrate various musical effects.

Apologies to Hiller and Isaacson, 1959, for use of the title.



Continue reading

Posted in Arduino, Circuits, CODE, Experimental Music, MIDI