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.
Because 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.
Jasmin and Elliot talk about Moogfest, the square wave oscillator workshops, the history of drawing devices as a tool for making music, making music on a Mac Plus in 1987, the democratization of new technology, the Minimoog, postmodernism, musicology, the meaning of “time,” polka, raga, EDM, black midi, what inspires composers and artists, technology fetishes, gear lust, and sitting on the floor playing a Realistic MG-1 in a music shop in Great Falls, Montana twenty years ago — in no particular order.
Complete Dublab Moogfest 2017 Day 1 Livestream archive here.
Workshop Prep 1: Parts, and Parts, and Parts
Workshop Prep 2: Synth in a Brown Paper Bag
Musical Pencil at Work
Musical Pencil Technical Notes, Schematics, and Demos here
A (Random) Forest of Musical Pencils at Moogfest
And Then What Was…
Was What Had Been.
Thanks to Lorna-Rose, Vivian, James, Jessie, Arikai, Michael, Zack, and everyone else who helped me throughout the four sessions of the Musical Pencil Synth Make-and-Take at Moogfest 2017.
Over four days, we built 53 kits with participants, almost all of whom had no electronics experience, but left Moogfest with a square wave oscillator they had built themselves — all wrapped up in a brown paper bag.
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.
“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 →
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.