Composer, electronic musician, improviser

El MuCo: Birth of The Growler!

Less than two weeks after the completion of  the JankoTunes (real name pending) Kane and Scacinto have finished the second El MuCo instrument!  Witness the birth of THE GROWLER!  In its previous life, The Growler was a PC Picture Phone: a pathetic and annoying toy whose only purpose was to entertain tiny people with underdeveloped brains.  Over a series of hours, Scacinto and Kane worked with surgical precision, paying attention to every aesthetic detail, and transmogrified the PC Picture phone into the glory that is now THE GROWLER!

The Growler is a sick man-machine equipped with one mega-potentiometer, one 100k pot, one 6-position rotary switch (though we only use 4 of them), one jTouch sensor (carriage bolt), 8 switches, one 12-button matrix, and one thumb-clicky-thingy (formerly the receiver switch on the phone.)

Below you will find pictures and recordings showing off The Growler in all its resplendence.

PLEASE NOTE: these recordings are for advanced listeners only!  Scientific study has shown that prolonged exposure to noise can lead to an unsettled constitution, nervousness, panic attacks, and even psychosis. (this isn’t a joke.) LISTEN ONLY IF YOU ARE SURE YOUR PSYCHE IS CAPABLE OF HANDLING EXCRUCIATING, LASER-LIKE WAVES OF NOISE!!!!

Here are the capable hands of Kane doing some last-minute soldering.

Kane Soldering the Growler 1

The completed Growler basking in the light of the overhead.

The Growler: glowing

The maiden voyage of The Growler in tantalizing digital audio!

The Growler 1

The Growler 2

The Growler looking retro hanging out on the wooden table.

The Growler looking 70's retro

Scacinto makes a pleasured monkey-face while giving the Growler a test run.

Scacinto plays a face-melting solo on the Growler

It sounds so good he can’t but laugh hysterically!

Scacinto bemused by the Growler's insouciance

Kane sets up for the maiden voyage of the Growler.

Kane setting up the Growler's first recording

Setting levels for the first recording.

Kane coaxing the sweet sounds

Kane working a pot

Working it!

Kane making some clicky nastiness

A sweet little overdubbed piece of Muco chamber music. Featuring two JankoTunes and a baritone Growler.  

Kane working the buttons on the Growler

Some cheezy effects to bring out the growls. Reverb, phase, granulation, EQ.

Filed under: El MuCo, , , , , , ,

Maiden Voyage

On Saturday the 18th of July, the first El MuCo instrument was completed and taken for her maiden voyage. Enjoy some pics of the instrument and a sound clip of scacinto introducing her sonorous loveliness to the world (not for the first time, but for the first time as a complete and beautiful lady…)  Also keep your eyes open for our “name the instrument” poll where YOU, the seething and relentless horde of mindless, rabid, zombie-like El MuCo faithful will get to name the new instrument!  EL MUCO!!!!

Maiden Voyage

JankoTunes complete 1

JankoTunes complete 2

Scacinto pondering the JankoTunes in a Kanelike manner

Euphoric Scacinto and the JankoTunes

Apelike Kane places finger on the JankoTunes

Kane and the JankoTunes

JankoTunes, from the other side

JankoTunes, from the other side

Filed under: El MuCo, , , , ,

El MuCo: Custom JankoTUne (KidTunes) Post-Evisceration Construction

Once the PC Picture Phone and the KidTUnes were eviscerated and frankensteined back together in a manner more aesthetically pleasing to both eye and ear, it was time to re-house the KidTunes.  The aesthetic of painted toy plastic is nauseating to both Scacinto and Kane so a plexiglass housing with stainless (when possible) hardware was decided upon to both provide working functionality and “playability.”  Additionally, we decided that we didn’t want the re-housed instrument to cover any of the modification or original circuitry, so plexi was the natural choice.

Here are a few pics of the guts of the two instruments, both completely torn from their original housings.



Splayed-out PC Picture Phone

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone 2

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone 2

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone 3

Splayed-out PC Picture Phone 3

Here follows the construction of the JankoTUne instrument.  For the project we picked up three pieces of plexiglass (about 12 x 14”), a scoring tool, a few bags of 1” and 1.5” screws with nuts and washers, and two carriage bolts for the touch controls with two nuts and two washers apiece (so connections can be made simply by clamping the wire between the washers.)  Additional tools included a pair of snips, a drill with a number of different sized bits, a piece of scrap lumber, and some MuCo Majicke.  The snips are useful for just about everything from cutting molded plastic housings to metal screws and tiny annoying bits that keep your potentiometer from laying flush against the plexiglass.

This first picture shows the keyboard/main circuit which has been mounted onto the plexiglass with three 1” screws with 1/2” 6-32 spacers (1” spacers we cut in half with the snips.)  In the front, we used two 1” screws with spacers as supports only as there were not mounting holes on the front of the circuit board and we didn’t want to risk drilling them from scratch.  The holes at the back of the board did have to be bored-out a little for the screws to fit without risking cracks.

KidTunes Main Board Mounted

KidTunes Main Board Mounted

KidTunes Main Board Mounted 2

KidTunes Main Board Mounted 2

Next we mounted the switch circuit using the same method as the main board.  The drill bit size for this sort of thing should be, as with other projects, just slightly smaller than the size of the screw.

KidTunes Switches Mounted

KidTunes Switches Mounted

Here is the back of the board showing the first two mounted circuit boards.

KidTunes Underneath

KidTunes Underneath

This shot shows Kane fitting on the potentiometer onto the control panel.  The control panel piece of plexiglass was from the same piece of plexi as the main body.  We scored the glass 3-5 times and it snapped easy-peasy and clean.  The control panel is mounted on with 1.5” screws and 1” spacers with nuts.

KidTunes Mounting Component Panel

KidTunes Mounting Component Panel

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel

Here is the finished control panel with potentiometer, two switches for stacatto and legato (sustain), two 1/8” audio jacks for connecting a speaker and running audio out to a mixer/computer, and the two carriage bolts in the foreground which act as touch controls so we don’t have to fidget with the actual board as much.  The touch controls are really reactive and vary much more than simply touching the wire connections.  Touching the top versus the side, and even moving around the surface all changes the resulting sound.

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel 2

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel 2

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel 3

KidTunes Mounted Component Panel 3

(Kane says: just to give a bit of info on what all the doodads are going to do (from left to right, top to bottom), 1) a megapot which replaced the timing resistor, 2) two mini-jacks for speakers, lines-out, whathaveyou, 3) switches to turn on and off “sustain” mode and “staccato” mode, and 4) two customs touch nodes–aka, the jTouch©, just to get all proprietary and jCapitalist on you–which add extra tastiness to the sound.)

Showing off…

Scacinto with the almost-finished JankoTUne

Scacinto with the almost-finished JankoTUne

JankoTUne Almost Complete

JankoTUne Almost Complete

And now follows a few words of caution for anyone who would attempt a project like this.  First, protective eyewear is your friend.  Working with drills and plexiglass eventually = flying shards of sharp nastiness.  Second, when working the plexiglass, especially smaller pieces which are more likely to snap/crackle/pop, be sure that you support the entire piece of plexi when you are working with it to reduce chance of breakage.  When drilling plexi, use the smallest bit possible and lay the plexi flat on a piece of scrap wood, or two pieces (supporting either side of the drill hole.)  When the bit is too big, the plexi can get caught and chunk or break off around the drill hole.  Go easy on the pressure and high on the speed of the drill — too much pressure and the plexi will a) crack, or b) the bit can gouge chunks out of the board (on the backside of the drill direction.)  As always, patience is a virtue.  Take your time, measure twice, drill once.*

*All of this advice is true and sound: we didn’t take any of it and injury, breakage and sadness abounded!

Filed under: El MuCo, , , , , , , , , , , ,

El MuCo: PC PicturePhone Janked (plus a little Kidtunes)

On the 27th of June, in the year of our Lord (his Noodliness the Flying Spaghetti Monster) 2009, a PC Picture Phone was janked into greatness. Additional functionality was also added to the KidTunes Keyboard with some soldering and the assistance of “The MegaPot.”

The creation of the PC Picture Phone JankoCircuit ™ on the otherwise uninteresting device yielded splendid sonic results. On this page are pictures of both the Kidtunes setup, and two setups of the PC Picture Phone. Additionally, audio will be added as it becomes available (it’s being pressed onto vinyl as we speak.)

The below picture shows the new “hands-on” wiring of the Kidtunes with the megapot and the necessary switch settings.


Here is a close-up of the switch settings: from top to bottom, the settings are On/Off; Demo; Organ/Piano; High/Low volume.


A close-up of correct hand technique.  Note the left hand holding down a key…


By using the technique pictured above, the kidtunes produces a strange pitch-sweeping effect. Is some capacitor being charged and drained in this short circuit? Who the *?&# knows!

Sweeping Up and Down

And finally, the good stuff!  The PC Picture Phone was harder to get any really interesting sounds out of.  Many connections had to be made before the standard “Call the Doctor” siren call was rendered listenable.

Below is the circuit board for the PC Picture Phone as mod as we could make it after a meal of red meat, two games of Bocce, and 4 boxes of sparklers (and 11 beers).


1: the timing resistor (connected to node 4).

2: many points on the board cause the timing circuit to slow down, here there is a single node 2 shown next to 1, and the blue polygon also marked two shows an area of the board in which all nodes produce this same effect.

3: the JankoNode.  Integral to the JankoCircuit, it is this connection (or another connection on the same path not visible in this picture) that causes the Jank Effect.

4: this is the other end of the timing resistor (node 1), which causes the circuit to either speed up or slow down. The MegaPot is connected between nodes 1 and 4. 

5: i’m going to call this the LFO node as its effect is similar to modulating the circuit with a frequency of 15 Hz or so.  (with the correct resistance)

6: I can’t remember what these do… more Janking I suspect… (Kane: I remember! If you run some alligator clips between nodes 3 and 6, you get the Jank-O-Rama Effect! That’s what is pictured below–check out the audio!)


Jank-O-Rama Warning: Repeated listening may cause psychosis.

Below shows the circuit board of the PCPP with resistors removed and wires soldered into the board for ease of clipping.  Notice the black wire at the lower left hand side of the board.  This is the other JankoNode mentioned in the description of the circuit board above.


Here is a view of the whole mess.


Top view of whole mess.


The pot on the right is connected via the bread board to the timing node on the circuit board.  The pot on the left is controlling the amount of “Jank” from the JankoCircuit. We even captured low, clicky sounds by working these two pots in conjunction–very Kontakte!


Assorted clicks and clacks

The below resistor is the correct resistance for the PWM node (red6) as shown below.


The circuit with Jank pot control.


A close-up of the breadboard connections.  The PWM node is not plugged into this circuit.


Below are some voice notes taken after the session.  Please note they are tedious and mumbly (too… tired.. uh… to … uh… think…) and contain no cool noise.  They’re here more for us than for you ;)

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Filed under: El MuCo, , , , , , , , , , ,

Capturing the gentle sounds of short circuits

Scientific Toys Kidtunes Electronic Keyboard

The Scientific Toys Kidtunes Electronic Keyboard

After a long night soldering in the “man room,” Kane recorded some of the gentle sounds of the the Scientific Toys Kidtunes Electronic Keyboard. By running a cable straight from the speaker (and bypassing any external amplifier circuit) the sound is surprising clean…and, dare I say it, refreshing!

The KidTunes Keyboard, resistors removed & wired into amplifier circuit

The KidTunes Keyboard, resistors removed & wired into amplifier circuit

Kidtune Magicke
Addendum: A few more samplings from the cornucopia…


Check out the range on this bad boy


A jaunty jig by working the demo switch


I poop on all frequencies below 5,000 Hz!

Kane Holding a Potentiometer

Kane Holding a Potentiometer

Adjusting Tension

Adjusting Tension

Filed under: El MuCo, , , , , , , , , , , ,

MuCo and the Laying-on of Hands (and pincers)

Having purchased 9 electronic children’s toys for the purposes of evil (and paying by the pound $16 total!) Kane and Dusty set out to bend the devices to their will.  With the laying-on of hands, ordinary became extraordinary.  Following are some pics and a sound clip of the newly “fantastified” PC Picture Phone.

PC PicturePhone


The cracked-open picture phone.


Alligator clips running from the circuit to a resistor.


Blue marker on the circuit to show the appropriate timing solder points.


Circuit with clips attached to increase speed of synthesis/playback.



Kane testing resistance.


Dusty doing his Kane impression... note gnarled forehead (?!?)

Filed under: Current Projects, El MuCo, , , , , , ,

G O I N G S O N : L O C A L (ISH)

fritz Art of Fritz Horstman
kane Music of Brian Kane
fritz Hartford Phase Shift
fritz Hartford Sound Alliance
Lique Art of Philip Lique
Lique Music of Matt Sargeant
strycharz Art of Heather Strycharz
uncertainty Uncertainty Music Series

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Handmade instruments by Scott Petersen and Brian Kane at Artspace New Haven