S C O T T E R I C P E T E R S E N

Composer, electronic musician, improviser

Gearing Up

In anticipation of our upcoming performances March 12th and March 20th, we (MuCo) improvised a set tonight using our new patented MuCo Flouper® and recorded the sonic joy that resulted. Here, for your enjoyment, is the 35 minutes that occurred AS it occurred, recorded in Hi-Def audio and reproduced for you in stunning stereo!

Filed under: El MuCo, SC3 - Code - Music - More, , , , , , , , , , ,

Holiday Jankotunes (Kidtunes) Sample Pack!!!

In the spirit of the holiday season, and to show all of you our fans how much you mean to us, El MuCo is giving away this free sample pack of Jankotunes magic!  Many hours of toilsome labour went into editing this massive sample pack (over 32 samples!!!) for your artistic edification and pure enjoyment.  We hope it will help you and the entire world find peace and joy this holiday season.

From El MuCo to you, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Just some of the sample pack’s MANY attributes:

  • 922,916 bytes of sound!
  • Deluxe, virus free!
  • Easy-to-read file names!
  • No bothersome equal temperament!
  • With metadata!
  • 100% pure sound!
  • Official El MuCo Brand Merchandise!
  • Audio bit rate: 160000!  160000!
  • Totally underground!
  • Normalized!
  • Of the highest quality (not a cheap imitation!)
  • DC Removed!
  • Not really proprietary!
  • Hardware hardware hardware!
  • Real® mp3™ format℗!
  • Not guaranteed!
  • Totally audible!
  • Small!
  • Much, much more!

Download it now! (954kb)

If you have any questions or comments, please submit them to us in comment form. Thank you.

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

Virtual Matrix Mixer (yes, in SuperCollider)

Screenshot of the Waz Matrix Mixer in action

Kane and I recently dropped $170 at JameCo on potentiometers, switches, diodes, project boards, and more in anticipation of several MuCo projects we have been planning.  The main project now after some op-amp FAIL last night (the FAIL being Mimms’s op-amp.  Yes, there is a free version on the nets.  No, we will not help you torrent it illegally) is a classic 3×3 matrix mixer which we intend to use a la David Tudor to make feedback music of the most splendiforous nature.  As some of you may have noticed, I have been slightly obsessed with feedback of late, and for good reason: feedback, like Frosted Flakes, is better than good, its great.  It’s great to make, great to listen to, great to cover up the drunk, sleeping neighbor’s DVD menu music that runs for hours and hours after he’s passed out on the couch.

I plan to post a little “Fun with Feedback” post this weekend (maybe tomorrow), but I will jump the gun and get to results before I do.  In anticipation of the analogue matrix mixer, I decided to spit in the eye of convention and model an analog (make an analog of…) device digitally first because I wanted to see what my results with the analog device might be.

This was an interesting experiment because it highlighted the reality that, while creating digital analogs of analog equipment may be useful on a basic, conceptual level, it breaks down completely when it comes to the actual implementation/realization of the object.  This may seem obvious to some of you (congratulations), but one wouldn’t suspect this with the tradition of modelling analog equipment in electronic music studios the world over.  Not to mention all of the digital synthesis software that models even its appearance.  (Yes, Reason, I’m looking at you… with disdain.)  I’ll make a long story short and say that approximately 2 minutes after I sat down with idea the matrix mixer in my head to start coding it up, I was conceptually far enough away from the analog instrument that looking at my notes one might not even guess it was supposed to be a simple 3×3 summing mixer.  This is partly because of the nature of programming itself, and partly because of the idiosyncrasies of any programming language.  If one were to mock up the 3×3 in Csound, SuperCollider, and ChucK, it would become very clear very quickly that one cannot think the same way about the same object when coding in different languages.  I now digest.  (yes, digest.)

After some headbanging and with some help from Kane and HJH (on Nabble) the Waz Matrix Mixer V.1 was realized last night.  The SC3 code is below so you can see how it is constructed.  The mixer is simple: it routes 3 input sources (in this case, either the built-in microphone or a sine oscillator) to 3 outputs each.   At the outputs is some processing, a delay line, distortion, etc.  The output from the processing can then be routed back into any of the inputs including itself, thus the feedback.

In the following picture, the blue knobs represent the 3×3 matrix.  Each row routes its respective input to outs 1, 2, and 3 individually.  The red knobs control the input volume, and the yellow knobs control the amount of outs 1, 2, and 3 that are fed back into the chain.

janky gui -- needs work, but works...

As promised, here is the code (provided Scribd ever finishes processing it…)

Here is a recording with the mic as the input source.  I’m not actually doing anything with the mic, I’m just letting it hum and collect room noise and the output from the speaker which is right next to it in the laptop.  The delay line’s delay time parameter is being dynamically changed using the mouse position (x axis) which results in pitch-shifting.  This is responsible for the “glitching.”  Additionally, I am using the mouse position y axis to control the decay time (in seconds.)  When the decay time is over 3, the processing synths begin a sometimes irreversible pattern of self destruction.

Here is a recording of the sine oscillator inputs.  There are three sine tones around 440, 1000, and 1400 Hz respectively.  The rest of the processing is as described in the example above.

Filed under: Code, Current Projects, El MuCo, Music, SC3 - Code - Music - More, , , , , , , , , , ,

Introducing The Little Princess!

What was once the hideous DJ Crappy Tunes (aka DJ Crappy Turntable) has been reborn as the beautiful and talented “The Little Princess!” To see/hear some of the genesis of this beautiful machine, please see our previous post.

Below is the first video of The Little Princess. Here, Kane is taking her for a ride with her lid closed: no peeking!

Here is another video with The Little Princess’s lid open. See all of her wondrous insides? Watch Kane play with them and make her giggle with delight! (SICK!)

Finally, here are some pics of The Little Princess immediately after her reassembly. Enjoy!

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

Audio/Video: Uncertainty Music – April 24th

Here is some low-quality video from our show at The Big Room in New Haven. More details will follow. Below is audio only.

Filed under: El MuCo, Music, Phase 1, SC3 - Code - Music - More, , , , , , , , ,

Audio/Video: Hartford Artspace, April 25th

The above is some low-quality video from our most recent show at Hartford’s Artspace. Below is audio only.

The performance space, as you will be able to tell in the recording, was cavernous. I estimate the ceiling to be between 16-20 feet. The room was exceptionally live and reverberant. Our approach is always to improvise, in the most genuine sense. We do not discuss what we are going to do before hand, nor do we really “practice.” Once we were in the space, we knew that we had to incorporate a lot of space (silence) into our improv to keep the texture from becoming too muddy. The work has a natural ramp shape as we move from sporadic and spacious to dense and thick textures at the end.

Hardware used: mostly the Casio SA-2 with a little bit of the growler. We set up the mixer so that the mic input was routed to both computers, and our computer audio was routed to each other as well. (This creates great cross-talk possibilities, and is mostly how we work now.) Kane was running his granular patch and, at the beginning, it is easy to hear him grabbing bits of what I am doing with the mic. I played the Casio a bit, banged on the mic a lot, as usual, but started with cups, forks, and my hands. The household objects were provided by Juraj Kojs who performed in a later set.

My code was primarily made up of recursive ndefs (sorry, SC3 specific stuff here…) which take the incoming sound, delay it using comb filters, feed a certain amount back into the signal, and a certain amount out to a bank of “effect” ndefs. By dynamically changing the delay length of the comb filters while running the synth, pitch-shifting occurs which varies the resulting feedback loop’s overall spectra.

Filed under: El MuCo, Music, Phase 1, SC3 - Code - Music - More, , , , , , , , , ,

DJ TOY THING (aka DJ Crappy Turntable)

DJ Crappy Turntable: VIOLATED!

El MuCo has begun work on a number of one-off instruments, one of which is briefly described here.  This fantastic pile of crap was once a DJ toy whats name I have forgotten, but will refer to as the DJ Crappy Turntable or DJCT for short.

This instrument had two “platters” on the top side (not shown) made of ridge plastic and attached to the instrument with screws.  On the underside of the platters were gently sloping ridges which, when the platter was turned, would cause buttons which were inserted in the holes (visible in the lower-right side of the picture in the black part of the case) to be pushed in.  This would close a part of the circuit and cue a short audio clip which would make a squeaky “DJ” scratch noise, or another amusing sound such as a dude yelling “Hit it!” in the style of Bad Dudes.  (dating self here.)

The instrument has a dearth of good bends, but after a few goes we were able to find several points on the board that connected to the amplifier circuit that, when engaged, would give either an ear-piercingly high wail, or a low cosinish-sounding moan.  The below pic shows these two points.

A bend (the only) on the DJ. Note the red clip bridging/touching two resistors

When testing the bend by running the sound into a computer and recording it, we severed the connection to the speaker.  The result was that the bend no longer functioned because the speaker itself supplies a certain amount of resistance.  By replacing it with a 4.7 ohm resistor, the bend was once again functional.

The speaker resistance replaced with 4.7 ohm resistor.

Here is a recording of the bend in action.

Here is a fantastic sonogram of the first 12 seconds of the sound file.  Please note DC has been removed ;)

The first 12 seconds of the above sound recording

This instrument suffers from what a lot of more up-to-date instruments suffer from — a lot of surface-mount resistors, and complex digital  ICs without a lot of analogue leads.  The result is that, more often than not, newer toys end up having one, maybe two good bends.  Usually the built-in sounds are intolerable, and the bends involve tweaking the timing circuit down to the point that the sound is unrecognizably low/slow, or bending something in the amplifying circuit which results in distortion/masking of the original sound.

Neither of these is a particularly worthwhile or rewarding endeavor if the original sound wasn’t worth a damn.  However, sometimes one can find bends that result in original sounds, in other words, not part of the IC programming.  In this particular case we have some potential.  A touch sensor may be employed to give us a little more control than the potentiometer in use (100k).  But the end result will be an instrument with very little sonic flexibility.

Our next project will be to start housing these “one-off” instruments in modular patch-bay style housings where boxes will contain more than one instrument, and all of the connections will be made to a separate control box where we will have touch-sensors, potentiometers, etc.

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

Casing the Casio SA2

There are a lot of sites/posts online with either audio or video of bent Casio SA2s. One site in specific has a lot of great, detailed information on the Casio series, and that is CasperElectronics‘s site.  In fact, his site should be required reading by anyone looking to learn anything about hardware hacking.

That said, it is way more fun to explore an instrument than it is to read about it!  Just doing what’s been done, or just following directions kills what makes HH such a joy — the thrill of the chase!  The key to exploration is knowing how to sail (ahoy, amass those Sprogs n make fer thar swaggy!) and where to sail (say, is that the edge of the world?  forward, ho!!!)

El MuCo prefers to lick-n-stick first, and read second (if at all…)

Here is the SA-2 with the top case off showing how it looks prior to having the case sealed up again.  You will notice that work not described here as already been done.  This is the problem with non-linear pictorial placement.

Here is a close up picture of the part of the circuit where bridging some of the resistors results in pleasing sonic/musical results. In the recording below, I was simply using a 4k resistor on 1 with a quick, light touch.

Click on it to see the 1024×728 version.

Here is a recording made tripping the resistors marked 1 & 2 above.

Here one can see the connections we’ve added in the form of wires soldered onto specific legs of the two integrated circuits.  The white box at the left is the timing crystal.  Note the black wires next to the timing circuit.  These were soldered in place of a resistor which we removed because the wires were easier to “play” as indicated in the “tripping the resistors” comment above.  Unfortunately, it turns out, pulling resistors from circuits and maintaining the overall resistance is not as easy as measuring the resistor and putting in a substitute elsewhere.  As any electrical engineer (and now El MuCo) can tell you, length and thickness of the conductive materials will affect resistance.

Another View

Because we couldn’t fit the pots in the case, and there was already a dearth of space from all the wires, we decided to annex the control interface to another enclosure.  In the below picture you can see the wires from the board running out through holes drilled in the case.

Here is the control module.  The box is a standard Radio Shack project box with three bends, each with its own on/off switch.

We never put the keys (musical keyboard) back in the Casio case as it was deemed superfluous.  One can find images of hacked SA-2s all over the web, many showing bends built-in to the original case.  Our decisions were not purely aesthetic; we had a show in a week, and needed to get this thing wrapped up.  Having said that, the modular approach is appealing for a number of reasons.  We plan on cutting the wires to the module and building in an RCA patch bay.  This way, the two units can be taken apart for transport.

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

El MuCo IBeam Performance Recording — More

Hello El MuCo fans!  Below you can find pictures and recordings from the show at IBeam on the 12th.  I will upload the audio for the group improv and from Rich’s set when I have time to edit it!  Happy listening!

Many thanks to Heather for taking photos and video!

El MuCo Set: IBeam

All Sets: IBeam

All photos by Heather Strycharz

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

Glossary

Glossary of terms often found on the pages of this site
This page will be updated often.

Algorithm: an algorithm is a general rule set (finite) that is used to solve a particular problem.  An algorithm is best when it solves one problem and it does so efficiently, using the smallest number of instructions required to perform its task.

Arduino: [taken from the site] Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

bend: an adjustment made to an existing circuit that alters it in a way audibly perceptible (and awesome.) or that causes functional change (flow of charge, etc.) [WARNING] NEVER attempt to bend an instrument that is plugged into the wall:  AC + metal + you = death.

distortion: distortion may be defined many ways depending on the signal that is being distorted.  Very generally, distortion is the addition of noise to a signal.  Here, noise is defined as anything that is not part of the signal when running under standard conditions.  In other words, distortion occurs when something causes some part of the signal (amplitude, voltage, etc.) to exceed the ability of the conductive medium (component parts, amplifier, speaker) to represent the signal accurately.

hardware hacking/HH/circuit bending: using any means to modify an existing electronic product to create new functionality, either in the motor/physical or sonic domains.

LED: a light emitting diode.  LEDs are in just about every piece of electronics.  Mostly used to let you know if your electronic device is on, they can also be useful for testing circuits.

lick-n-stick: to wet one’s finger with ones saliva (!) and apply it to the circuit in an effort to sniff out bends.  Very useful when attempting to locate the timing circuit; when pitch goes up, you’re on the right track.  [WARNING] as noted ALL OVER the internet and in books, one should never attempt to bend a toy that is plugged into the wall!  AC = death, esp. when you are touching it with your spitty finger.

potentiometer: a variable resistor with a third adjustable terminal. The potential at the third terminal can be adjusted to give any fraction of the potential across the ends of the resistor.

resistor: A resistor is a two-terminal electronic component that produces a voltage across its terminals that is proportional to the electric current passing through it in accordance with Ohm’s law: V = IR

sniff out: to look for bends.

SuperCollider: SuperCollider is an audio/visual programming language.  [BIAS] It is vastly superior to all other audio synthesis languages ever written.

Filed under: Phase 1, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

My Other Awesome Sites [•_•]

Assault! 375 Aural Assaults!
About me! About me!
MySpace! MySpace!
Google+! Google+!
My (soon-to-be) Company! My (soon-to-be) Company!

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