S C O T T P E T E R S E N ∞ E L M U C O ∞ S C A C I N T O . C O M

homepage for scott eric petersen, el muco, and all things electronic

Audio Fun with Inductor Coils


As Ethan and I await the arrival of components necessary to embark on our spring reverberation tests, we pass the time by winding inductor coils and playing with magnetic fields. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: DIY, Tutorial / How-to, , , , ,

Make Testing Speakers for Free**

Required Parts:

  • 1-2 8 ohm speakers
  • an enclosure (cardboard box, tea tin, coffee can, etc.)
  • insulation (cotton, an old shirt, the hair you get from your pet when using the Furminator.)
  • wire
  • glue ( any will do, but… I cannot recommend a hot glue gun enough. see below)
  • alligator clips (deluxe version) or just some metal bit that will conduct the signal.

Required Tools:

  • soldering iron (and solder)
  • X-acto knife or other cutting tool (depends on the material of your enclosure.)

Recommended Tools:

  • wire cutters/stripper
  • helping hands
  • hot glue gun (and glue)

As the asterisks in the title imply, and as you know from life, nothing is free. If you don’t have the parts, you will have to acquire them. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Phase 1, , , , , ,

IBeam Laser Show (2011)

It has been almost five months since MuCo performed for the 2nd time at Ibeam and for one reason or another the recording has sadly sat neglected on a hard drive since then.  I finally dug it out, mixed the tracks together (output of kane + scacinto) and here it is for your listening pleasure.

(Just in case you are wondering what the laser-gun sounds are that occur at the beginning and, even more noticeably, during the middle of the recording [11:18 ->], they came from a magical black box that Kane made and I played without knowing how it worked. Hilarity.)

El MuCo @ Ibeam May 28th, 2011

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

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, , , , , , , , , , ,

FridayNightThing II (2011)

Here are some pictures and a short video from FridayNightThing II (Feb. 25th.) A big thanks to Heather for taking all the pics and video, editing them together, and putting them online. As always, a big thanks to all who came, participated, and spectated. The next FridayNightThing will be on Friday March 25th. Get out your pots and pans and plan on joining us!

FridayNightThing – February 25, 2011 from hstryk on Vimeo.

Scott explains bleeps & bloops


Investigating Scott's Matrix Mixer

Anne & Carl go over each other's composition

Anne & Carl setting up

Carl & Anne talk after their performance

Carl & Anne's compositions


Carl experiments with the clangpot

Carl enjoys the clangpot

Simon treats us to some classical guitar

Simon, Scott & Anne

Simon and Scott

Filed under: FridayNightThing, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , ,


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 [•_•]

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INI new haven

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