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, , , , ,

Fun with the Wien Bridge Oscillator


Look ma, a (almost) sine tone!

To the fledgling electronics enthusiast who has just enough knowledge of electronic music theory to be dangerous, it makes sense that the simplest tone, the sine tone, should be the simplest/easiest to construct in the analog electronics domain.  Of course, this is not the case.  While geometrically simple to describe, the sine tone is not easily achieved using electronic components.  Most designs found online indicate that the most common method is to “filter” a square wave created by an op-amp through a given set of components placed between the output, the non-inverting input, and the ground.  This is the method employed by the Wien Bridge Oscillator. Read the rest of this entry »

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

Modular Synth Components

(top, left to right) Oscillator with voltage divider, low pass filter, white noise generator, amplifier

(top, left to right) Oscillator with voltage divider, low pass filter, white noise generator, amplifier

Last night El MuCo (The Mutagenic Cooptoraptors) accomplished a feat heretofore unimaginable: three circuit projects were undertaken and three projects were completed successfully.  While you may be tempted to think that, with the assistance of a book (Ray Wilson’s Analog Synthesizers) and the vast power of the internet this is not a big deal, you could not be more mistaken. Not only because of our chronic electronic ineptitude, but because even getting all the parts together for this much electronic awesome is daunting.  Of course, we didn’t have all the right parts, but we did it anyway because SCOFFING AT CONVENTION IS OUR BREAD AND JAM™! Read the rest of this entry »

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

Electronic Music from “How Things Work” c.1970

On a recent outing to a local bookshop I encountered a 4 volume set of books titled “How Things Work.”  It is a wonderful compendium of knowledge in simple but not simplistic language with really great illustrations.  The four volumes cover everything from knitting to jet engines.  Naturally what caught my eye were all of the electronic devices and processes; everything from how tape recorders, phonographs, and records (LPs) are made and function to broadcast television and electronic music.  I here submit them to you for your enjoyment. The pages are available in two ways, a scanned pdf of the entire section and the individual pages as jpegs.  You can download the pdf from Scribd, and the jpegs you can download by clicking on them to bring up the image page.  Enjoy!

Here is the electronic music section (pg.s 202-214 in volume IV) as jpegs.

I have not researched the origins of the book, but they are obscure.  From a review on Amazon:

It is a 4 volume set, originally published in Germany or Switerzland around 1970. It was translated into English soon thereafter and is now out of print, but you can buy it used on EBay, or Amazon, or ABE Books.com.

A puzzling thing about the English edition of the book is that it does not include the name of the editor or author(s), nor does it include the publication or copyright date. Odd. The only name mentioned is the illustrator, R.J. Segalat.

In this case the reviewer is mistaken.  The illustrations were only “researched by” monsieur Segalat according to the forward of the English edition.  Any comments with information about these volumes are appreciated!

Filed under: Miscellany, Music, Phase 1, , , , ,

FNT III: Pics and Sound

Hey FNT fans, here are a few pictures and all of the recordings of everyone’s pieces from FNT III. Many thanks to all who attended and to all who made a piece. The tracks are even sweeter than I remember. Hopefully we will see you next month at FNT IV where Fritz Horstman will present some of his work!


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

FNT III: The 68k Classic Clash

... it calls to you... ...do you hear your name?..

March 25th

  • Be the first on your block to write a song for the Macintosh Classic II!!!
  • Learn Super Studio Session!!!
  • Have your music performed in public!!!
  • Get your hands on a clicky single-button mouse!!!
  • Drink beer!!!
  • Bolster your geek cred!!!
  • The keyboard!!!  Whoa!!!

If you want all of the above I guarantee there is only one place to get it this coming Friday night! FNT III!!!! You don’t know how to write music? Ha! With Super Studio Session you don’t need to know anything about music to write a hit song! Simply click on some lines to insert an instrument and then click in notes at random! It’s easy! Also, it’s fun! Also, who cares?

Classic Computing!

This computer is 20 years old ladies and gentlemen! It is not going to last forever! Get your hands on it before its capacitors pop! Make your impression on the world before it’s too late!

FridayNightThing III:
Friday March 25th, 8pm
667 Whitney Ave #11
New Haven, CT 06511

So easy even Kane can do it!

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

Lost Voices of Blasphemous Friends

In 2006 I both completed recording for, and abandoned, a sound installation for 8 speakers.  The work, originally titled Voices of Blasphemous Friends was intended for installation at a festival to which I was never invited.  I recently stumbled upon the recordings, mostly in a state of discombobulation, and the 5 movements/excerpts I used to submit to the festival.  Perhaps it is the magic of the passing of time, perhaps it was hearing the voices of far away friends, but I was immediately drawn to these recordings.  I here present them unedited and in the state in which I left them 4 years ago.  I will now refer to the work collectively as the Lost Voices of Blasphemous Friends (for obvious reasons.)

To create the piece, I tricked eight friends into writing two questions to me via email under the assumption that at some point that year I would invite them up to Rochester (where I was living at the time) to record them asking me the questions.  I then collected the questions they sent me and put them all together, compiling a list of 18 questions (including two of my own) and a few monologues I asked select people to write.  When the “interviewer” showed up to quiz me, I informed them that in reality they would be the ones answering the questions, and that there were not two, but 18 questions, and that additionally they would be required to sing, hum, and perform other assorted tasks as required by the questions.  After I recorded them answering there own, and other’s questions, I had each one ask me the questions as well.  I did not prepare any answers.

The questions themselves ranged from “Did you have anything to do with the bombing?” to the classy question “who do you think says the word ‘fuck’ the best?”  There is also a question of epic proportion that takes nearly a minute to ask and can be heard below in the piece Question #9.  Originally, the work was to take the form of “a whole and then parts.”  By this I mean that the questions and answers were to be presented unedited, one set per speaker, followed by “movements;” edited portions of the set of whole recordings which would take the form of canons, dance music, and more, using only material from the recordings with no alterations of pitch and duration, nor processing that would mask the original sound.

For much more detail into the philosophical underpinnings of the work I will have to dig (provided something good doesn’t come on the TV.)  Until then, please have a listen to the short pieces/excerpts below.  I hope you will enjoy them.


Lost Voices of Blasphemous Friends

excerpt of 1+ hour of questions sounding simultaneously, spatialized here to imitate 8 speakers in a rectangular arrangement



monologue written and read by Marc Bollmann


Question #9

question written by Solomon Guhl-Miller, asked by Scott Petersen (8 different times)



monologue written and read by Matt Barber


Breakdown : or I am the Destructicon

voices, beat-boxing, and knee-slapping by Ethan Borshansky, Gabriela Ponce, Scott Petersen, other

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

Analog Ring Modulation Circuit

Above is a video and below are some pictures of a simple ring mod circuit I whipped up last night. The circuit is the classic circuit, and I’m simply running two oscillators from a hex schmidt 6-oscillator IC through the circuit as the carrier and modulator. The frequencies of the hex schmidt are being controlled by a PSR (photosensitive resistor) and an FSR (force sensing resistor) respectively. The video shows fairly well how the PSR reacts to the light. The function of the FSR is a little less clear visually, but you can hear it pretty plainly. I can throw up (!) a schematic of the circuit if anyone is interested, but you should be able to find one by doing a google search.

The project requires a 5V power source (batteries only!) a bread board or project board, some wire (i prefer solid-core) two diodes, two capacitors (0.1uf), 1 133k (or thereabouts) resistor, one PSR, one FSR, one hex schmitt oscillator (mm74c14n) and an audio cable or female 1/8 audio jack to run into a) an amplifier, b) a mixer, or c) your computer.  In this case I have two alligator clips attached to the cut-off and split end of a 1/8 audio cable, the other end of which is running into a mixer and then out to small speakers.

Next on the agenda I think I’m going to build me an ADSR for it. This site has a really great page on ADSRs with diagrams, circuit board patterns, etc.

Filed under: Current Projects, Miscellany, Phase 1, , , , , , , , , ,

Stockhausen: Étude (musique concrète) 1952

I recently ran across this piece which I had not previously heard. It is the first piece of musique concrète by Stockhausen composed in 1952-53 at the RTF in Paris.

A quote about the work by Stockhausen from an online source:**

“First I recorded six sounds of variously prepared low piano strings struck with an iron beater, using a tape speed of 76.2 centimetres per second. After that, I copied each sound many times and, with scissors, cut off the attack of each sound. A few centimetres of the continuation [steady state], which was – briefly – quite steady dynamically, were used. Several of these pieces were spliced together to form a tape loop, which was then transposed to certain pitches using a transposition machine. A few minutes of each transposition were then recorded on separate tapes.

I was only allowed to have the studio with a technician for a few hours each week.Therefore, I hammered a nail into my desktop at the student hostel, laid a metal tape hub on the nail, fastened a ruler horizontally onto the desk in front of me, and placed a series of hubs with modulated tapes and one hub with leader tape next to each other at the rear of the desk. Then I cut many short pieces from a roll of white splicing tape and stuck them next to each other on the edge of the desk.

I then chose, according to my score, one of the tapes having a certain sound transposition, measured the notated length in centimetres and millimetres, cut off that length, spliced it with a little piece of the splicing tape onto a lengthy piece of white leader tape, and wound the white tape plus the first little piece of magnetic tape around the metal hub on the nail. For this I used a pencil which was inserted into the outer hole of the hub.

Next, I chose another prepared tape, measured and cut off a piece, and spliced it onto the previous piece. Whenever the score prescribed a pause, I spliced a corresponding length of white tape onto the result tape. Occasionally, my winding apparatus did not function, and tape salad was the result: I then crawled around on the floor under my desk searching for one end of the fallen tape. Once found, the confusion of the entangled tape was unravelled with great difficulty, and it was wound around the hub again.

When my studio time came, I synchronized two of my spliced tapes using two play-back tape recorders, recorded the sum on a third tape recorder and copied this result again – depending on the polyphony desired – on top of a further zebra-tape of bits of brown tape and little pieces of white pause. Already upon hearing two synchronized layers, and even more so hearing three or four layers, I became increasingly pale and helpless: I had imagined something completely different!

On the following day, the sorcery undespairingly continued: I changed my series, chose other sequences, cut other lengths, spliced different progressions, and hoped afresh for a miracle in sound.”

From another source quoting Stockhausen:**

“I can no longer recall exactly how many weeks I carried on this cutting and splicing, with ever-increasing perfection of my winding-skill. Anyway – on this CD released in 1992 – the world can now hear my Concrète ETUDE of 1952, which for many years I had presumed lost until I finally found it again in a pile of old tapes.”

While hyperbole and useless, flowery, and overtly descriptive language often accompanies any description of this piece online, I feel it is both important and necessary to describe it as awesome.  I wonder if the score is laying around in a pile somewhere… I sure would like to see it!

**all quotes from the sources above were taken from: Karlheinz Stockhausen, Compact Disk Number Three; Electronic Music 1952-1960, from the complete edition (Stockhausen Verlag), accompanying booklet.

Filed under: Miscellany, 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

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