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

Composer, electronic musician, improviser

Experimental Musical Instrument Workshop @MakeHaven

Contact Mics hanging up to dry following workshop 1

Contact Mics hanging up to dry following workshop 1

Yesterday was the 2nd of what will now be three workshops I’m giving at MakeHaven hacker space in New Haven, CT. The first two focused on creating contact mics and designing and building acoustic instruments. The third workshop, TBA sometime in October, will center on basics of electronics and circuits, bending/hacking instruments, toys, household objects, etc, and then interfacing the analog with the digital via Arduino. If you are interested in coming to the third workshop, please leave a comment below, or go to http://www.makehaven.org to check out the event. (You do not need to have attended parts 1 and 2 to attend part 3.)

You can see some pictures and videos from the workshops at the following link:
https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/106620628921347606840/albums/5925690144502315857

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El MuCo at ArtSpace: Instructions not Included

Brian and I have five of our hand-made musical instruments in the gallery at ArtSpace New Haven as part of an exhibition titled “Instructions not Included.” The exhibition will run from November 9 2012 – January 26 2013. The opening is tomorrow from 5-8pm at ArtSpace. Please feel free to join us and explore the exhibition which has some really great work.

Here are some pictures of our contribution to the show.


Read the rest of this entry »

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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

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Xbee: Information and Resources

The XBee RF radio is certainly not new technology, but it remains a tried-and-true means of communicating with microcontrollers in DIY electronic projects.  For those of you unfamiliar with the XBee, it is an RF radio module that can be attached to a circuit via a breakout-board and used to communicate wirelessly with that circuit, or to send sensor data to another XBee (presumably attached to a computer.)  Working with XBees is not all crackers and cheese, however.  Those familiar with the XBee know it is a device of both promise and sorrow, a ‘veil of tears’ as Allan Schindler would say.   Read the rest of this entry »

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MuCo in Miami: the recording

Here is the somewhat-delayed recording of our set on the Subtropics festival in Miami on March 20th. I took some video, but it was terrifically dark and the audio was useless as well. I know Gustavo recorded the audio from the room, but I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet. The recording below was recorded internally (and separately) on our two machines and combined afterward, so no room on this one.  If I get a good room recording, I will post it here.

Also, I think there are some good pics from the event that I haven’t gotten yet either, so I’ll post those if and when I get them. Until then, enjoy the show!

(headphones or a system with a subwoofer is highly recommended!)

Improvised Feedback Systems I (30:55)

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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