Archive for analog

Mutable Instruments Sidekick

Posted in creative practice, DIY, gear, music with tags , , , , , , , on 16/08/2012 by sync24

mmmm, i thought i’d posted about this before…
mutable instruments offer various filter boards to go along with the Shruthi-1 project.
i bought one of them after completing my initial build, then mutable released another project called the Sidekick:
i grabbed one of the boards and ordered the parts in May 2011 and probably completed the control board in August or September 2011.
it has its own enclosure, like the Shruthi-1, but has no midi as it’s basically just a filter or tone generator / drone machine. once i’d completed the control board i tested it with the filter that came with the Shruthi-1, it worked, so i took a photo and moved on to the next thing.
after ordering the GorF i thought i should get some older projects finished – the Sidekick being at the top of the list. so i have just finished building the SSM2044 filter board (info here:
here’s a couple of pics, without the case:

and a pic from a year ago with the case:

i’m reasonably happy with the finished artefact, though initially, it doesn’t make as much noise as i’d have liked…
maybe i need to spend more time with it until i find the good settings.


…Eurorack [euroCrack]

Posted in creative practice, eurorack, gear, music, research with tags , , , on 25/04/2012 by sync24

After lengthy conversations and emails with RH, I have decided to investigate Eurorack Modular territory. These are compact modules that cover all sorts of bases and are reasonably priced (though Eurorack is often called EuroCrack for its addictive purchasing nature…).

The Muffwigglers forum seems to be the base for all this stuff, so after having a good snoop around there i spotted a modular synth meet that had happened locally before xmas.

One forum member was suggesting another meet and i have offered the TV studio at work. It turns out I know this chap from Coventry… there’s always some strange connection somewhere!

Here’s the forum thread about the meet:

Posted in discography, gear, music with tags , , , on 28/02/2012 by sync24

Via my tracks on Soundcloud, I have been contacted by Riccardo and Emanuele from who like my ‘analog flavour’!!
they’ve asked if i am interested in doing an EP for their label…
i need to get some stuff done for them, i pointed out the difficulties because of work, so maybe i’ll have some time over Easter to get into it.

Sunday afternoon techno jam with Thomas

Posted in music with tags , , , , , on 27/11/2011 by sync24

Roland: 808, 606, 303, 101, JX-3P + PG-200, SBF-325, SPV-355, RE-201.
Boss: RPS-10, KM-60.
Fostex: 812.
MOTU: 828.

Saturday afternoon techno jam: 26112011#001

Posted in gear, music with tags , , , , on 26/11/2011 by sync24

Roland: 09, 808, 606, 303, 101, JX-3P + PG-200, SBF-325, SPV-355.
Boss: RPS-10, DM-100, KM-60.
Zoom: 1204.
Fostex: 812.
MOTU: 828.

Oramics exhibition at the Science Museum, London November 2011

Posted in creative practice, culture, DIY, gear, music with tags , , , , on 16/11/2011 by sync24

finally got round to visiting the Oramics exhibitionat the Science Museum…
here’s the info:

The story of Electronic Music, from the sound experiments of the 1950s through the digital revolution to today, is one of invention and innovation. Developed with a team of electronic musicians, our exhibition charts this history with examples of music making technology spanning more than 50 years.


The story begins with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Electronic Music Studios (EMS), two organisations that broke musical boundaries in the postwar years. Objects from this era include the EMS VCS3, the first portable synthesiser.

Also on display is the Oramics Machine, a revolutionary music synthesiser that was created in the 1960s by Daphne Oram, founder of the Radiophonic Workshop. Daphne created this visionary machine that could transform drawings into sound, and it was recently acquired by the Science Museum in co-operation with Goldsmiths, University of London.


The emerging story of Electronic Music has inspired enormous creativity, from machines like the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument that cost £20,000 in 1979 to a Speak & Spell children’s toy that has been modified to create music.

Finally we will show how the spread of technology has opened the world of Electronic Music to everyone, and how the genre continues to break boundaries. On display is a much-used TB303 bass synthesizer, which spawned the whole Acid House genre.

Oramics to Electronica is part of the Public History Project, which explores how visitors understand the history of science and technology by developing a new collaborative approach to exhibitions. We are working with musicians, engineers and performance groups to bring this story to life. Find out more in this behind the scenes film. You can also enter our OraMIX remix competition.

[from here:]

looking at some of the items on display was a bit of a ‘got, need, got, got’ experience, so it was great to see these classic synths in a museum environment.
also, the shapes on the Oramics machine used to make sounds were strangley familiar… they reminded me of Flash movies i began making in 2000 after my MA, black abstract shapes… i’ll dig out the project and post it.

here’s my slideshow:

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and here’s a few of the exhibit panels i copied:

Oramics to Electronica.
Revealing Histories of Electronic Music.
Imagine, for a moment, a world without electronic sound. Such a world would have no radio, virtually no recordings or amplification, and all musical sounds would come from acoustic instruments. In other words, electronic sound is emblematic of modern times. But electronic sound didn’t just happen; it was created by women and men, most often at the margins of what was musically acceptable and technically possible in their time.

This exhibition takes you back half a century to when electronic music was being invented. This was a time when there was no such thing as a synthesiser, when composers had to make their music with whatever came to hand: conventional musical instruments, kitchen gadgets, old test gear and tape recorders. People with fertile musical and technical imaginations began to envisage new kinds of machines to produced new kinds of sounds and new structures of composition. This exhibition highlights three examples: Daphne Oram, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Electronic Music Studios. It also looks back thematically at electronic music from the viewpoint of today.

Daphne Oram
Daphne Oram created her extraordinary music machine at a time when synthesisers as we know them did not exist. She dreamt of making machines that would give her complete control of compositions and how they sounded.

Working at the BBC in the 1950s, she had often taken the opportunity at night to make music with any equipment she could find. The main machine she used were tape recorders, themselves then a new technology less than 20 years old. Acquainted with avant-garde art music from Germany and France, she had urged the BBC to establish an experimental music studio, the ‘Radiophonic Workshop’, which eventually officially opened in April 1958. She left the BBC within a year of its opening to set up a private electronic music studio, almost certainly the first fun by a woman.

Daphne Oram’s favourite passage from Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis (1627)
‘We have also sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sound, and their generation. We have harmonies which you have not, of quarter-sounds, and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have, together with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet. We represent small sounds as great and deep; likewise great sounds extenuate and sharp; we make divers tremblings and warblings of sounds, which their original are entire. We represent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters, and the voices and notes of beasts and birds. We have certain helps which set to the ear do further the hearing greatly. We have also divers strange and articulate echoes, reflecting the voice many times, and as it were tossing it: and some that give back the voice louder than it came, some shriller, and some deeper; yea, some rendering the voice differing in the letters or articulate sound from that they receive. We have also means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in strange lines and distances…’

Make do and mend.
Because much early electronic music equipment was expensive, people were creative in finding affordable ways to make these new sounds.
Some of the most exciting developments in electronic music have come about through this spirit of innovation. Many musicians built their own synthesisers from do-it-yourself kits or turned household objects into noise-makers. Sometime this was for financial reasons, sometimes just to make an interesting new sound. This led to manufacturers developing affordable alternatives.
From home software programming to circuit bending, this level of ingenuity still lives on.

The democratisation of electronic music
From the 1950s until the 1980s it was difficult to produce electronic music outside of specialist studios because computers and synthesisers were unaffordable and difficult to use and maintain. Originally an elite art form, electronic music gradually fed into popular culture through the work of recording studios such as the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Being heard on TV and radio programmes made electronic sounds familiar to all.
As these new sounds became more common, there was a surge in the development of more affordable equipment, allowing people to make and record electronic music at home. Electronic music is now a part of many musicians’ everyday life.

Electronic Music Studios
‘My company, EMS (Electronic Music Studios), has a reputation with synthesisers, and synthesisers were something which didn’t interest me much ever, although lots of famous pop groups used the VCS3, I really manufactured those to make money for my studio, and for other musicians to work in. For instance, I worked with Harrison Birtwistle a huge lot. To be able to let these people work free in the only advanced electronic music studio in Britain, we sold synthesisers. i feel a bit of a traitor saying this because so many people now associate EMS with these now rather classical synthesisers. The studio tried to develop things which have still not been developed.’ Peter Zinovieff, founder of EMS
To produce this case, we worked with people who were involved in EMS in the 1960s and 1970s.

Egg slicer and two contact microphones
A contact microphone allows tiny sounds to be amplified. By attaching a contact microphone to an egg slicer, the tiny wires might be amplified to make a plucking sound. What other sounds could it make?

Toolbox and parts case used by the electroacoustic musician Hugh Davis
Many people building their own instruments used everyday tools and materials. With little knowledge of basic circuits, experimentation often led to exciting discoveries of new sounds.

Powertran 2000 synthesiser and home-built synthesiser module
Until the 1980s synthesisers were unaffordable for many. ‘Home build’ kits which required assembly by the suer became popular with musicians as a way of getting the sound of a commercial synthesiser without the expense. Do you think you could build this?

Triadex Muse algorithmic music generator
The Triadex Muse was one of the first instruments designed to create music by itself. The four sliders on the front of the machine allow the user to control volume, tempo, pitch and fine pitch. Using these settings, the instrument would produce pieces of music by playing seemingly never-ending variations on sequences of notes.

Casio CZ-1000 digital synthesiser
Casio developed some of the first high-quality, low-cost digital synthesisers. Models such as the CZ-1000 helped bridge the gap between cheaper ‘home’ keyboards and expensive instruments, and were used by amateurs and professionals alike.

Roland TB-303 bass line
Produced in the early 1980s, the TB-303 was a simple synthesiser and sequencer origianlly marketed as a bass ‘accompaniment box’ for solo musicians. Although it was a commercial failure, its subsequent low price helped to make it popular with producers who used its aggressive sound capabilities in the emerging genre of electronic dance music.

WIRED magazine, August 2011, featuring Biophilia by Bjork
Recent advances in technology have changed the way we consume music.  Musicians can now provide a more interactive listening experience by providing ‘apps’ for use with home computers or smartphones. These apps can provide sound samples, films, games, and much more in addition to the music.

Lampshade used as a sound source by Delia Derbyshire, 1967
‘I like using natural sounds combined with synthesised sounds to create something that perhaps hasn’t been heard before.’
Delia Derbyshire, 1979
‘They said to me [at a 2009 Roundhouse reunion concert], we’d like you to go on stage holding Delia Derbyshire’s lampshade. I walked on with this… Well, you’d think it was the second coming!’ Dick Mills

winter track_ 110111_wint

Posted in artwork, creative practice, gear, music with tags , , , on 01/11/2011 by sync24

Live recording has only been trimmed and compressed a little bit.
Features wandering tuned 101 & some of the other gear.
no MIDI, minimal sequencing, 2×1 bar drum loops.
5 note 101 annoyance.