In some cross between a self-aware, intelligent computer a la HAL and an experimental sound artist, the project Digimancy presents a talking, synth-playing Commodore 64. Get through a few minutes of it spouting theory, and somewhere at about 6 minutes, 30 seconds in this video, that Commodore 64 starts to jam with danceable, glitchy sounds. It’s a bizarre laboratory sonic production – white lab coat included – but eventually, this semi-evil computer makes songs. And it’s just the sort of convergence of analog and digital we love, as the C64 chips drive a nice set of boutique, analog gear. Patch cords and chips – bonus.

Reader Jordan Bartee, the man responsible for this mayhem, sends it our way, which provides entry into, in his words, “the micro-galactic frontier.”

No reason to let him have all the fun, though. He’s shared schematics, source code, and PCB layouts:

Decode that, and find an old C64, and you can go to town.

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  • Michael Una


  • Ha DigiMan points out some interesting similarities between man and machine!  I love his imitation of person's voice at 1:00  🙂

  • He should credit the speech synthesis program he used: S.A.M. – Software Automatic Mouth

    Maybe he does in the .zip file?

  • @oldmanfury: You're absolutely correct, I just threw up a credit in the video info.  Mark actually contacted me privately a few days ago to express his support for the project.  Do you know he's the same Mark Barton who now designs modules for cyndustries (including the Zeroscillator?).  It's a seriously small world!

  • Great stuff Jordan, really glad to see this getting out there! Also, the SSS logo is great 🙂

  • that was absolutely fantastic.

  • but…Is there more music?

  • This was engaging to watch.  🙂

  • mckenic

    Congrats Jordan! Excellent stuff!

    I hope to see this in person some day but Im afraid of blowing myself up if I were to DIY it – 240v – buzzz!

  • kid versus chemical

    Incredible stuff, thanks for sharing.

  • Refund

    that was absolutely amazing, I'll definitely be your friend digiman.

  • That´s very nifty! Sould be then also possible with a Sinclair ZX Spectrum or Schneider CPC…wonder what melodies are slumbering in those…*G*

  • Loved it! Good writing, and the music was killer. I'd love to see an album produced in this way.

    Also, do you think you could share with us how the modular was set up / what modules you used? As I'm looking to get into modular synthesizers, a system like this would be perfect for me.

  • This. Is. Incredible.
    Gotta love the S.A.M….

  • Thanks everyone for your kind words and for giving DIGIMAN a chance.  He's really feeling the love these past few days.

    @Jeremy: Everyone has a different approach to their modular system -some folks are very organized and methodical, and keep detailed notes of their patches etc.  I'm sort of more "intuitive" -I follow my nose a lot and I don't bother to write down what I'm doing.  I spent an entire day creating the patch you see in the video, and after I filmed it I tore it down and basically forgot about it.

    With that said, I do remember a few details.  The output of the T.L.L.'s 4-bit CV generator is running through a uScale, which is quantizing to a simple pentatonic scale.  This feeds a Piston Honda which is generating the main melody.  The snare and kick are being shaped by envelopes from a MATHS, triggered by gates from the T.L.L. The snare sound is from a Zorlon Cannon, and the kick is from an Anti-Oscillator.

    A 4ms RCD is involved in clocking a brains / pressure points, which sequences the bass line as well as the counterpoint melody from the Zorlon.  A lot of the audio is also being gated using Mutagen mutes to give a little rhythmic variety.  A Noise Ring modulates Bit-Rotation on the T.L.L.

    You should come on over to Muff's -lots of really knowledgeable people there who could help you figure out a starter system.