radiothing

Once upon a time, musicians made music from the sound content pouring invisibly, inaudibly from the air. The likes of John Cage and Kalrheinz Stockhausen turned the radio into stochastic source and instrument, a means of making music in the now.

And now, you can, too, in the latest Eurorack module.

Whether you want a modular or not, this is one module you definitely don’t need. You don’t need to act out Cage-ian fantasies and turn your local hit FM station greatest tracks of the 80s and 90s into an experimental noise performance. Nor do you really need to understand the workings of Eurorack by building your own DIY module. But you can.

And the man who made the DIY project is none other than Tom Whitwell, the one-time music tech blogger who used to trade shots with CDM at Music thing, but has now found a much more enjoyable path making new Eurorack modules (among other worthwhile activities).

Music Thing Modular Radio Music Prototype from Tom Whitwell on Vimeo.

The beginnings of this project can be found in a guest piece Tom wrote for CDM in the heady days of 2012. There, he was already on to the notion of building a radio sequencer – and, in the process, teaching you how to make your own modules.

Now, the piece is fully fleshed out and documented. There are copious instructions, so that this might even be your first electronics piece. You can delve into the history of the music that inspired it, then grab a soldering iron and start making your own history.

It’s open source hardware, with extensive documentation and all the circuits and faceplate up on GitHub:

https://github.com/TomWhitwell/RadioMusic

More background on the music history behind this:
Compositions based on radio broadcasts

And the sounds you can make actually do get really interesting, as you start to modulate the radio sequencer’s output via voltage:

Manic Burroughs Cut-Up is Manic from thonk on Vimeo.

There’s no actual radio here. It’s a sequenced sampler, technically. The advantage, though, is future-proofing – much needed as terrestrial (analog) radio goes the way of the dodo, to be replaced by digital radio and its ilk. But the concept holds. And this is a nice project if you’re interested in dabbling in DIY for Eurorack.

Find it at Music thing Modular:
Music thing Modular

If you do want a radio in your rack, here are a couple of suggestions (via our friend Guy Taylor):

ADDAC System VC FM Radio
Evaton RF Nomad

And they’re also worthy additions, I think. (That ADDAC is handsome.)

ADDAC102_big_

Previously (including notes if you want an actual radio):
Music Thing: A Radio Sequencer, How to Get Into DIY Synth Modules, How to Have Fun

radiothing2

  • j

    So its actually a sample player with really long samples?
    Still cool – just making sure I understand.

    • Yes, exactly – though that saves your performance if there’s a radio problem 😉

      Updated with two modules that have actual radios in them. So you can choose!

  • j

    So its actually a sample player with really long samples?
    Still cool – just making sure I understand.

    • Yes, exactly – though that saves your performance if there’s a radio problem 😉

      Updated with two modules that have actual radios in them. So you can choose!

  • Korhan Erel

    This was my project to be realized during my second STEIM residency in 2005. And indeed it was realized in the form of a Marantz rack tuner modified to accept control voltages for tuning. But the relays made too much noise while tuning and it was not usable. Very happy to see the idea turn into a compact module.

    • Yeah, see the other comment – you can actually choose this, with samples (performance friendly) or risk putting a real radio in your rack (good for actual radio signals, or … you know, listening to the radio in the studio!)

      • Korhan Erel

        I think tuning an actual radio using CV is fantastic. An idea would be to use 3-4 of these (the actual radio ones) and many small radio transmitters and use CV to tune to those transmissions, which could send samples, synth sounds, etc.

  • Korhan Erel

    This was my project to be realized during my second STEIM residency in 2005. And indeed it was realized in the form of a Marantz rack tuner modified to accept control voltages for tuning. But the relays made too much noise while tuning and it was not usable. Very happy to see the idea turn into a compact module.

    • Yeah, see the other comment – you can actually choose this, with samples (performance friendly) or risk putting a real radio in your rack (good for actual radio signals, or … you know, listening to the radio in the studio!)

      • Korhan Erel

        I think tuning an actual radio using CV is fantastic. An idea would be to use 3-4 of these (the actual radio ones) and many small radio transmitters and use CV to tune to those transmissions, which could send samples, synth sounds, etc.

  • Mutis Mayfield

    White noissssssssssxxxssxsxhsxhsxhsxxsxsxsxhsxhsxsxhsxsx

    🙂

  • Mutis Mayfield

    White noissssssssssxxxssxsxhsxhsxhsxxsxsxsxhsxhsxsxhsxsx

    🙂

  • Krzysztof Cybulski

    there’s a radio in OP-1 as well

  • Krzysztof Cybulski

    there’s a radio in OP-1 as well