wickslooper

Elegant, Simple Soundmakers Handmade by Brian McNamara

Dead-simple, focused on one task, the Wicks Looper reminds us why we liked looping. And I love the handmade gift case he made to go with it – an idea worth duplicating with other gear. All images courtesy Brian McNamara. For all that latest plug-in may perform every kind of synthesis ever, much of electronic sound boils down to a few basic techniques. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal of DIY electronics: it’s a chance to do less. What strikes me about Brian McNamara’s work is how elegant it is: simple boxes interconnect with basic functions. These are digital instruments …

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Create Analog Music: All-Analog Kick Percussion Joins Compact Boutique Range

Image courtesy Abstract Data. Rockstar sparkle not included. Operating small runs out of his basement, Justin Owen is on a mission to bring his idiosyncratic, all-analog sounds to musicians in affordable, portable form. “Affordable” and “portable” often aren’t associated with analog, though even players as big as KORG have gotten in on the game recently, with KORG’s monotron. Now that musicians are spoiled for choice in “things making noise with numbers or electricity,” though, I think there’s added pressure. For lack of a better way to put it, you have to be interesting. And Justin’s circuits are indeed interesting. The …

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Batteries and Suitcase Music: Chris Carter’s No-MIDI, No-Keyboard Musical Rig

How much can you do with a suitcase full of soundmakers? Quite a lot, as it happens. The 20th Century gave sound two great achievements. One was the successful modeling of filtering in digital software form. The other was the production of the electronic filter, first in quartz crystal form. Today, all of those advancements are available in cheap, often battery-powered devices that fit in the palm of your hand. Spurred by yesterday’s discussion of sonic mobility and battery power, Sasa Rasa points us to the recent work of Chris Carter (of Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey fame). Chris …

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Korg monotron: Pocketable, $85 Real-Analog Synth with MS Filter; Hackable?

Image courtesy KORG, USA. Looking for all the world like it was inspired by the Gakken SX-150 synth, but packed with Korg analog electronics, the monotron has to be one of the biggest surprise announcements from a major vendor in recent memory. The tiny has the filter from the classic KORG MS-10 and MS-20 and is called a “real analog” synth. It’s also likely to be very hackable, though we’ll know more about that soon. I think we’ve found the stocking stuffer of 2010, and it’s only March. Pricing: MSRP US$85 Availability: August 2010 (note: this is official information from …

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Scenes from Amsterdam’s Music Inventors: When Circuits, Code, and Concept Meet

Making your own instruments may not be for everyone, but getting to witness the bleeding edge of musical DIY can give real insight into how electronic music performance can work, and what matters in sound. Last week, the famous sound research center in Amsterdam STEIM generously hosted an edition of Handmade Music, inviting inventors to make noises and performances with their self-made creations and to talk about their work. Ben Terwel, one of the artists, shot the video above. It includes discussion in both Dutch and English, but if you don’t speak Dutch, you’ll still get the gist of a …

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Music from the Road: Tristan Perich, Lesley Flanigan on Speakers, 1-bit, Harspichord

Strings of tour dates and electronic music often mean crowd-friendly dance music, but there’s a growing, impassioned audience for more contemplative concert sounds, too. Composer-musicians Lesley Flanigan and Tristan Perich are pulling into the last stop on an extended tour of their work, here in New York Friday at Galapagos Art Space. For many, electronic music, in particular that made with computers, becomes about abstraction. For this duo, electronics become a chance to grow even closer to the tangible, acoustic sound – techniques they share in workshops as well as performances. And would you believe… antique harpsichord? Tristan Perich at …

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Make Noise with Circuits: Handmade Music Austin Video, Freebie Kit, More

Once upon a time, people made things from electronics. Boys, girls, laypeople made stuff. My Dad actually tinkered with Theremins growing up and subscribed to Popular Mechanics. Now, in an age of hyper-specialization, too many people assume that making sounds with geeky-looking, handmade electronics should be left to the pros. But give people some instruction and let them make some noise, and you might be surprised how eager people are to try something out. Noise making, it seems, is some sort of primeval human instinct. So, it comes as little surprise that the wizards of Austin got lots of people …

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Handmade Music Spreads to Austin, Teaches You Awesomeness, Andromeda-Style

Autonomous bassline generators? Wireless, modular, infrared sync? Tiny drum machines networking together? Welcome to Texas, and the minds of Eric Archer, Bleep Labs, 4ms Pedals, the Church of the Friendly Ghost, and Andromeda Space Rockers. One look at a floor full of blinking circuits, and most ladies and gentleman might assume they’ve stumbled upon some alien technology. “Imagine the things we could learn from this civilization – advancements far beyond our own,” as the stock line from sci fi goes. “Man and woman are not meant to learn such things. You’re meddling in things beyond your comprehension.” In other words, …

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Handmade Music: Cybernetics, Wireless Beats, and Ingenious Sonic Circuits

four tiny drum machines from ALH84001 on Vimeo. Cybernetics is poised to make a comeback. The theory is, everything from electronic circuits to plants and animals can be understood in terms of feedback loops, as organisms – mechanical or organic – respond to input from their surroundings. The father of modern cybernetics, MIT mathematician Norbert Weiner, was inspired by working on the guidance systems of missiles. His writing was picked up Louis and Bebe Barron, informing their organism-like sonic circuits, as used in the film Forbidden Planet. The word cybernetic itself comes from Plato. Plato was talking about human self-governance. …

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Handmade Music NYC, Tomorrow Night in Brooklyn

If you’re in the New York area, tomorrow night we have another noise-making get-together at the lovely 3rd Ward. The event is free, and we have free Colt 45. Amanda Ervin is the featured guest this month; see one of her circuits above. Her designs are intended to be something that other folks can make, so they could be an excellent starting point for the project you’re dreaming of. (And once you get sequenced events down, of course, you can assign them to whatever sounds or visuals you like.) Thursday, September 17 7:30 – 10:30 pm FREE 3rd Ward in …

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