Sony Walkman-Sequenced Gakken Synth, by Gijs Gieskes

WalkSX from Gijs on Vimeo. As the Sony Walkman turns 30, many of the mobile cassette’s fans wax nostalgic. But it takes Gijs Gieskes to wire up a new Rube Goldberg-style musical instrument based on the Walkman’s simple tape playback. Follow along carefully through the signal flow of this unusual instrument: 1. The Walkman has audio on the tape itself, sampled from a Roland TR-808 drum machine. 2. Because a compact cassette has two tracks (left and right, for stereo), one track is dedicated to the drums, another to the rim shot. 3. The rim shot track is fed as …

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Gijs’ Servo Sequencer, Opto-Mechanical Music, Events in Breda + Eindhoven

The Servo Sequencer with its hypnotic-looking optical disc. Photo courtesy Gijs Gieskes. Artists Gijs Gieskes’ sequencers are almost like physical, mechanical software, an expression of musical structure in object form. As such, even as they make strange sounds, they become musical sculpture. His latest Servo Sequencer combines optical and mechanical process, as frequency circles spin on a turntable and tone arms float above them. The Servo Sequencer is built for exhibition use – meaning, yes, he’s brave enough to let you play with this contraption. Sequence the arms using buttons, then adjust the volume mix and placement of each arm …

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Arduino VGA Signal Visual Glitch with Sebastian Tomczak

The Arduino isn’t quite an deal choice for a live generative visual computer – but it can do some gorgeous things with signals. Sebastian Tomczak has a gorgeous hack (as seen via Limor Fried) that manipulates RGB data lines with the Arduino. You connect horizontal and vertical sync signals, then go to town. The Arduino in this case just converts the signal to digital and uses the lower 8 bits of the 10-bit data – a real Swiss Army Knife-style job for the microcontroller. I’m curious looking at this, though – what other sorts of microcontroller projects might be possible? …

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GorF, the DIY Step Sequencer: Video Demo

Forget NAMM — one of a handful of hardware I’m most excited about in 2009 is all DIY, the 8-step GorF step sequencer. (I’m hoping for follow-ups like a Forg or Grof. Kermit (Muppet) fans know what I’m talking about.) With four sequences with parameters, steps with pitch, gate, and Control Change, sequencing controls, legato mode, and the planned ability to both send and receive clock, this is one useful-looking device. And from the video above, it looks like it’s progressing really nicely. In fact, if you think about it, it’s kind of puzzling that there isn’t a simple, cheap, …

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DIY Step Sequencer, Coming Soon as a Kit?

Here’s something I’d very much like to see: a hackable, kit step sequencer. nostromo tips us off to a blog item on his site on the project. The creation of Monowave maker Paul Maddox, the 8-step sequencer is based on an Atmel Mega16 micro chip. The whole thing is looking very compact, which could make a nice little unit or might integrate well with other projects (like a synth). The other good news to me: new DIY hardware could be a great way to run clock into software. Previously, that job has fallen to somewhat dull consumer drum machines. With …

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HP48 Graphing Calculator as MIDI Keyboard

It’s hard to write the first line of this, because in this case any reference to Kraftwerk’s “Pocket Calculator” is wildly redundant. This is a calculator. He is the operator. This is a real, working HP48 graphing calculator playing MIDI events. You can go, like, graph stuff with it afterwards, do some Calculus. And we can thank a few people responding in a mobile music poll on this site for making it happen. Andrew Turley, who has previously built a microfiche MIDI machine (thus making his way through arcane academic equipment as MIDI controllers), describes the project: This is a …

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Guest Blog: Software Programmer Dreams of New, Small Music Machines

The Arduino Piano, as photographed here by neonarcade aka Aaron Rutledge, serves as a jumping off point for imagining the mobile music hardware machines of the future. Marc “Nostromo” Resibois, aka “m.-.n,” lives the digital life of computers. The Belgian musician and hacker [@MySpace] is renowned as a Game Boy musician, as the inventor of legendary Nintendo tracker LittleGPTracker, and even has a day job as a programmer for VJ software maker Arkaos. But lately, his thoughts have turned to more traditional synthesis hardware – hardware that acts as tiny computers. Nothing is going to shake me from my love …

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Proximity-Triggered Video at Haight Street's Robotspeak

Robotspeak video window (Director’s Cut) from Donald Bell on Vimeo. Take on Make Controller Kit, one copy of Max/MSP/Jitter, one ultrasonic sensor (deliciously superior to infrared sensors in my opinion), a projector, and a storefront window on Lower Haight in San Francisco, add in some music tech shop geeks, and you get some good fun. Andrew Cavette shot the video. With all the flashy, sexy documentation videos claiming to be the Future of Everything, it’s nice to see a warts-and-all rockumentary of geeks mucking about with tech. The spot has a special place in my heart, too — it’s San …

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