Now, here’s the way to do an analog noise generator oscillator: use grains of sand.

As falling sand interrupts the flow of a laser to a light-sensitive sensor (a photodetector), the circuit produces random oscillations of sound. It’s the latest brilliant creation of mad Dutch scientist Gijs Gieskes, the industrial designer-turned-musician whose inventions often center on some physical and mechanical apparatus. Just for good measure, the project is mounted to a clear frame so it can be fit to a Eurorack modular setup.

You can try building this yourself; as with all of Gijs’ projects, the circuit is freely available online.


Photo courtesy the artist.

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the synths of our lives…

Thanks to ferrie=differentieel on Twitter for the tip!

  • Leafcutter John

    This is a nice way to make noise, not dissimillar to what I did with fizzy bubbles in this video:

    • Arvid Jense

      Great job on that one, I thought, “awesome, a novel type op microphone!” But after some googling, it appears that microphone manufacturers are already making these things.
      Once I find a laser pointer (seems like they’re illegal here) I’m going to try this for some sound design.

  • Tekknovator

    Gijs is a Genius, once met him at one of my own gigs in NL and he was setting up an led sculpture thingy wich was synced to his gameboys. The man has awesome ideas