Photo courtesy the artist.

One Laser + Hourglass + Circuits = Crazy Gijs Noise Generator

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 …

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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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Make Chats with Bender Maestro Gijs Gieskes

Circuit Bent Casio SK 1 from Gijs on Vimeo. Note: we are temporarily having problems with Vimeo’s embedded video. (So is MAKE, evidently, so it’s not our fault!) Click through to see the video, or enjoy the lovely garbled characters if they’re there. Regular followers of the music tech blogs know the wild and wonderful work of bender/inventor Gijs Gieskes (here or all over here), in which Casio keyboards get massive mechanical add-ons and Sega games become fuzzy, distorted video art. Phillip Torrone writes us to let us know MAKE has taken a closer look at the artist: In the …

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Circuit Bending Gone Mechanical: Gijs Gieskes’ New Casio SK-1 Bend

There are no limits to the new forms the once bargain-priced Casio SK-1 synthesizer can take, transformed by circuit bending. But whereas most circuit-bending involves hacks with wires, bending superstar Gijs Gieskes goes further, by building a large mechanical apperatus to trigger the bent sounds. Gijs sent this link last week and I didn’t get to talk about it, so here it is: Gijs Gieskes Casio SK Circuit Bend [Project page; warning: color scheme may frighten animals and small children] See also: Get LoFi: Gijs SK-1 Mechanical Glitch Mod, at the best bending blog online There’s a lot going on …

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A kid and parent playing with a Benjolin

At this exhibition, the future of music is weird

We have seen the future. And it’s strange – in a good way. Bizarre Sound Creatures was an exhibition late last month held in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, accompanied by workshops and performances. The theme wasn’t just new instrument design and music making, but imagining a future world with peculiar evolutionary twists. These are musical objects with odd appendages and surprising interfaces. Let’s take a look.

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refunct

Art From Trash, as ReFunct Media Makes a Symphony from Obsolete Gear [Videos]

Obsolescence: it seems inescapable, as generations of old gear are replaced with shiny, new ones. But one person’s discarded electronic trash can be an artist’s electronic treasure. ReFunct Media is a collaborative to make something out of all that used junk. In parades of strange, twitching machines and orchestras of electronic noise, gear goes from landfill fodder to art stars. The collective effort has made its way from Ireland (Imoca, RuaRed) to France (Gaité Lyrique) to, most recently, Berlin and the LEAP gallery, where we catch up with it in the form of some raucous video documentation. The artists themselves …

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Hand-Mixer “Cappuccino Synths” and Rare Earth Pickup How-To

Cappuccino Synth from Gijs on Vimeo. An oscillator is, after all, just something that oscillates. So it is that a handful of hand mixers can become sound sources, in Gijs Gieskes’ new “Cappuccino Synths.” The sound isn’t much raw, though with some processing it could go in any direction you might imagine, and there’s something sculptural and inspiring about watching metal spin. The basic technique is really as much about the pickup, the amplification of the source, as anything. And that means any number of household items could take on new meaning. As it happens, Gijs has shared a tutorial …

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Happy 30th, Sony Walkman: Your Memories and the Best of Cassettes on CDM

The once and future Walkman. Photo: FaceMePLS. July 1, 1979: it was thirty years ago today that the Sony Walkman went on sale, launching mobile music for the first time. Wait – rewind (so to speak). That honor really belongs to the portable transistor radio – and, indeed, part of the reason America already knew and loved Sony by the time 1979 rolled around, having embraced their pocketable radios as early as the 1950s. In fact, if you want to blame a device for degrading audio fidelity, you should again look not to MP3s and iPods but back to — …

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Handmade (and Handheld) Music in Brooklyn, Plus Online Stream, Thursday

The Gamelatron at the Chelsea Museaum Teaser Handmade Music hits Brooklyn again Thursday night with a terrific lineup: Robotic gamelan instruments with the Gamelatron, created by Zemi17 and the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots (LEMUR) – check the video above! Rescued PDAs and iPods making music, with the Linux-powered ReWare project (which even allows you to run Pd on an old iPod), by Hans-Christoph Steiner – expect a box full of handhelds making noise Gestural Android handheld music, as I demonstrate the possibilities of the Google Android platform and G1 phone for OSC The Arduino-based Hard/Soft synth, designed by …

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