Lunchbeat is a 1-bit Groovebox You Can Make Yourself

Friends bragging lately about the quality of the sound of their drum machines? Tell them you can make sounds lower fidelity than they can. LUNCHBEAT is a 1-bit groovebox, making impossibly-dirty digital sounds, with a built-in step sequencer. While we await a proper DIY kit, it’s an ideal learning project: it’s nice and simple, has a low part count, everything you need as far as specs is available free to create your own, and it’s a good way to work out the basics of digital sound and sequencing. And, really, if you need more than one bit to make music, …

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Part Sculpture, Part Sound: New Work by Tristan Perich, Lesley Flanigan [Videos, Listening]

From top: Tristan Perich’s new piano with 1-bit masterpiece, Lesley Flanigan surrounded by her creations. All images courtesy the artists. Sound may be invisible, setting the air around us aquiver with little visible evidence. But the objects that make sound are physical, and no electronic music is virtual. Composer/musician/sound artists Lesley Flanigan and Tristan Perich continue to explore that material substance of sound, calling attention to the stuff of the media in its purest form. Lesley’s work focuses on the basic technique of amplification; Tristan’s on digital electronics in their rawest sense, 1-bit songs of microcontrollers in chorus. The two …

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Bleep Drum Machine Gets MIDI, $110 Assembled, Glories of “Rad-Fi” Digital [Gallery]

In the box, inside the world of the computer, sound has few limits. It’s clean, it’s pristine; mimicking perfectly-miked drum kits or high-fidelity sounds is as easy as dialing in the gigs of samples you’ve assembled. But … wait a minute. It’s too clean. There’s something beautiful about a digital circuit, screaming and crunching as it cranks out every last bit. Those bits … hurt. There’s some personality to a peculiar machine that seems like it crawled out of a heap of circuit boards, staring back at you, blinking – winking? And in that world of anthropomorphic alien sound machines, …

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Monster 16×12 Grid Step Sequencer Hardware, Built with Arduino

For some, there’s the step sequencer you dream of. Maybe it has a massive array of buttons for patterns, capable of spreading musical ideas across a lit grid. Maybe every last rhythm is visible, maybe it juggles layers and patterns with ease. Ryan B just went and built what he wanted. Under the moniker RNInstruments, he constructed a killer hardware step sequencer with a massive 16×12 grid. And this isn’t like a monome – or Push, or Launchpad, or the like – in that it is truly standalone MIDI hardware. You don’t need any computer, period. See the walkthrough above …

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Synth of the Weekend: Fatduino is Sequenced Homebrew Goodness [Fat Man + Arduino]

There are wonderful oddities of synth creation breeds out there in the wild — strange, one-of-a-kind birds with three wings and forked duck-bills and other oddities. They might not all be practical for more than their creator, but like evolutionary anomalies, some adaptation or design feature might well make it into other productions – all the more reason that open schematics and permissive licenses could benefit the larger ecosystem, the rich, muddy wetland marsh of sounds. Friend and neighbor Marc Resibois points me this week to the Fatduino. It’s pertinent to our discussion of marriages between DIY synths and the …

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A Controller Love Supreme: Beautifully-Crafted Wooden Jazz Controller with Ableton Live

Nick Francis poses with his DIY, wooden controller – good enough for jazz. Photo: Justin Steyer for Seattle’s KPLU radio. In a world of disposable computers and electronics, making something “custom” is an antidote to throwaway hardware, a way of putting one’s own handiwork, care, and attention into the object with which you play music. Of course, it’s one thing to say it, and another thing to do it, but Nick Francis falls squarely in the “doer” camp. A jazz-focused radio broadcaster from Seattle’s KPLU, Nick says he’s been chopping up audio since he was doing it with razor blades …

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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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Make Your Own Video Hardware: Propeller Platform Does Video Out, Games, Advanced Audio

X Racer from Gadget Gangster on Vimeo. The Propeller Platform is open-source hardware with a mighty 8-core Parallax Propeller chip as its brain. Like the Arduino, it comes as a simple protoboard. But unlike the Arduino, the Propeller board is loaded with I/O pins and can output video and audio without much modification. It also comes with a powerful, high-level programming language called Spin, which makes coding it a bit easier. (The chip itself has a byte code interpreter.) Video output means you could use this as a visual source. The game X Racer at top is actually running on …

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Brilliant LEGO Mindstorms Drum Machine, NXT-606 – New Video

Peter Cocteau’s NXT-606, an 8-bit, sample-based drum machine built on LEGO’s Mindstorms prototyping platforming, has already been making the geek blog rounds. But let’s consider it here as more than just novelty. First, there’s a new video which better demonstrates the instrument, how it functions, and how it was developed. Second, there are design features of this project that I think are worth admiring beyond the sheer “because you can” achievement (which is, I’ll admit, formidable, as well). Brilliant, minimal design: Peter cleverly consolidates controls on two knobs, as seen in the new video, without requiring laborious menu navigation or …

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Chip-Style Guitar Pulse Width, Arduino CV Sequencer You Can Build

Guitarist Joey Mariano is making a unique hybrid sound, blending guitar chops with sonic techniques borrowed from 8-bit chip music. His latest adventure filters the sound of the guitar through pulse width filtering, the likes of which are used to modulate the sound of pulse/rectangle waves in chip music composition. The invention he’s devised to do this, though, is likely to appeal to anyone wanting to work with CV. Using the Arduino platform, it’s an elegant design for a control voltage sequencer, as seen on classic modulars like the Moog. And since he’s posted full specs and Arduino code, you …

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