lørdag den 15. december 2012

Wavetable Synthesizer

Hi again everyone! Now that our Christmas holidays are finally here (which means 30 days of exclusive time for inebriation, soldering and socializing.) I have some time to share one of my ongoing, and finally finished, projects I've been working on during this autumn. A wavetable/waveform synthesizer.

Encased version

Test with protoboard.

It's an idea I had during my summer in Norway, where I had plenty of time to study which projects I wanted to indulge in on my study and I came across the 4017 IC, originally for a 10-stage step sequencer for sending CV to various stuff. But then I thought, if one turned the clock frequency up to the audio range then the scaled voltage from the 4017 counter pins would result in a user defined waveform. Of course, I read the exact same thing in Nic Collins' book some days later. I guess he covers all possible ideas in that book! Amazing.

Anyways, I had some faders from a scrap stereo, through which I sent the outputs from the counter and combined it to one single output. The Big knob on the left is a sketchy unstable frequency pot and the smaller knob on the left is an RC LP filter, where I replaced the R with a variable resistor. It cuts quite a lot of the amplitude when it's turned all the way down but it works well enough. I am quite pleased with the final result.

VIDEO:



I am using DIY Layout Creator for creating comprehensible layouts for soldering the final circuits, for anyone interested here's the blueprints. Have a nice Yule holiday! :)

tirsdag den 13. november 2012

Concerto for Floppy Disks

As you might've seen in my showcase-video for DIEM, I've been experimenting with recording sound to the magnetic tape inside floppy disks. Since I first saw it done by Jeri Ellsworth, I've been in love with the odd combination of obsolete consumer electronics and analog sound effect box.
I joined the forums on Open Music Labs where we discussed how to get this to work.
About a year ago, I got it working (watch here) and since, I've been contemplating how to make this into a proper music instrument.

This month, I was asked if I had some new material ready for a yet another concert at the Music Academy in Aarhus. Fortunately, I'd just finished a floppy disk drive, I wanted to encase, and decided to make an entire concert with just the floppy drive.



I used a 555-timer circuit for stepping the stepper-motor and a switch for selecting between auto-step (555) and manually advancing the stepper with a push-button. Then there's a switch for selecting between two mini-jack connectors so one can quickly switch between in- and output signals, as it is only possible to either playback or record sound from the disk. I powered both the drive and the timer-circuit with good 2950 mA batteries.
We tried to put together a op-amp circuit with a TL072 operation amplifier but we didn't get any sound from it. As I had to have something ready for the concert, I disassembled an old walkman instead, and encased it in a wodden box with input and output, very minimalistic.

The direct sound from the drive can be experienced here, it's going through an EQ on my mixer, nothing else is done. Just the raw sound from the disc.

Concerto for Floppy Disks (excerpt) by dogenigt


 The evening of the concert approached and I brought an old Sine Wave Generator I got from my friends dad, who's a physics teacher. I think it's from the 50's, danish design and all - just gorgeous!
I used it for adding a ground note to the concert and also for recording directly to the disc.
I had a cassette tape player with me aswell, which I used for playing audio to be recorded on the disc.

 

I think it went really well, it was a great way to test how the floppy drive works in the context of live performance. I had a great time and was absorbed in the hypnotic tape-distorted rhytms on stage.
My brother was so kind as to come and document the concert on tape. The event was 1 hour, with 3 artists performing, so we had 20 minutes each, where I decided to it was time to faded to black after 15 minutes.
So the full concert is recorded for your pleasure :)
Enjoy!


UPDATE:
In the future there'll be a post around a Floppy Drive Sampler v2.0 but so far, here's a schematic I've drawn around the build. It's an old idea of how I wanted a finished build to be, the op-amps doesn't make a lot of sense but you can use the drawing to wire up the stepper motor and heads.



onsdag den 7. november 2012

An electromagnetic week with Christina Kubisch

A month ago, we had Christina Kubisch visitting the academy for a workshop during the week. She'd brought her custom made headphones with induction coils and some special amplifiers which allows the person wearing the headphones this temporary ESP of all the hidden magnetic fields constantly surrounding the urban population. In other words, the coils pick up the electromagnetic radiation from various electronic devices, powerlines, generators etc. and translate it into audiable signals for the listener.

Listening to LED commercials with Kubisch and Kaj
It turns the city into one giant instrument, or a stage with various objects one can wander around and listen to. Cash machines become vintage syntheseizers, supermarkets turn into weird alien spaceships and everything with lightbulbs or LEDs become morse-codish messages.

The first day, was spent on trying out the equipment and getting to know the interesting places in Aarhus. The next days we drew maps for 'Electric Walks' for each other. Making compositions with the city, plotting in several hot spots worth listening to.



Electric Walk Map drawn for train station and shopping center.

We recorded each walk and combined them into one giant compostion, and it actually turned out really well! The sounds created harmonies with each layer. Then we made a compostion each, with the best material according to us. At friday night we held a minor venue where people could listen to the compositions we'd made with the sounds from the workshop.





Here's my composition:

Veins of The Robot by dogenigt

It includes sounds from ATM's, parking-ticket machines, trainstations, cars, hi-fi stores, automatic stairs in shopping malls etc. Thanks to Christina for a very interesting workshop!



lørdag den 20. oktober 2012

Virgin Concert at The Academy

The first week at DIEM we plunged right into what it is all about: we had to prepare a concert for the weekend under the annual Aarhus Festival. I decided to combine all the elements from my application video (as shown in my first blog entry) into a useful setup on stage. I had help from my fellow student, Sebastian Edin, to feed audio into the 'Stomach', which is the name of my Max/MSP patch responsible for combining all the chunks of sound into a weird regurgitation of the sound on stage.

My brother was so kind as to bring his video camera and eternalize the moment.



I was very thrilled with this performance, it's the first time it really works out for me with this patch and it was just a giant playground with all the possibilities we had up there. The big band before us left their instruments on stage so Sebastian could bring the mic around and record the various instruments.

Here's some shortcuts for some of the more interesting parts in the video:
00:45 - Tuning the system - weird animal noises!
12:05 - Force-feeding the 'Stomach' and Sebastian on Joystick.
16:02 - Sebastian feeding with percussion.
19:37 - Mallet jam and Arduino scrubber.
25:57 - Open piano and Strings.
33:05 - Fooling around.

To tell a bit about the technical details behind this setup, I combined all audio inputs (mic, theremin, the homemade string instruments and contact mics) to a small behringer mixer, the output going into the soundcard, as the drawing shows. I wanted some tactile control for Max, so I built some sensors for my arduino board and I used a flight simulator joystick with a nice 16-bit resolution.

Preperation of Arduino-based controller (left) and drawing of the setup before realization. (right)


For the arduino controls, I used a DC-motor reading from one of the analog inputs - the current is either positive or negative depending on which way your turn the motor. This made it into a nice rotary encoder, using only 1 AIN. I used it for scrubbing in a short audio buffer in Max. A photo-resistor was used to control feedback of a delay and I had 2 potentiometres for LP and HP filters.
The joystick controls a variable waveform-oscillator, the X-axis determines the waveform from square to sine, the Y-axis is distortion of the waveform, twisting the stick opens up 2 filters for letting out the sound.
The bassdrum-like sound you can hear is a simple sine-wave with a pitch curve. :)


onsdag den 17. oktober 2012

First Entry: A little bit about Dögenigt

Hi fellow avant-gardiste, passionate tinckler or abstract thinking composer. Whoever you are, I guess you must hold some sort of interest for weird sound and electronically generated music.
I'd like to tell you a little bit about what I do.

In november 2011 I applied for an education here in Denmark under The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus. As the only Music Academy in Denmark, they have a department for studies in electronic music. Each year, a small handful of composers are picked out, to attend DIEM (Danish Institute of Electronic Music) where there's classes in acoustics, aesthetics, studio technique and general guidance and support for each student by a personal "mentor".

At the point of my application, I'd been making a lot of electronic music - for nearly 10 years - and in 2008 my artistic outlet culminated with 5 releases under my former alter ego, 'Sövnigt Sind'.

(All Sövnigt Sind releases are available for download and streaming here:)





But I got tired of making these fixed arrangements on my computer with which I couldn't do anything but press on the play-button on stage, so I started looking into Max/MSP - I have a friend who's a mastermind with patching in Max - and got pretty good at building the software I wanted.
Here's some recordings I did with my patches, under my 'Paleorama' project.
Paleorama on Soundcloud

I searched for ways to control my patches with controllers, to get a tactile connection with my music, looked into the MidiBox project, which was quickly getting mentally replaced with an Arduino board (with a nice 10-bit resolution), then I fell in love with DIY electronics, effect boxes and circuit boards in all shapes and shades, which gave me these unpredictable and "authentic" sounds that I felt the computer lacked a bit of.

Basically one thing led to another, and I decided to shoot a video for my application to DIEM, showing my journey away from the computer as a fixed composition-machine to an instrument which spits out unique sound every time you "pick it up" - just like any other instrument one would play.
Here's the video I applied with.

 

In march, while I was travelling Nepal, I received a mail from the academy saying that I was amongst the 4 persons they decided to let in this year! That made my journey so much better! Right now, I've been attending for about 2 months and it's a just the perfect setting for my musical and artistic process right now.
Thank your for your time! Stay tuned.

Love,
Dani Dögenigt