Each item is assembled by hand. The mark of the maker can be found on the surface of the items, showing the efforts to manipulate materials and minimising waste. For us, an imperfect artefact for sale is preferable to a usable flaw in the dump.
This release consists of audio recordings made using circuits based on ICs (integrated circuits or ‘chips’) from the UM series. These DIY EMIs (electronic musical instruments) come from physical remixes, and are bent by design (thanks to Rob Hordijk). The demonstration schematics found in the official datasheets were built, bent, remixed, extended, multiplied and fabricated to facilitate play with a few parameters.
This release shows music composed on computer and expressed as hardware instead of recording. The circuit composition can be viewed as a form of score. The musical instrument voice is technological. The parameters available are limited. Complex frequency output can be made with both UM66 & UM3561 in spite of their obsolescence.
The UM3561 chip was designed to produce sound effects: The chip used in this circuit produces an emergency siren type sound. The UM3561 is used four times. They not synchronised. This DIY EMI has potentiometers to control voltage starve & volume as well as an on/off switch and two touch-pads per IC so that skin contacting the PCB changes resistance and timing/frequency.
The UM66 chip was designed to play popular monophonic melodies: The chip used in this circuit plays Für Elise. The UM66 is used two times. They not synchronised. This DIY EMI has potentiometers to control voltage starve & volume as well as a switch to change the ‘bent’ character of the sound.
These DIY EMIs require a 3v CR2032 battery for power. The output is a mono mini jack (3.5mm). Play with rhythm, melody & noise.
Companion Boxes and Companion Blocks are circuit bent DIY electronic musical instruments. They are the product of practicing hardware remixing. In this exercise; circuits designed to process signals have been transformed into signal generators.
The sounds they make depend on the circuit that is used. The devices made and used on this recording are based on multi-effects processors by the Zoom company.
Companion Boxes are enclosed in VHS cassette tape boxes. Each uses feedback as their core method of sound generation. Some have extra points of interest made available to increase the tonal variety available to the performer.
Companion Blocks are enclosed in hollowed out wood (salvaged 2×6 timber offcuts) with a plastic control surface. Blocks also use feedback to create sound. All blocks have points of interest added to the surface for creating more tones. Blocks also contain an amplifier and speaker and can be powered by 9v battery, making them portable.
Each of the studies presented here demonstrate the range of tones and textures that can be created by the instruments. All sounds are created by the Boxes & Blocks. Effects were avoided*. The only studio manipulation of the direct-to-disk audio recordings was to adjust volumes and movement in the stereo field.
The aim is to encourage others to create their own hardware remixes, circuit bent instruments and feedback systems. A guide has been produced to assist other makers.
Toneburst wishes to publish sound creations made by other makers.
*Traces of copycat echo appear on track A1 – Industrial Chemistry Newton