Friday, March 28, 2014

Circuit Bent Speak and Spell

I've been working on this Speak and Spell off and on for a month. I still have some cosmetic stuff to do to it, some final tweeks to some of the component values, and add body contacts which...I still kinda have to figure out because I'm running out of room for parts on the enclosure. I bought this thing several years back to bend but never really got around to it so somewhere within that time period and moving I lost the back cover so I created my own clear PET G cover by vacuforming the back cover of a Speak and Math I have. This device has a lot of sound possibilities. The 2 white knobs are 12 way switches. One switches between loop/hold points and the other between glitch points. The green button below each 12 way switch momentarily engages the bend and the toggle switch above the 12 way switch locks the bend in....This way you can kind of test and find sounds with the momentary button before engaging it with the toggle. The big silver and black knob controls the pitch/tempo of the instrument.  The switch on the right side of the S&S near the top is the POWER/RESET switch/ which has a green indicator LED connected to it to show you the S&S and the LFOs have power going to them. The 3 switches in the handle of the S&S from left to right are... another loop/hold that's more distorted and heavy than the loops on the 12 way switch. The next switch is a really high pitched drone that eventually will build and crash the machine. The other switch is a lower drone that follows the rhythm of the S&S. The toggle switch at the top left is another glitch switch that glitches are activated when you press the letter keys on the S&S. All other knobs and switches control a color changing LED. There are 3 sets of identical controls for each color...RED, GREEN, AND BLUE.  This is like having 3 LFOS(LFOs are LOW FREQUENCY OSCILLATORS!) control one aspect of the sound, which in this case is tempo/pitch. Each one of these colors has an on/off switch(located on the left side), a switch that toggles between flashing and steady on, a brightness knob, and a flash rate knob to control how fast the colors are changing. More info, photos, and videos coming soon as I finish it up. Also coming soon.......Weird time lapse video of me building a Circuit Bent Munchkin Cheer Leading Doll with built in 8 step sequencer. Some video and audio of me playing drums in the studio along with some of my electronic instruments, MORE TUTORIALS.



Here are two tutorials I did for my residency at Winchester Thurston School.
The first is how to make an electric thumb piano using: Bicycle spokes, cigar boxes, and grounding bars. The second is on modifying/circuit bending tape players and creating cassette tape loops. Hope you enjoy and use these to make something yourself!



Friday, March 21, 2014


Lately I've been teaching 8th graders at Winchester Thurston School how to make electric thumb pianos! Next we are going to: modify tape players so we can control the speed and pitch of the tape, circuit bend them to make new weird sounds, add input jacks so we can use them as amplifiers for our thumb pianos, and create tape loops so we can use the tape recorders as samplers/loopers.

Here's some pictures of the thumb pianos!
They're made out of cigar boxes and recycled bicycle spokes!

Want to make your own Electric Thumb Piano?
Here's a tutorial I made!