The Bent festival, which begins tonight in New York City, is a celebration of DIY musical instruments. Artists from all over converge to beep, blip, and strum for your pleasure. With a heavy emphasis on hacking your own instruments, this is definitely something we’re interested in. If you’ve only heard a little bit of circuit bending and didn’t like it, you may want to give it a try anyway. The musical genres are extremely diverse, it’s not all just random noise.
Pitchfork.tv is showing the documentary Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet for one week only. The Blip Festival is an annual chiptune event in New York City featuring musicians who use video game consoles as part of their production. The documentary has a ton of artist interviews and music from all across the spectrum. Most of the initial featured artists are using the Game Boy LSDJ tracker cartridge. [Nullsleep] has put together a tutorial for the device. You’ll see a lot of other old hardware and hear discussions of coveted mods like adding backlights as well. [Mark Denardo] is shown using a PSP as part of his performance. Other people are using software like Fruity Loops to build tracks with Nintendo samples. Honestly, our favorite part was a clip of the loud objects doing a live soldering circuit bending performance on top of an overhead projector at the Bent Festival. Although not musical, Element Labs’ Versa TILE makes a fairly mesmerizing backdrop throughout the film too. You can find links to all the featured artists on last year’s festival page.
Blip Festival 2008 happens December 4-6 in Brooklyn, NY.
[photo: ziggy fresh]
[Pete Edwards] and [Fred Owsley] openly admitted that the title was the most thinly veiled audience-bait ever constructed. Nevertheless, they poured through a great talk covering the basics of circuit bending and some of the pieces they had built over the years. Fred said that what attracts him to circuit bending is the hands on approach to something very scientific i.e. he can figure out how to construct an interesting circuit by rubbing his finger along the back of the board. As far as where to start: always a battery powered device and use the toy store as a last resort. You’re going to tear the thing apart so why pay for it? Dumpster diving, garage sales, swap meets, and flea markets are all places to look. Parts don’t need to be anything better than grab bag either. They suggested an easy first step is dropping the operating voltage of your device and seeing how it reacts. Pete and Fred had several examples of devices they’ve modified: Speak & Spells, Casio SA keyboards, Barbi karaoke machines, and the voice changing gas mask pictured above.
The Bent Festival for circuit bending is coming up soon if you’d like to see more. You can also check out these links for more information on circuit bending.