Autonomous Electro-musical Devices

Circuit-bending is tons of fun. The basic idea is that you take parts of any old electronic device, say a cheap toy keyboard, and probe all around with wires and resistors, disturbing its normal functioning and hoping to get something cool. And then you make art or music or whatever out of it. But that’s a lot of work. What you really need is a circuit-bending robot!

Or at least that’s what [Gijs Gieskes] needed, when he took apart a horrible Casio SA-5 and grafted on enough automatic glitching circuitry to turn it into a self-playing musical sculpture. It’s random, but somehow it’s musical. It’s great stuff. Check out the video below to see what we mean.

We also love the way the autonomous glitching circuit is just laid over the top of the original circuitboard. It looks like some parasite out of Aliens. But with blinking LEDs.

There were no details on the website, so we wrote [Gijs] and asked.

There is a 40106 used for oscillators, these oscillators trigger keys on the keyboard, then after a while one oscillator starts short circuiting the crystal, making the keyboard crash. Then it usually gets stuck in some random sequence or loop. Then after a while it cuts the power of the keyboard for a short moment making it reset and start over.

As for a circuit diagram:

Its kind of “prototype and then glue it on” and just keep adding functions till it works in a nice way. Like composing.

A man after our own hearts! In fact, the basic circuit elements he’s talking about were the basis of our Logic Noise series. If you’re interested, check it out. We like software (and firmware) as much as the next coder, but there’s something to be said for experimenting around with the physical. And we’re looking forward to seeing more instruments added to the “perma-patch” section of [Gijs] site.

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