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Category Archives: Instruments

Loving this build by Dennis P Paul, an instrument that uses the profile of everyday objects to trigger loops.

Something new for Cornwall!

A hacker space for anyone, based at the Tremough Campus University College Falmouth.

If your interested in joining us here is a link to the site:


The video above is a proof of concept for a kinect guitar pedal project I have begun in collaboration with Jem Mackay another technical instructor at UCF. The general plan is to use the kinect controller to trigger as much functionality as possible within the software Logic Mainstage. MainStage is capable of doing some awesome things such as live loop recording, backing track control and the main feature which intend to utilise which is the live guitar effects processing. From the video above I intend to work on the sensitivity of the pedal so that using the pedal feels more tangible. The pedals functionality is pointless if it does not perform fast and accurately enough to fulfil the needs of the live performer. Eventually it might be good to add some sort of visual feedback to show where the pedals are. This could be done using a mini projector to project the pedal boundaries and the function on to the floor where the guitarist is standing.

We were very lucky recently to have Kim Cascone visit UCF.

Wikipedia says it better than I ever could: Kim Cascone

Kim was a very intense and provocative speaker who there was no doubt in my mind had tremendous passion for his work and field of expertise. He seemed to be hyper observant at a level where no detail was left unscrutinised. He took us on journeys through past memories reminiscent of the tiniest details, from the intrusive tones of coins dropping on to the hard sidewalk to noise of the birds agitated and overactive. I was really impressed by his work with World Building. Never before had I thought about the complexities of the sound design behind films. Kim explained what he called scope and focus as key concepts to understanding the situation of the listener. From his explanation my interpretation of these concepts goes as follows:

Focus is a directional aim of attention from the listener on certain points in the environment. The scope is the almost like the circumference around the focus point, the bigger the scope the larger the area where the listener is able to the sounds is. I am sure that my definition is not quite right but the way I imagine this to look visually is almost like a cone protruding away from the listener with the wide end furthest away. as the scope and focus gets larger and less specific the end of the cone becomes larger allowing a lot more sounds to be heard. If the cone’s base becomes smaller then the listener can really focus in on very specific sounds.

I was very interested in the battle that seemed to be persistant in Kim’s work between the auditory field being 3D and the stereo recording which exists only in 2D. Kim used the term ‘grain’ to explain how if done well a stereo 2D signal can be amplified to a 3D experience by the user. Grain follows the listener, past experiences and sensations amplify and reconstruct the 2D signal.

A small blog entry won’t do this man justice so if you ever get the chance to see Kim talk then it is well worth going.

For a while now I have been messing around with what I have called a domestic appliance sequencer. I think I have photos of it on this blog (the start of it). I have not had time to improve it or work on the software and now youtube user arcattack has beaten me to it. The project is very effective though there are some very impressive, percussive sounds being produced.

Touche mr arcattack!

A morning spent murdering Nirvana – come as you are.

A couple of months ago a good friend bought me a stylophone for my birthday. I had a blast snarling out noises that were close to songs we all know and love. unfortunately due to my clumsy inaccurate nature I have never managed to play a whole song at the correct tempo with out playing wrong notes. The novelty soon wore off and the stylophone was left to gather dust on a shelf in my office.

I have a list of tasks as long as my arm to do at work but this morning when I got in the motivation levels were at an all time low. Instead of doing anything useful I decided it was time time to put the stylophone to good use. Knowing that my ability to  manipulate the stylus over those circuit board keys was never gonna improve I decided I would cheat and automate the circuit connections that are made when the stylus connects with one of the keys.

The video attached shows the result of todays procrastination. So far I have only automated 10 of the keys direct from the arduino.if I get time in the near future I will extend its functionality using an 8bit shift register so that the arduino can play all the keys. I also intend to write a processing sketch interface so that inputting songs is easier and more intuitive (and not murderous to classic rock songs).

Written using swype on htc feature hd

Everybody loves bubbles so i figured this is probably the best way to start a Monday morning.


project by Georg Reil and Kathy Scheuring, January 2010
University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt

This project was built using Arduin and The project has a beautifully unique and playful take on sound manipulation. I especially love the bucket but you will have to watch it to know what i mean!

I have been busy running through ideas for automated instruments I could use to enrich my performances at open mic nights. One of the main points of interest for me is percussion as it is usually quite over looked at open mic nights apart from the occasional set of bongos. I have been drawing up sketches for a snare drum played using dropping marbles and also for a cassette player hack. The main hurdle for any automated instrument is how will it be sequenced to play itself. Last night I sat down for a while and coded a very very basic sequencer in processing that controlled an Arduino with Firmata installed. There is nothing fancy about the code but I believe this will be a good solid starting point for most of the automated instruments I could ever imagine. There are some images below of the basic setup and a video of the sequencer on the screen and the Arduino carrying out the sequence using LED’s. I am quite happy to publish the source code on request.

This made me smile so I thought i would post it. One of the projects I am working on at the minute is a snare drum that is played using marbles dropping from shoots. I had been wondering how to return the marbles to the top of the shoot until I saw this video posted on Its such a simple idea I cant wait to see if it will work for my project!

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