The Haunted House

Friday, February 09, 2007

Circuit Bending

Now my latest Creature album is completed and out the door, it's time to move onto the next project. This one involves lots of lo-fi sounds. To get these unique sounds I need to venture into the world of circuit bending. So what is this? Well I will tell you.

Circuit bending is the art of getting an old electronic toy, re-wiring the inside to make it sound strange / bizare / alien / crap. I have never tried circuit bending before, and I havn't even used a soldering iron since school. But what the fuck, time to give it a go. A while ago Amanda got hold of my first victim, a Yamaha PSS-80.

I started by taking the front off to get to the circuit board inside. The case opened easily, but the key rack becomes loose when you take the front off, and it is only attached to the circuit board with a very fragile looking ribbon cable. So you have to be quite careful.

To find suitable bends on the board you just have to get a length of cable and prod it against different joints on the board until you hear something interesting. The first interesting bend I found enables the rhythem section when you press a key. I attached a 'push-to-make' switch to the relevent parts of the circuit board. So when you are playing the keyboard and press the button, the drums kick in.

Another bend I found was a handy circuit reset. I wired this upto another 'push-to-make' switch. This was handy as some of the probing caused the whole circuit to crash, so pressing this reset the board. I also added a 1/4 inch jack socket to the back so I can plug the keyboard into the mixer.

You'll see in the pic below where I have mounted the buttons and switches on the front of the keyboard. Done simply by drilling a hole in the case.

I am still working on this circuit bend. I did a bit of a search on the net for this particular keyboard, and it turns out that I have picked quite a difficult keyboard to bend for my first project, ho hum. There are some interesting short circuits I can try including drum glitches and a high pass filter. I shall try these soon.

I'll post up some sound sample soon to show what a circuit bend instrument can sound like, and what you can do with some of the samples. Most of you will think I am odd doing this, but there is a reason which I shall reveal when I have made more progress.



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