Sunday, January 11, 2009

SuperForester Chris Presents: A Beginner's Guide to Circuit Bending!

Dear SuperForest,

My name is Chris!

Granted, this isn't my first appearance in SFHQ (I'm already rolling in some cool acronyms! Just kidding.), but I figured an introduction would be nice. I, like many, stumbled on this website while sifting through a new favorite musician's blog, and I was hooked. I think within a week I had read close to every post. I was attracted to the immense style, positivity and kind vibes. SuperForest became a safe haven of the internet!

To be honest, I feel extremely out of my league with such an awesome crew to begin with. I am a rookie! Everyone starts somewhere, and needless to say SF is an extremely welcoming environment. One that I'm so excited to write, share, and explore with such cool people in.

And with that, I'd like to share a little story:

My friend, SuperForester Matthew, and I have recently gotten ourselves into circuit bending.

From Wikipedia:

"Circuit bending is the creative, short-circuiting of electronic devices such as low voltage, battery-powered guitar effects, children's toys and small digital synthesizers to create new musical or visual instruments and sound generators. Emphasizing spontaneity and randomness, the techniques of circuit bending have been commonly associated with noise music, though many more conventional contemporary musicians and musical groups have been known to experiment with "bent" instruments. Circuit bending usually involves dismantling the machine and adding components such as switches and potentiometers that alter the circuit."

And that's just what we did. We picked up an old child's keyboard from the Goodwill store (any DIYer's heaven) for six dollars. We took a walk to a local electronics wholesale shop and bought anything we could think of. The two women working there thought our complete lack of basic electronics knowledge was "cute." It probably was.

We walked back home, set up a small workshop in Matthew's room, complete with an open window and an air cleaner/fan (you don't want to breathe in solder smoke!), dismantled the keyboard, touched terminal to terminal with alligator clips until we found desir able sound-altering effects, soldered components like toggle switches, potentiometers, and even 1/4 inch stereo cables for electric instruments into these points. A guitar sounds awful through a toy circuit, believe me.

All in all, we had a super fun afternoon. We never realized how accessible a "hobby" could be. All it took was walking around town and a desire to have fun.

Here's a video we took. If you can get over the TERRIBLE quality and the home movie style, I bet you can see how much we were enjoying it. And how much you can too.

With love,

(Jackson here... Amazing post, Chris!
I got all excited about circuit bending and found these cool videos on youtube:

Furby sounds forlorn. Cheer up, Furby.

Also! Just found this gallery of mp3 examples of circuit bending via makezine.

1 comment:

jaell said...

Hey, I don't know if you remember my post from awhile back about 8-bit music, but it is pretty much about circuit bending.

if you're interested...