“We were absolved of a life of mediocrity because we couldn’t play,” says Iggy Pop about 16 minutes into this interview with Thurston Moore. Crucial memories of the Psychadelic Stooges in this video include oil drum percussion strategies, vacuum cleaner/ air compressor wind synthesis, water jug gongs, and a great discussion of repurposing a bummer of an amp that Iggy bought by knocking it over and enjoying the clang of the reverb.
Category Archives: synthesizers
The guy who founded the online forum Muffwiggler passed away. His vision of a forum to make modular synths accessible has been really meaningful to a lot of people and has corresponded with the rise in Eurorack. He had been an opaque figure for me – a mostly unknown founder with a basement full of rare synths. With his passing a number of interesting videos have emerged including this one which gives Mike a chance to talk about the origins of the forum and reflect on the often consumerist nature of modular synths.
This video by the guitar pedal manufacuters Earthquake devices is particularly good. Featuring Money Mark (artist and famed Beastie Boys collaborator) in a laboratory with some created tools to make music.
This is a very enjoyable trip to Bastl instruments in the Czech Republic. Host Cuckoo is a charming interviewer and Bastl instruments showcase a people-oriented business.
My anticipation is that we’ll meet a lonely Eastern European modular maker, but what unfolds is a robust community has grown dramatically. Includes the boss describing how to avoid “poop face,” a woman modulating with a baby strapped on, Bastl’s boutique coffee plans, and a business where everyone is a musician. No really, it seems like *everyone* is a musician at Bastl.
Best part of the video is a chance to get some perspective from Peter Edwards (Casper Electronics) a circuit-bending scientist whose website has inspired a lot of people, including myself.
I continue to learn about digital noise-making. I’ve been soldering and bread-boarding synthesizers and noise-boxes for the last year. Along the way I’ve found a few cool motivations and inspirations.
1. I found Peter Blasser and his musical wizardry through an essay he wrote about making electronic instruments for a small child for econtact. At first I thought he was mocking the reader, and then I realized that the essay was deeply creative, fluid and inspiring. I spent as much time exploring the links as reading the text. This led me to Peter’s astounding limited edition home-made instruments: Ciat.lonbarde.net
Here is Blasser with a workshop about his Shnth I found enjoyable.
Blasser offers some really interesting DIY projects at his website: Peter B. I’m collecting the parts to make some paper circuits. I find his approach, openness and creative inspirational work to be sublime.
2. Since I’ve been making my own instruments I often run into disappointment. I finish something and plug in a battery and it doesn’t work. Finding motivation to keep creating when projects flop takes a little intellectual inspiration. I often turn to look at the pictures and read the notes by Chris Beckstrom. As he puts it:
My admittedly lofty goal was to build a modular synthesizer, from scratch, using basic components (no kits), with zero electronics experience. Turns out, it’s possible! I’m sharing circuits, designs, pictures, and code to help other folks realize their dream of building a modular synthesizer for themselves.
I really like that uses bolts as cheap connections instead of the costly cables for most systems. I appreciate that he lists that some of his modules aren’t working at the moment. At points where I struggled to move forward it is really gratifying to see a home-made system that seems accessible. In fact seeing creative people who aren’t deterred by lack of money or parts is helpful as I put together my machines.