Saturday, July 05, 2008

Weekend projects

I got four (4!!) new pedal kits in the mail the other day. This week i'm set to build a Big Muff clone, a tri-boost, phaser and an overdrive. Ok, it will probably take me more like a month to get it all built, but in any case, i'm pretty excited about it.

I've started writing five songs in bits and pieces. I think it all started out as one song but began to scatter out into more like 3, or 5. We'll see. It will be fun to put together some of the stuff i'm building with some of this stuff i'm writing. Though it would be nice to have a collaborator or two.

Aside from that, I'm still working on putting together the Felted Signal Processing site, with an inaugural email to follow after it comes together and goes live. It's hard to get all this stuff done while working 60-80hrs/week at my current freelance job.

In other news, myself + three other awesome girls signed the lease on a new studio space in the East Village, only a couple blocks from my house. After I'm done with rga, I'll be over there full-time, working on web + other kinds of design projects. We are currently operating under the name Aplural. I like it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

felted signal processing update

Originally uploaded by 0x000000

I finally figured out how i want to house the hardware. For a little while I thought about placing all of it in a felted box, but decided to go with a kind of flat, felted surface for working on. It feels more natural to work over a flat surface than to try to literally reconstruct a stomp box.

More pictures available over here:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

thesis update

It's been quiet on the home front here, but the end is drawing near (2 more weeks before the final presentation on 5/7, to be exact), and there is quite a lot to update.

This project has changed a lot since its conception, but many new ideas and potential future project concepts have sprung up along the way, and I am pretty pleased with how the project at hand is shaping up.

The original plan was to embed circuitry in felt itself... something I am still interested in exploring. I wanted to design felted audio signal processing circuits that would accept an analog signal in and output it back out after running through a series of filters.

I am near completing a similar project, only I decided to begin the research from a simpler place, working my way up the ladder of experimentation.

Having said that, felted signal processing has become a set of analog signal processing circuits consisting of a chorus effect, delay effect, tremolo effect, and finally, distortion effect. The processing circuits live on pcbs instead of within the felt itself, reassigning the felt's role from circuit board to soft potentiometer. The felt is directly integrated into the hardware, allowing the user to tranform various stages of the processing circuits as the audio signal passes through the mix of natural wool and steel wool.

For example, with the tremolo circuit, there are two felted objects. One controls the rate of the tremolo, while the other controls the depth. There are also two hardware pots available for setting the initial rate/depth. The felted pots offer expressive control over base settings that the user can dial in with the hard pots, for the purpose of introducing some constants to the system. The hardware pots can also be turned all the way down, leaving the signal processing to as much instability and momentary control as desired by the user. The goal is to set a fixed range over which the felt can distort the sound.

Each effect is daisy chained to itself and may be turned on or off within the chain by a switch. However, after I have all the effects and felted controllers finished, I plan on building a 3x3 resistor mixing matrix, that will provide multiple opportunities for feedback, amplification, and attenuation of the signal. Instead of each effect simply being daisy-chained to one another, they will be tied to various nodes in a 9-celled square, each node have 2 or 4 possible routes it can travel down. It opens the the doors up to all kinds of silliness, for sure.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

snd particles

my max patch:

individual 3 millisecond sound bits at varying frequencies:

sequences of sound bits at various frequencies and playing for various durations:
5 and 10 millisecond
1 millisecond
3 millisecond
5 millisecond
10 millisecond

Friday, April 04, 2008

I just created a new space for the home of my felted audio filters. It's in development as you read, but for now I have a little page with a little description holding down the fort: (in a new window)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

img noise



this noise from one pass through the img


after 10 passes through the img

This is a very stripped down image analysis. I'm just converting the rgb value of each pixel into either a -1, 0, or 1, and then sending it into a buffer. I have a phasor object that takes a second to tween from one sample to the next, hence the rhythmic nature of the noise. These two mp3s are only playing blue and green values.

it ended up sounding like a dot matrix printer... more experiments to come.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

felt resistor + 555 timer chip

felt resistor + 555 timer chip
Originally uploaded by 0x000000

I built a simple oscillator circuit last night with a piece of conductive felt hooked up to it, which changed the output frequency when pressed or squeezed!

More about this on my thesis blog.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


i cut and pasted and moved around txt in .wav files with the help of a text editor. i even transplated parts of some sound files into other sound files. scandalous!!

original Eat
Eat 1
Eat 2

original Latch
Latch 1

original Purr
Purr 1
Purr 2
Purr 3

original Wat
Wat (meow mix)
Wat 1
Wat 2
Wat 3
Wat 4
Wat 6

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sine Waves: catch-up!

Here are a few sound files generated from driving different wave shapes through an oscillator I meant to post a couple weeks ago!

sine wave ramp-up
rectangular shaped wave ramp-up
saw tooth wave ramp-up
trapezoidal wave ramp-up
triangle wave ramp-up


Here's a few scales I put together, divided by equal temperament and just intonation:

Equal Temperament
2-note scale starting at 100Hz
4-note scale at 100Hz
5-note scale at 100Hz

Just Intonation
12-note scale, low D
12-note scale, low E
12-note scale, low F#
12-note scale, middle Ab
12-note scale, high C#

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Curated listening

I have made a few selections of sound/music that I found inspiring for various reasons.

The first is a song by the band Bowery Electric, called Out of Phase. They play with texture primarily and stretch the musical experience out in a droney, luscious fashion.

The second track is by a band from the UK, called Broadcast. The song title is Minus Two. Broadcast are well known for their ability to manipulate sounds into all kinds of textures and melodic strings.

Next is a recording I made myself of an escalator railing at the subway station in the middle of Times Square. It's a virtual symphony of mechanics.

And finally! There are a couple of selections I'd like to play from studies done by Mark Whittle, a professor at the University of Virginia. Analyzing Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation data, he was able to sonify the first 100,000 million years of the universe after the Big Bang (which, according to him, was actually the Big Flash, as the beginning of the universe started with silence, rising to a dull scream as matter pushed out ever further.. pretty neat!). This BBC article has some concise reporting on it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Listen out / Listen down

While practicing listening downwards into the inner nucleus of the buzz of hallway lights outside of my apartment door, I found myself distracted by the outer sounds I kept hearing. Therefore, before focusing on what was going on at deeper levels of fluorescent lighting, I let myself focus outwardly.

Starting from the light I was standing under and moving outwards, I became aware of the fact that once I stopped to really listen, I could hear everything from the clanging of dishes in apartment 3A to (unfortunately) my neighbor relieving himself over in 4B. Beyond this, cars were easily audible from the street out front, with a couple dog yaps and childrens' squeals piercing their way over from the building on the other side of the road. Moving further out still, I could trace the sound of more traffic rushing down the streets that criss-cross through the East Village, out towards the Williamsburg Bridge. Moving upwards, you can also detect the sound of wind swaying winter bare branches, to the flap of someone's drying rug outside of some unit above, all the way up to the dull scream of a jet slipping across the sky to I can't say where. Actually, the plane felt almost as loud as the cars cruising by out front of my building.

Having got that out of the way, it was easier to come back to think about the lowly light whose buzz nonetheless always caught my attention. It's not just these particular lights in my hallway; it's fluorescent lights with their buzz in every hallway that I've ever been in that catch my attention, specifically when I'm sitting in the stairwell trying to focus on anything to keep myself from being sick, usually around 4am after a party has gone on too long. Listening long enough, you can pick out the different layers of sound, overlapping each other like scratchy gauze. The different frequencies even seem to move in and out of phase with one another, creating a hypnotic lull of monotonous shifting audible vibrations.

For reference, here's a recording of the lights just outside my door.