Occasionally, someone will ask me where they can learn more about electronic and experimental music. While a Google search is a great place to start, here are some focused favorites to start your journey.
NEEMfest.org – Formerly the electro-music.com annual gathering in the Northeast, in 2017 the name changed to NEEMfest and was moved to the Center for the Arts in Homer, NY.
Electro-music.com – Radio programs, discussion forums, live events
Electrozone – Ithaca, NY group that puts on some great electro events.
Event Horizon Concert Series – The Event Horizon concert series is a Philadelphia, PA based concert series featuring Ambient, Electronic, Experimental and Space Music. It is held at The Rotunda on the University of Pennsylvania campus in West Philadelphia. (4014 Walnut Street.)
Cosmic Crossings – The Cosmic Crossings concerts are a series of electronic music events being held at the Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing (aka UUCWC.) Tickets for each show are $10, with all proceeds to benefit the UUCWC, which has kindly provided the venue for the series. Each concert showcases live performances by electronic musicians and bands from all over the world, playing ambient, experimental, and space music, accompanied by unique lighting and multimedia visual effects.
National Electronics Museum – Hosts an annual electronica music event in November.
120 Years – The history of electronic music from 1800 to 2015
Encyclotronic – Electronic Music Archive
Moog Foundation Archives – There’s much more to electronic music than Bob Moog, but this is a great resource.
Buchla.com – Dedicated to innovator Don Buchla.
Muffwiggler – Forums, discussion.
Music from Outerspace – Analog synth DIY site developed by Ray Wilson.
Radio Spiral – Streaming radio for electro of many genres.
Star’s End – Ambient radio, with many links to the community.
Soma-FM – Radio shows, articles and more.
Hearts of Space – The program that started it all for many of us!
Echoes – Music for the chillout of the night. Another seminal program that continues to inspire.
On 2/3/17 I took some of my home made noise makers to school for show and tell. Here’s the results!
I’ve been posting a lot of my piezo experiments. Enjoy!
12/22/16 – The LED Panner is another fun circuit from the great book “Handmade Electronic Music” by Nicolas Collins.
This circuit uses a single 74C14 Hex Schmitt Trigger chip, taking advantage of only a few pins (so you could to much more with this). LEDs paired with photo resistors create an optically controlled circuit which is designed to switch audio off and on in a flip-flop or ping-pong type motion. A single dial adjusts the speed of the effect. You can use just one side of the device for a mono signal, or in stereo, though stereo is where you get the neatest effects.
I always seem to do the most building during the holiday season, hence the Christmas themed box. The initial breadboard prototype went together rather quickly, so it wasn’t long before I had everything in the box. The hardest part was deciding on a physical layout for the LED/photoresistors, as they take up a lot of space. I would probably try a different orientation if I built one of these again, but this works fine.
The unit below with the green knob is the same unit as the one with the red knob. Only difference is that at first I didn’t add an on/off switch. That was added later and I changed the knob because I thought it matched the case better.
I built this device as an addition to my constantly evolving electronic/experimental music soundscape table, which you can hear on my Soundcloud page. Recordings featuring this device coming soon.
12/9/16 – The Xmas Fly is a riff on the Black Fly, which is basically nothing more than a piezo element and a few parts in a nice box. The Black Fly includes springs, which cause interesting vibrations for the piezo to pick up.
To make springs work you need a very solid box that can hold up to the hardware. I didn’t have such a box, so I used one of my Christmas tins and made this into more of an ambient pickup rather than a device that created it’s own sound. Youtube shows several hacks for the Black Fly, so all I needed was an interior photo of the build from one of those videos, and the rest was easy.
The piezo is set in place with Guerrilla Glue. The filter capacitor value was a bit tricky. First attempt with a 10pF cap showed no filtering effect. I couldn’t make out what they were using in the photo, so I checked with my dad who advised based on his experience with similar circuits, “try .01uF to .05uF. The pot could be 50K more or less… ” The second attempt with a .022uF Mylar cap works well!
What’s it for? This can be used as a pickup for all sorts of sounds around the studio, basically like a low-fi mic. The filter acts as a tone control, which is necessary to roll off some of the harshness of the piezo. Paired with a proper DI box, this can be a very effective tool for sound design. The larger form factor and thinner metal also gives this much different properties from a Black Fly, though I would still like to build one of those when I have the materials.
To hear this in action, check out some of my piezo sound scapes.
On April 30 Pepperhead Studios presented entertainment by our family of artists for Bloomsburg’s Mini Maker Faire. Special thanks to Scott Canouse and Roxanne Zuber for taking pictures that day! Here’s some highlights.
Our featured drummer for the event was Urie Kline from Lyco Taiko. Urie has recorded on Mike Hickey’s album “55 and Sunny” and has been working on demos with the Ed Zuber Project and other Pepperhead artists.
Our percussionist was Safa Saracoglu, who also performs with jazz ensemble Negodniki and with the Susquehanna Valley Folk Dance Society.
For more about these Pepperhead Studios releases, visit the sites below: