Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bent Circuit Training

Circuit Bending

Students learn the art of Furby reprogramming in a circuit bending workshop with Ben Goldstone. Below, an adept demonstrates the fruits of circuit bending knowledge as applied to a Kawasaki toy guitar.

cicuit bent "Double Neck" kawasaki toy guitar

Kawasaki motorcycle company licensed DSI Toys to use their name on a line of musical products. Unfortunately it's difficult to find online info about these particular electronic toys. If your interested in circuit bending and modifications to electronic sound toys here are some links worth exploring: Guitar Toy Museum - a small picture gallery of electronic guitar toys. - a private collection of rare small music keyboards and vintage musical electronic toys.
WarrantyVoid - the electronic sound toy and keyboard modification site.
Wikipedia Circuit bending - provides info and links to other websites.

If you're looking for online virtual sound toys and interactive music guides see the Museum of Sound Toys.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Recycled Culture: David Ellis and the Art of Double Bass

This work by artist David Ellis combines the body of a double bass with modern day audio hardware and electronics.

SKDubs gold (double bass boombox fiddle)

36 x 50 1/2 x 17"

Medium-modified double bass fiddle, spraypaint, casters, oak, plywood, metal, iPod, two tube pre-amps, B and C mids and tweeters, Electro-voice woofers, JVC tweeters, Crown XLS 602 Poweramp, and Behringer equalizer - 2005.

Via where you can find lots more interesting and arty contemporary designs.

The Double Bass

Along with classical music, the double bass has found its place in genres such as the blues, bluegrass, jazz, rock and roll, rockabilly, psychobilly, drum and bass. It has been used widely in pop and rock music on recordings by artists like Kate Bush, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and Frank Zappa. A well known example being the Lou Reed song "Walk on the Wild Side" where session musician Herbie Flowers created the distinctive sounding bass hook, by using a mix of old and new sounds. He recorded one part on acoustic upright and then overdubbed a crossing part a major tenth above on electric fretless bass. The song was later recycled by other artists including A Tribe Called Quest who used a sample of it in "Can I Kick it?" - You can just about hear it on the intro of the video remix below. For more examples of recordings using double bass, see this thread from the TalkBass forums discussing Examples of Upright in Pop Music.


David Ellis's work evokes some interesting perceptions through the marriage of old and new world technologies.

At first site the juxtaposition creates a slight element of cognitive dissonance, a clash between the older acoustic culture and the contemporary electronic culture. However, the sense of discomfort is lessened by the idea the two cultures are not completely contradictory. The fundamental function of sound reproduction, for the purpose of music and entertainment, remains intact. In fact the instrument has merely been rewired, the strings replaced by electric wires.

Originally the source of sound was generated by a human drive mechanism. The machinery of bow and fingers controlled the perceived pitch, loudness and tone production. These have been replaced by electronic counterparts. The output of the iPod is the sound source, the amplifier and equalizer control the loudness and tone respectively.

The acoustically resonating wooden body becomes the architecture for the electro-magnetic speakers and electronics which are embedded in the belly. The electronics span a progression of successive developments where each stage builds on the past, from mechanical, to electronic valve, transistor and finally digital micro-chip.

There's much to contemplate in this piece that embraces change and cultural heritage: the new functionality, shape, symmetry, the handle ontop, the missing head/neck, the fact that it's no longer 'upright'. is a web site devoted to recycled culture. Budding detrivores wishing to make new creative works out of old ones will find it a good source of inspiration.

Wikipedia: Conceptual art