June 27, 2007

Electro-Mechanical DIY...

by Chris Randall

I've been pondering making a few instruments for my next CR album, and in doing so have been perusing Iner Souster's pages as a source of inspiration and ideas, along with my normal and perfectly healthy obsession with All Things Neubauten. After successfully making the Bogdon Box Bass, I've realized that there really isn't a lot to these sorts of things. What's your favorite electro-mechanical (as opposed to synthie type stuff we normally cover here) DIY instrumentation? Have you built something odd? Discuss.



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Jun.28.2007 @ 1:16 AM
We (being "Destination Moon") created some crazy sounds by recording wire fences being twanged. Composer Jon Rose has made a career out of this sort of thing; link [www.jonroseweb.co...]">link [www.jonroseweb.co...]

I'm sure you could make a great instrument out of fencing wire, some way to vary the tension of the wire and a pick-up of some sort. You could hit it, pluck it or bow it.


Jun.28.2007 @ 8:05 AM
Maybe this running some servos?

link [www.eroktronix.co...]">link [www.eroktronix.co...]

That way you can still sequence da noise.


Jun.28.2007 @ 8:44 AM
link [www.sonicstate.co...]">link [www.sonicstate.co...]
This video has some amazing contraptions. Why you have to sit thru half of the video before he gets to the interesting stuff is beyond me. But what do i know of video production ?

Jun.28.2007 @ 9:23 AM
me and a friend once built an "instrument" out of a newspaper vending machine, 300 ball bearings, a flexy metal hose and a tuba mouthpiece. The mouthpiece went on one end of the flexy hose, the other end went in the back of the newspaper vending machine, the ball bearings went inside. He blew into it while I did percussion on the side of it.

Jun.28.2007 @ 9:40 AM
Plenty of nifty web sites out there:

Dennis Havlena's Instruments
link [www.ehhs.cmic]">link [www.ehhs.cmich.ed...]

the venerable "Folkurban":
link [www.geocities.co...]">link [www.geocities.co...]
(personally, I want to build a ukulele some day)


Jun.28.2007 @ 10:27 AM
Not being able to afford instruments, I've done quite a lot of this. Most of it has been percussion oriented, as that's really the only thing I'm good at playing.
The company I work for has a division that stretches screens for industrial screen printing, so I have access to some really odd materials:
-Variously sized (up to 6'x15') frames made of what are essentially hollow aluminum 2"x4"s, along with scrap pieces of this same material.
-Ridiculously strong adhesives.
-Tons of cardboard tubes of varying thickness and diameter.
-My division does vinyl graphics, so I have lots of stuff suitable for drumheads.
Whats worked best so far has been making drums from empty water-cooler jugs. I've had good results cutting a hole in the bottom and mounting one of those throw away pie plates. Filled this with various materials, and then stretched some other material over that to make drumhead (vinyl, leather, sheet metal).
I've also gotten cool effects with those water jugs by plugging the neck with a mic with foam wrapped around the body, then using the jug to "mic" an amp. In a variation of this I replaced the mic with the innards of a headphone that mounted perfectly in the neck, and wired this up as a mic.
The biggest problem with any of these is that they tend not to be very durable.

On a slightly related note, does anyone have any suggestions for a good entre into the Neubauten discography? A good album to start with?


Jun.28.2007 @ 1:55 PM
Chris Randall
I have everything Neubauten has ever recorded, to the best of my knowledge, and have seen them live a couple dozen times, so I'm as qualified as any to make a suggestion as to an entry point, I suppose.

It's worth keeping in mind that their early stuff is fairly raw, shopping carts getting banged about and such. But everything they've done from the mid-90s to now is pretty melodic, actual songs and such. If I was forced to suggest a single album to start with, I'd probably go with "9-15-2000 Brussels." It is a live album, but an excellent recording, and has good, solid versions of all their "hits." They are very much a "live in the studio" kind of band, so the songs don't differ greatly between the studio and the stage.

link [www.amazon.com]">link [www.amazon.com]

Tabula Rosa and Silence Is Sexy are my two favorite albums, and they are both well represented in that live concert. (Funny side story: we put in a bid to release the Brussels concert, and worked out an absolutely ludicrous royalty structure. Apparently they thought we were either insane or kidding, and went with Invisible for the release. That was a shitty day.)



Jun.28.2007 @ 5:52 PM
Rubber bands, belt buckles and half filled plastic water bottles all layered together makes for a nice alien pluto funk vibe.

Jun.28.2007 @ 8:22 PM
Hans Reichel's Daxophone is interesting:

link [www.oddmusic.co...]">link [www.oddmusic.co...]


Jun.28.2007 @ 10:24 PM
Neptune from Boston totally rules. DIY synths, guitars, basses, and other instruments hand-welded from scrap metal... truly a sight and sound to behold.

<a href="link [www.neptuneband.co...]">link [www.neptuneband.co...]">pics</a>
<a href="link [www.neptuneband.co...]">link [www.neptuneband.co...]">more pics</a>
<a href="link [www.myspace.com]">link [www.myspace.com]">myspace</a>


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