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Mechanical Music Modules
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Mechanical Music Modules
Sandrine
I've always had a desire for mechanical music creation i.e. a stepper motor with Popsicle sticks of various lengths, or resonant tines tapped by solenoids, or more conventional things like a music box.

Last year I was canvassed by a fellow designing such instruments as he thought a variation of my Reflex LiveLoop design would be great inside one of his desktop music makers. I forget who it was as I deleted all my PM's but he had some very interesting designs controlled via modular.

Anyway, the reason I made this thread..

Has anyone seen a mechanical music module? One that would fit inside of a rack?

I have had several ideas like
A solenoid actuated juice harp complete with servo controlled bellows that would act as a "mouth" to change the resonant cavity size/dimensions
A musicbox harp player using tiny rotating disks of velvet
A mini harp with strings that are pitch shifted (digitally or mixed) down into usable tones
A piezo / brush for percussive sounds
A flute, coiled to fit inside a modular rack smaller HP (like a french horn)
A resonant chamber (tube) as above using speaker & mics along the way
A kazoo with ported mini speaker/mic
A kalimba with several solenoids
A mini pan flute or slide flute
An interferometric laser LFO
Rigo
Maybe you find some things here:

http://gieskes.nl/undefined/eurorack/
J3RK
I've often thought that a miniature Pachinko machine type of thing would make a fun random source. It would need a clear section of panel, so you could see all of the balls bouncing around, contacting pins at various points. Maybe some knobs to control which sets of pins are connected at the time. Or maybe some FSRs that they could hit too.

It would probably work best in 5U though, and it would be pretty noisy hihi
robin87
Very interesting ideas!
I've been dreaming about a snare rattle resonator for quite a while now. I bet it could add some nice realism and "air" to electronic percussion. Also, I've always liked the sound of a snare resonating along with the other instruments in small rehearsal rooms.
flts
Sometimes I still think about making a module that has a simple low power motor spinning a cat toy around, and some kind of sensor array (optical?) that captures the spinning motion to control voltage, possibly via digital post-processing.

The fun part is, of course, bringing the household cat to the same room and getting Quancatized Random Voltages!
J3RK
flts wrote:
Sometimes I still think about making a module that has a simple low power motor spinning a cat toy around, and some kind of sensor array (optical?) that captures the spinning motion to control voltage, possibly via digital post-processing.

The fun part is, of course, bringing the household cat to the same room and getting Quancatized Random Voltages!


thumbs up
jorg
Sandrine, I love the way you think. I love spring reverbs, Hammond's crazy mechanical tremolo, and Leslie's spinning speakers. Plate reverbs are also very cool. Then of course the beauty of Wurlitzer's tines and Rhodes' rods.

Your resonant chamber is a very appealing idea. I have a couple of thoughts, but first a preface. The small size of (say) a Euro module sets a strict lower limit on achievable pitches or resonant frequencies. It's bad enough in air (1 foot per millisecond implies KHz range sounds), and worse in solids (a plate reverb in Euro size would produce a pathetic clink).

All that said, there are ways around the "high pitch" problem.
(1) As you suggest, pitch shift.
(2) Coils (like a spring reverb, or a trombone) can pack lower pitch into a smaller volume.
(3) Use the module as an interface to an external device.
(4) Tines resonate at a lower pitch than stretched strings.

On the resonant chamber, you could make a trombone-ish coiled tube, with a motorized multiple-coil extension. Picture a flattened coil of many turns. The flat portion is nested tubes; you can drive the whole thing longer and shorter with a motor.
adam
sounds like a great idea, would there be any undesirable effects from running euro modules and a bunch of motors, solenoids etc from the same power supply?
Scolbio
J3RK wrote:
I've often thought that a miniature Pachinko machine type of thing would make a fun random source. It would need a clear section of panel, so you could see all of the balls bouncing around, contacting pins at various points. Maybe some knobs to control which sets of pins are connected at the time. Or maybe some FSRs that they could hit too.

It would probably work best in 5U though, and it would be pretty noisy hihi


Oh man I love the graphics and design of those old japanese machines,
that would make one sexy module
Lux A Turner
I've posted this link before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl1ZrEza7uY

Here's a live set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p0CGOoN7J0

I'm picturing a miniaturised version to use as a trigger / gate sequencer, with a series of slots, into which the user would insert discs with varying numbers of radial lines / segments drawn / printed on them, to be read optically.

You could generate all sorts of glitchy, polyrhythmic mayhem, just by drawing on blank discs with a Sharpie and slotting them in.
clorax hurd
I never used it, but there are modules by Bastl Instruments, which can be helpful building blocks for making mechanical instruments with eurorack.

They are commercial modules, but relevant to DIY since Bastl guys are kind and opened their source files recently: https://github.com/bastl-instruments/

These are the modules:
https://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/solenoid/
https://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/solenoid/solenoid-expander/
https://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/servo/
https://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/dc-motor/
https://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/sense/
Lemmy
Rigo wrote:
Maybe you find some things here:

http://gieskes.nl/undefined/eurorack/


Great site!
Schläfer
I did some experiments sequencing small DC motors with an euclidean sequencer and a baby8, there is nice possibilities to explore for sure!

GGW
Can you get your modular to interface with floppy drives?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM_sAxrAu7Q
thx2112
Check out Raymond Scott / Manhattan Research.

He was making electronic music using mechanical sequencers in the 50's.

Sandrine
They could be stacked if you have a really really deep case!

I guess I'm far from alone in this thought! wow thanks for your input everyone!

@Jorq
That's the real challenge though is size vs. resonance. Ultrasonics could be brought down by using an analog quadrature mix (carrier * input) Those TV remotes from the late 60's comes to mind! They had tiny rods that were hit when buttons were pressed and even though were far beyond human hearing range, were loud enough to be heard by the TV.
I guess the only way to find out if a circular flute would work is to actually try it. I think of singing through a hose (we've all done it!) and it's resonant properties seem to change as it is coiled up...i.e. new in the package vs. laying out on the ground.

@Lux A Turner That's an amazing concept! A turntable is a perfect rhythm device, have you though about gluing / taping a couple of iPhones onto a record and using a photo sensor over them to pick up light from playing videos or video from a camera?
I thought about the reverse; having a screen with a rotating sensor over it to create waveforms from whatever is on the screen.

@riqo Thanks for that link, there's some very inspiring ideas there


@Schläfer That's a motor from a game controller, I have many! I took that vibrator idea up a notch by welding to a drill motor and a somewhat smaller motor for realism FX for a flight simulator I designed for a local flying school. The second biggest motor was for landing gear up/down, the largest motor was for landing..random jumps, while the smaller for flaps etc.
On start up the motors all turn full out on the board and shake the whole plane with an almost drone sound!
If there were several of these on a large scale board attached to the floor or stage I think it would sound/feel pretty impressive!
On a small scale there ar some pretty tiny motors that even with small weights on them could act as "notes" in a chord.

@Adam as long as there's a decent amount of filtering before the motor drives, they themselves don't actually draw much for long


I just thought of an interesting noise module-
A small cooling fan with a mic in front of it. The mic is on a servo or rotation knob. The fan speed settings could be "breeze" "blow" "gust" "hurricane" he he. Taking advantage of that annoying wind in the mic issue when videoing outdoors smile
Sandrine
@THX2112
That is so strange! She's singing the name of the company I almost started last year "Lightwerx" lol actually it was Lightwerx Entertainment
It's too bad they didn't get live footage, it would make all the difference
Rex Coil 7
The ultimate electro-mechanical instrument is the tonewheel generator Hammond organ and the rotating speaker system by Don Leslie. My comment is motivated by my internet radio playing "Footstompin' Music" by Grand Funk Railroad as I type this (holy shit that song gets your ass movin'!)

Beyond that design ... that dude on Tou Yube that goes by "Look Mum No Computer" does some pretty nutso mechanical stuffs.

seriously, i just don't get it
jorg
Rex, I was cleaning contacts on my A-100 this weekend (also replacing the belt in my rotary speaker). I was reminded that the Hammond Vibrato/Chorus is mechanical. It's like a modern phaser, except instead of modulating the resistors in an allpass, it modulates the capacitors (only achievable mechanically). Lots of interesting possibilities there, especially using more recent smaller tuning capacitors and smaller motors. MCF (mechanically controlled filter), MCO (mechanically controlled oscillator), MCA, etc.

(and by the way, Hammond invented the spring reverb)
Rex Coil 7
Mechanicals ......

Rex Coil 7
jorg wrote:
Rex, I was cleaning contacts on my A-100 this weekend (also replacing the belt in my rotary speaker). I was reminded that the Hammond Vibrato/Chorus is mechanical. It's like a modern phaser, except instead of modulating the resistors in an allpass, it modulates the capacitors (only achievable mechanically). Lots of interesting possibilities there, especially using more recent smaller tuning capacitors and smaller motors. MCF (mechanically controlled filter), MCO (mechanically controlled oscillator), MCA, etc.

(and by the way, Hammond invented the spring reverb)
You're right. Guys like me have been using Hammond vibrato scanners as modulation FX for years. Here's a few examples.

LINK = https://www.analogoutfitters.com/scanner






cookie?!?
Lemmy
Sandrine wrote:
@THX2112
That is so strange! She's singing the name of the company I almost started last year "Lightwerx" lol actually it was Lightwerx Entertainment
It's too bad they didn't get live footage, it would make all the difference


Didn't check the video but I think this is based on the Raymond Scott track...
https://open.spotify.com/track/5jYQ2SkNQqX2d4369Nn4SX?si=BMmaVuYMS8W6q 0ZQ24dkqQ
Jaytee
Not really a modular project, but this thread immediately made me think of Gieskes’ Casio SK-1 mechanical bend sequencer:

jorg
Rex, I'll definitely check out AnalogueOutfitters - looks like some clever people!
Sandrine
Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Mechanicals ......



Good video! I love to do this exact thing myself with the Reflex LiveLoop
Always looking around for things to make sounds with
It's neat to someone else doing this hehe

One mechanical thing I did do as part of my "Show-in-a-box" stage mixer was create a small resonant cabinet with a speaker and mic mounted on a servo inside. The results weren't as good as expected but there's definately phase differences as well as tonal differences.
This is sort of like the hammond perhaps but on a smaller scale.
I guess I need to learn a bit more about sound channels (like what Bose likes to use) to keep the size in a modular format.

I thought of suspending the mic on springs (that are also the connection points) like a head of a CD/DVD laser but more movement) then using a magnetic coil over a small speaker magnet. This could move the mic quite a distance with an LFO signal driving it.
The idea would be to create a mechanical phaser using the Doppler effect...
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