…about the size of a… Birmingham New Music Festival

I’ll be performing …about the size of a fist and located slightly to the left of… at the Birmingham New Music Festival electroacoustic concert.

Thursday October 18 7:00pm
Birmingham New Music Festival
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Hulsey Recital Hall
950 13th Street South
Birmingham AL

The piece is an improvisation (composed instrument?) using a custom mapping of an off-the-shelf MIDI fader box (the Korg nanokontrol2 pictured above). The typical position information of each fader/knob is ignored in favor of gestural information about how the control is manipulated over time. This transforms the controls into virtual bellows on a pump organ or springs in a wind-up toy.

I’ll also share the stage with Geni Skendo and LaDonna Smith for an improvisation.

Amped Up Hemi

I recently upgraded my salad bowl hemispherical speaker with a new amp board, and I’m loving the sound. I get more volume with less distortion.

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This 6-channel board (Sure Electronics TDA7498) is significantly more powerful and easier to install than my previous configuration of 3 stereo amps. I had to use a router to make room for the cooling fan, but otherwise the installation was straightforward.

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Here’s everything hooked up before I stuffed the innards back in place and fastened the bottom plate.

The DIY orchestra of the future – hemi speakers

In this TED Talk Ge Wang of Stanford geeks out about computer music (hooray!). He talks briefly about the hemispherical speakers used by the Stanford Laptop Orchestra. Their design (using an IKEA salad bowl) informed my hemi speaker experiments here.

I recently bought a 6-channel amplifier to upgrade the 3 2-channel amps I originally installed in the speaker. I’ll post about the new amp as soon as I drop it in.

No more clunky JBL EONs

My JBL EON G2 10s have served me well as a small PA or as monitor speakers, until they suddenly developed a nasty rattle. At first I thought I’d blown a woofer, but a quick inspection behind the grill showed everything was in order. Then I noticed that something inside each speaker was loose–it would make a disturbing clunk sound whenever I moved it. So I pulled the back off (so many screws…) and discovered the toroidal transformer was loose. I applied a dab of Loc-tite, tightened the bolt, and reassembled the speakers. Now they’re rattle free!

Mouthpiece Mashup Mark 2

20140503-172118.jpgHere’s the second-generation prototype of a soprano sax / trumpet mouthpiece hybrid. This was printed on a Makerbot Replicator 2X. I modeled the soprano sax mouthpiece base and appended the geometry of a Bach 1-1/2C trumpet mouthpiece found on Thingiverse. The trumpet cup is a bit roomier than the previous prototype; I think I’ll try a trombone-sized cup next. Here’s the STL file so you can download, modify and print your own.

Whenever I try this mouthpiece on my horn my son yells at me to “Stop that horrible noise!” So it must be working…

Today’s Fun: Diddley Bows

Inspired by Mike Orr’s Handmade Music Factory book I grabbed some scrap wood and empty soup cans and hacked together three diddley bows. They sound a bit like a berimbau crossed with a one-string Resophonic guitar. I’ll post some sounds once I find my way around the instruments. I’ll likely add guitar pickups or contact mics, too.

Cigar Box Guitar

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Had a great time building a cigar box guitar under the direction of John Nickel at Nickel Cigar Box Guitar.

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Here’s a detail of the piezo pickup that we installed in the cigar box. The small block of wood on the left is later glued to cover the piezo element.

Singing Strawberries at Wired Kingdom

The Wired Kingdom exhibit opened today at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. My piece for musical strawberries, Das Lied von der Erdbeer, is part of the show. The strawberries sing the opening motive from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde.