Friday, 20 December 2013

Oscar Niemeyer - International Fair, Tripoli

Famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer left behind a dream in Lebanon’s Tripoli which soon became impossible: a massive, unrealised fairground that had to give way to the vestiges of war. Bespoke revisits this forlorn site, replete with Niemeyer’s  grand and modernist vision. (read more here)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Contact microphone pre-amp

Collin's Lab: DIY Contact Microphone

It’s amazing what a little disk can do … when it’s layered with piezoelectric crystals. Piezo disks are impressively sensitive to vibration and can easily be adapted to work as a contact microphones. The trick is the preamp – a basic circuit used to match the piezo’s signal to levels compatible with modern audio gear inputs. The resulting piezo/preamp combo can be used for electrifying an acoustic guitar or simply exploring the lesser-heard world of small sound around us.

Or try the original...

(J201 Transistor is not as easy to obtain but, if you can manage to source it, is definitely worth it for its superior sound.) 

I've been performing experiments with guitar preamps and on-board electronics since, oh, the Nixon administration or thereabouts.  Sometime around 1990 I designed this preamp circuit, and have been using it mostly unchanged ever since.  In 1992 I posted a schematic of the preamp to one of the Usenet groups and the circuit became somewhat popular.
The goals of the preamp are:

  • Sounds great.  Of course.
  • Discrete FET (Field Effect Transistor) design.  Discrete because I don't like the sound of opamps, and FETs because the devices operate in a manner somewhat analogous to vacuum tubes.
  • Runs off a 9v battery.  In practice a decaying 9V battery, possibly as low as 8.0 volts.
  • Very high (3.0 Mohm) input impedance.  1.0 Mohm is the minimal acceptable input impedance for a guitar device.
  • Medium (6.0 Kohm) output impedance.  There's no need for an especially low output impedance as we're only using the preamp to counter the effects of cable capacitance and loading.
  • 3 dB gain.  You don't need much gain, and given the guitar signal level and the 9v supply voltage, there isn't room for much gain.
  • Low noise.
  • Graceful overload.  Overload happens; the circuit should clip gracefully and recover gracefully.
The preamp can also be phantom powered and mounted in a phone plug.  See my article "An FET Preamp Cable".

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

International Table Squennis Association

The Game of the Gods - Official Trading Card Game!!!

The long awaited official International Table Squennis Association trading cards are finally here. Negotiations with Pannini are ongoing so keep an eye out at your local newsagent for sticker packs and that all important sticker album in the near future. Maybe. Remember, a complete set of stickers safely cradled in an album will be a thing to treasure forever. An heirloom for future generations to covet and probably fall out over upon your demise. Fortunately you will be unaware when it is torn from your lifeless fingers as you lie on you deathbed, surrounded by violently bickering progeny.a grieving wife and several mistresses. Whilst you are in the newsagents, remember to watch out also for the I.T.S.A. Top Trumps game, available soon!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Reel to Reel Track Positions

In order to make the best possible use of the storage capacity of a magnetic tape, its width is divided up into two or four tracks. This is known as half or quarter track recording. Halving track width will give double the recording time for the same length of tape.
The division into several tracks has no influence an the frequency response. The dynamic range, however, i.e. the region between the maximum recording level and the tape background noise is reduced. Quarter track recording is also more critical regarding the cleanliness of the heads and the tape.
For mono recording two independent tracks are therefore available with a half track machine, and four with a quarter track machine.
Stereo recording requires a track each for the left and right hand channels. Two tracks are therefore used simultaneously. With half track stereo recording the tape is therefore fully recorded in one go. In the case of quarter track machines only two of the four tracks are recorded when the tape is run through for first time.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Hacker Farm

Make-do and mend. Broken music for a Broken Britain.

A celebration of the home-made, the salvaged and the hand-soldered.  DIY electronics performed on obsolete tech and discarded, post-consumerist debris.  Make-do and mend. Broken music for a Broken Britain.
Expect: circuit-bent mayhem, cassettemulch and modified-toy noise. A bit like Punk, but without the three chords or the riff borrowed from The Kinks. A beta-release of a better way of living.
Genre / File Under:  Outsider Music, Carboot Electronics, Open-Source Sound.
“Before Punk, there was Noise. Before Rock n Roll, there was Noise. Noise has always been there, buzz-buzz-buzzing in our eardrums. It is part of a proud artistic lineage that can be tracked back through the Dadaists, the Futurists and beyond. Noise is eternal. It is the soundtrack to our industry and our cities, our anger and our dreams. ”

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

La Grande Bouffe

A superb film about debauchery in all its forms:

La Grande Bouffe
(a.k.a. The Big Feast)
France/Italy, 1973
Comedy/Drama, 130 min.
Director: Marco Ferreri
With: Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Twisting tool.VOB

how to make a simple twisting tool to bend 12mm sq bar

Monday, 11 November 2013

Conducting Commodities, African Caribbean Centre

Conducting Commodities at the Afro-Caribbean Centre, 
Picture Window, Sonica Festival 31st Oct - 3rd Nov 2013

PICTURE WINDOW is an on-going public art project based in Glasgow that temporarily transforms shop front spaces with contemporary art practice directed at the street, turning the city into a gallery for New Media Art.

SONICA is a programme dedicated to world-class sonic arts, presenting emerging British talent alongside exceptional international artists in collaboration with renowned co-producers and venues. Curated by Cathie Boyd, Patrick Dickie and Graham McKenzie, Sonica gives a UK platform to performances of exceptional and rarely-seen work.

We are one of the windows in question.

CONDUCTING COMMODITIES by Thomas Leyland-Collins. 66/68 Osborne Street, The African Caribbean Centre. 31st October - 4th November, midday - midnight. Creating a sense of nostalgia through the use of bygone jingles and advertisements, Conducting Commodities examines the role of sound in advertising, as visitors are encouraged to interact with a window display of salvaged television sets. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

BOSS Micro-rack RRV-10

The BOSS RRV-10 reverb unit - Part of the classic Boss Micro-rack series which graced a huge amount of home studio's back in the 1980's.

The RRV-10 featured 9 selectable reverbs (room, hall & plates), with an adjustable decay-time and a pre-equaliser to shape the reverb tone. Stereo or mono outs are on the back and the front-panel also sports controls for adjusting reverb and direct output. A simple but effective budget unit.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Casting a Bronze Bell

Very interesting video, however I cannot help but think about the stark contrast between the conditions which the workers in and the classical music and narration with reverb comes accross.

And here is how it is done in America:

Demdike Stare - Testpressing#002

Monday, 4 November 2013

Made by ME Pavilion

Made by ME is an artists’ collective who are currently undertaking research into building a Pavilion for children. They are looking to undertake a collaborative residency with an architect interested in creating spaces and structures for children and families.

Pavilion comes from the old French word for butterfly, to mean a light and open building and Made by ME want to create a magical space inspired by children. Their research aims to explore both the physical and conceptual nature of a pavilion. They are looking at location, function, mobility, form, materials, sustainability and interaction.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Mark Boyle - The Moneyless Man

That we need money to live – like it or not – is a self-evident truism. Right? Not anymore. Drawing on almost three years of experience as The Moneyless Man, Mark Boyle not only demystifies money and the system that binds us to it, he also explains how liberating, easy and enjoyable it is to live with less of it.


Read his book, The Moneyless Manifesto, online for free here:

Friday, 18 October 2013

Gamelan Music from Bali

The Miracle of Bali - The Recital of Music First broadcast on the BBC 2 in 1969, Presented by David Attenborough

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Fox News Deck

Welcome to the Starship Enterprise

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Song of the Earth

David Attenborough investigating the evolution of song within the animal kingdom.

Playlist here:

Friday, 30 August 2013

E.M.M.A. - Lost Encarta Files (Mix) |

Fresh from dropping her immensely impressive debut, Blue GardensKeysound’s E.M.M.A. has shared a stellar mix influenced and in homage to Window’s Encarta 96 CD-ROM.
The mix is aptly called Lost Encarta Files & is made up entirely of E.M.M.A.’s own beats. You can & stream the mix below:

E.M.M.A. - Lost Encarta Files (Mix) |

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Bird Song discourages Anti-Social Behaviour

Singing Windows is a sound installation project for town centres, bringing together retailers, the general public and sound artist Robert Jarvis.  Using Feonic audio technology, shop window fronts are able to function as loudspeakers capable of playing gentle sounds, affecting the street's atmosphere and enticing the unsuspecting general public.

Feonic Whispering Window

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Google Glass: is it a threat to our privacy?

The tech giant's 'wearable computing' project is now being tested by volunteers, meaning you might already have been surreptitiously filmed and uploaded on to Google's servers. How worried should you be?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Alvin Lucier - Music on a Long Thin Wire

And, by the way, there have been some tests lately, there's a recording called "An Eighty-Foot Wire" or  "Music By a Long Thin Wire"–I thought this was a joke recording. It's an eighty-foot wire, they strung an eighty-foot wire out and they played a single tone through it and then they recorded it, but the eighty-foot wire did a single oscillation. The oscillation never varies. The oscillation [is] absolutely steady, the pulsations fed through the wire. And they recorded four LP sides, that wire creates the most incredibly beautiful sounds you've ever heard. And it doubled back, the sound[s] would come back and overlay each other, and there will be intervals of exquisite beauty. This is just an eighty-foot wire.

-Philip K. Dick, January 10, 1982.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Sonic Graffiti

Mr Underwood - "I was recently commissioned by VIVID and Capsule to produce and install eight pieces of Sonic Graffiti in Digbeth, Birmingham. These are sound objects, embedded in the built environment. The commission was split between four pieces that featured the “Crash EP” of music inspired by field recordings taken in the area and four others which were more “playable”.