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. by James

Posted on: May 6, 2005 11:49 PM

summer of 2002 found me drifting about the state of michigan in my (now deceased) blue subaru station wagon. In grand rapids i discovered 'bao bao tea', in rochester hills i discovered pokemon ... but it was in micoda michigan that i found something in a small fire department rummage sale that would change my life for ever: the casio sk-1 keyboard. this 4 voice polyphony keyboard was established in 1985, as one of the first consumer level sampling keyboards, and boasted a 99 step chord sequence memory and 13 envelope shapes for an additive synth selection. at first, it was the sampling function that amused me for hours. on the beach, driving my car, on long walks through the wood... these places all witnessed my eagerness to explore the possibilities of hearing 1.4 seconds of just about anything repeated back to me in 32 different tones. it wasn't until almost 4 months later, when the appeal of polyphonic 'i pity the fool' started to wear, that my appetite for a new sound began to grow. i started wondering what exactly it was in this totally rad machine that made it so incredible... and shortly thereafter discovered my predilection in taking toys apart and exploring their circuit boards...


circuit bending came at a very good time for me, when otomo yoshihide and nobukazu takemura were at the top of my music charts, and I was desperately looking for a way to exert creative energy in (what at the time i thought was) new ways. for those not familiar with this practice, there is not really much to know. at the basic level, it is simply a person with ambition and imagination, not afraid to open the back of an electrical device and randomly connect resistors and capacitors into the circuit. the result is catastrophic to the ears of others, but simply wonderful for the designer. bringing wet finger tips into a circuit, allows a human to interact with a machine in a completely unpredictable and sensitive way that brings life into what originally was a completely in-organic sound. at a slightly more advanced level, circuit bending requires basic knowledge of electronics and soldering. eventually the rear is put back on the keyboard, which will have been modified, using a number of switches, dials and body contacts, to trigger off the various sounds in a slightly more predictable way. shit... there is much more i'd love to share, my affinity for vintage keyboards, toys, and electronics extend much further than this, but already i am tired of writing in this fashion. i prefer a much more visual and aesthetic approach to blogging, or else complete streams of consciousness which i find much too private and hard to focus for ultimate blogging challenges. so... if you'd really like to learn more about this passion of mine, please explore this small collection of links i've pulled from my browsers bookmarks. truly seasoned circuit benders have accomplished some really incredible things (where as i am still content simply 'wetting my fingers', if you don't mind the pun), and their sites might provide much more insight into the process and possibilities that bending may concur. cheers.

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Was this posted on time? Is it really June 5th? Can James operate a computer? Nice graphics, though. Real nice.

Posted by: Joel Conrad Bechtolt at May 7, 2005 12:08 AM

"Posted on: June 05, 2005 11:49 PM"

Thanks for reading, Joel.

Posted by: Dr. Retarded at May 7, 2005 12:15 AM

I think the time-stamp is from when he started the draft. I was watching the count-down and on the internal MT site, his entry was sent to publish in time to qualify. It probably just had to rebuild.

Posted by: Mikey at May 7, 2005 12:21 AM

It was posted on time.
The time stamp problem was ours. We have to fix time stamps sometimes to make them appear in correct order.
"Can James operate a computer?"
This coming from the dude who needed mega help making a link tonight.
C'mon, Joel.

Posted by: Steve Schroeder at May 7, 2005 12:26 AM

this is a beautiful entry.

Posted by: hason at May 7, 2005 12:36 AM

I agree.

Posted by: Joel Conrad Bechtolt at May 7, 2005 12:40 AM

i love the links. well done--why you may feel more comfortable blogging in a certain visual/stream of consciousness format, these are "challenges." i'd say comfort is not a part of the game

Posted by: J_John at May 7, 2005 12:57 AM


Posted by: daniel at May 7, 2005 3:08 AM

Thanks, J_John You said it. But James wowed some geeks. Good job James. Good job Geeks! Can't wait to see what's up next!

Love You All,

Posted by: Joel Conrad Bechtolt at May 7, 2005 5:19 AM

the sk-1 video is amazing. holy shit. i've never heard a bent sk-1 sound so good. it's usually much more random and uncontrolled

Posted by: hoppock at May 7, 2005 8:31 AM

I like how James' entries have secrets you have to discover!

Posted by: freddy at May 7, 2005 12:23 PM

Yeah, I don't agree, John. I think blogging within one's comfort zone is what's going to best bring out the unique character of each blogger. Everyone's already stretching their boundaries to address the specific content required by the challenge. But, by all means, blog as yourself, in your style, in your own way.

Posted by: josh at May 7, 2005 5:29 PM

Love this post! Reminds me of my little 32-key Yamaha keyboard and trying to transcribe Nobuo Uematsu tunes from FFII (US). Good stuff!

Posted by: karsh at May 7, 2005 6:57 PM

I agree with Josh. So much more interesting if everyone interprets the challenge in completely unique ways!

Posted by: Sarah at May 7, 2005 11:14 PM

That is Ultimate Blogger greatness. Twenty bajillion thumbs up.

You have inspired me to get my old Casio out from under my bed. Once I get all the dust off, I think I'll have a go at "Hey Jude." Polyphonic techno remix style.


Posted by: Lauren Alyce at May 8, 2005 10:33 AM