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Another video, playing my Launchpad and keys this time

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A picture of my current live setup with Schizopolitans

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Just wanted to share this pic I took at our last show. A Schizopolitans show is this times 4. We all have way too many buttons to push, cables to connect and knobs to turn. For all of us, juggling through all this stuff usually make the shows a little extra interesting :)

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Gakken sx-150 arduino hack number two: Adding MIDI and Audio out

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I finally got around to finishing the hack to my Gakken SX-150 mini synth. On the first part I added the ability to be controlled by Arduino through a virtual software midi port. On this iteration, I added a real midi in port and I also added a 1/4′ plug audio out, to make it more usable with standard audio equipment. For more picture you can take a look at the flickr set.

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The MIDI part consisted in combining the Arduino MIDI IN circuit and the Voltage Control Circuit described on the first part of this hack.
And, this is how it sounds!

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Instrument-a-day

It seems that during February, other than my super favorite FAWM, there are plenty of other interesting things going on, that have the same “goal oriented” objective. Well, for one, there is the RPM Challenge, where you also do music, but you have to actually turn in a CD at the end of the month.
But, I just discovered this other one, Thing-a-day, where you pretty much pick your poison, do something everyday and document it. This also sounds pretty interesting, specially because some people are able to exploit their creativity, without being framed by a format or activity.
Case in point, (pretty awesome btw), this guy made one instrument a day for the month of February.

Ranjit’s A Hand-made instrument a day

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Schizopolitans will perform on stage in front of a live audience

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http://www.myspace.com/schizopolitans

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Shameless plug for my CD: Next Door Ninja – Noise is for Everyone

It has been a couple of months since it has been released, but I never did the shameless plug in here so here it goes:
I have gathered the outcome of my FAWM 2008 participation and put it on a nice CD format and it is available for sale through CD baby. So… if you are feeling adventurous, why not buy it? is cheap! :)

NEXT DOOR NINJA: Noise is for Everyone

Here are a couple of full tracks, for your enjoyment.

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Mixed-up Logic [download]

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Sunday Morning [download]

Also, for more music, my myspace page is http://myspace.com/nextdoorninja

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Controlling a Gakken SX-150 synth with Arduino

The Gakken SX-150 is a really inexpensive analog synth (about $50, now available at the make store). This synth is included on a Japanese magazine (I wouldn’t expect less from them) so that makes it 2*2 times as cool.

Since its release, someone already has created a module to add midi support to it using the atmel attiny2313, but I’ve wanted to use an Arduino board to do it, to keep things easy to prototype and hack.

My implementation uses a single DAC IC chip, the MCP4921, which sells for about 2 bucks from Mouser. The current version uses the Arduino, only to read one byte, as a midi note, from the serial connection and sends that to the SX-150. I could have created the full midi circuit to make it a standalone solution, but that increases the cost and complexity of the physical connections. I’ll probably do that on a later revision.

So, in order to receive midi data, I wrote a small Processing sketch that receives midi, and sends the note information through the serial port to the Arduino.

The Arduino connection diagram looks like this:
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And the final connections, like this:
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And.. the whole thing sounds like this:

On the video, I’m using Ableton Live to send midi data to the processing sketch using a Network Midi connection on the Mac. On windows, you should be able to use Midi Yolke to accomplish the same thing. Then, I make sure that the processing sketch receives midi on that same virtual midi connection and sends the data through serial to the arduino. So, depending on your system configuration, you might have to tweak the Processing sketch a little bit to make sure it is reading and writing to the right midi and serial ports.

The flow of data from the sequencer to the synth looks like this:
Ableton Live => Virtual Midi Connection => Processing Sketch => Serial Port =≶ Arduino => DAC => SX-150

And finally, the source code:

Now, hook it up and make some noise!

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FAWM 2008 – My entry so far

FAWM (February Album Writing Month) is a yearly community challenge to write 14 songs (a complete album) in February. 14 songs, that’s a song every 2 days, at least. This is the perfect excuse for me to produce stuff, no matter if it is good or bad. Here’s what I’ve done so far (this list will get update as February goes along.)



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Also, here is my myspace page http://myspace.com/nextdoorninja

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That1Guy, taking the one man band to the next level

I just came back from another great High Sierra and saw some excellent bands, but the ones they always stick up are the ones that do something unique. This year, the uniqueness prize (i.e. ultra-super-freak) went to That1Guy.

His main instrument is a home-made invention he calls “The Magic Pipe”, an industrial looking steel pipe contraption that has two ends, where he either plays bass or lead (and he is pretty damn good at both). The 2 strings have an amazingly natural envelope filter like sound, which comes out just as if he was playing a synth bass.

Apart from the strings on the pipe, he has an assortment of midi sensors. There are 13 of them alone on the Magic Pipe and who knows how many more on bass-drum-pedal-driven-cowbells and a single snare that gets no compassion during the live show.

His music is a refreshing mix between crazy funk and industrial, that can easily drive a crowd insane. And, the lyrics are a perfect extension of his instruments: definitely nuts. Don’t believe me? check out this video.

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We are the robads, robads

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We are the robads, robads.
We are the robads, robads.
We are futuristic machines, we scare kids for halloween,
We are the robads, robads.

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