Circuit bending and 'dirty electronics/punktronics' instrument building is rapidly growing in popularity within electronic music circles, and many students become interested in constructing 'DIY' electronic instruments from scratch using sensors, electronics and 'junk'. Using the Max/MSP programming environment, students can also build entire musical interactivity environments which audiences can play as instruments.
A third year Dirty Electronics creative project involving circuit bending. 'In an age where it is all too easy to create almost any sound one likes in a digital software environment, I was very drawn to the idea of creating sounds using 'home-made', physical electronic instruments.'
Part of an MA portfolio, the Ghetto Bastard 'was derived from a Sharp Portable Radio Cassette Player that I found in the wheelie bin outside my house. It was in perfect working order and provided inspiration for this project. It fitted my ethos of re-using discarded technology and my own remit of portability.' Alterations included hacking the AM receiver to create squeaks and squeals (these controlled by two large bolts, one at each end of the device); removing one of the speakers and placing it back-to-back with the other to create feedback (while filling the vacant socket with a mirror ball); and modification of the tape transports with the addition of a spindle on which a Barbie-style doll was mounted.
This is a 6min solo improvised performance using an ensemble of circuit bent instruments consisting of drum toy, keyboard-style device, one-armed bandit and a globe-shaped push-button toy. These instruments are often highly unpredictable in performance and this unpredictability can be exploited by the performer, suggesting lots of interesting directions in which the music can evolve.