Electronics

I started early on experimenting with electronics, computers and programming, and have made several small experimental projects with electronic toys, circuit bending, sensor technology and software. Here are some of them.

System for analogue synthesis and signal processing (2012)

In connection with a new electronic composition, I have built a system for analogue synthesis and signal processing.
The system consists of components from Goike, Flightcase, Expert Sleepers, Intellijel Designs, Blue Lantern, Division 6, Toppobrillo, Metasonix, Doepfer, Malekko Heavy Industry, Manhattan Analog and Tiptop Audio.
These analogue components are controlled by a custom made software.

53 X 3 chaotic oscillators (2011)

This circuit was designed in conjunction with the installation Ragnarok, and consists of three oscillators that modulate each other. It also contains an envelope and an amplifier. A simple Hex Schmitt Trigger Integrated Circuit (CD40106) is the starting point for both the oscillators and the envelope. An amplifier chip (LM386) provides a loudspeaker with enough power.

I first made a simple prototype of the oscillator and amplifier. The finished circuit, including a brand new envelope generator, was developed by Hans Wilmers. In the finished installation, each circuit represented a partial in a spectrum. The spectrum was based on an analysis of Richard Wagner's 15 hour opera Der Ring des Nibelungen. This analysis was made by Henrik Sundt’s software Particulize 1.1.

Each circuit consists of three oscillators that modulate each other with feedbacks that produce chaotic results. It was produced a total of 53 copies of the circuit, making this the most comprehensive electronics project for me so far.

Concept: Asbjørn Blokkum Flø
Electronics Development: Hans Wilmers
Software Development: Henrik Sundt
Electronics Manufacturing: Hans Wilmers, Thom Johansen, Asbjørn Blokkum Flø

24 channel amplifier (2010)


In connection with the installation Everyday Filter, I needed an amplifier that could serve 24 loudspeakers with a somewhat high sound pressure level. The electronics from cheap PC-loudspeakers were recycled and equipped with XLR-connectors for easy interfacing with long multi cables.

Arp Oddyssey modification (2010)

In the same way that it may be nice for guitar players to replace guitar strings themselves it may also be nice for  electronic musicians to be able to maintain their own instruments. The MK3 version of the Arp Odyssey synthesizer has a filter error that makes the filter bandwidth limited to 12kHz. By replacing the four resistors in the filter I got the full bandwidth. I also used the occasion to renew the potentiometers since these almost always breaks in the Arp synthesizers from the 70s. Note the hand-drawn Arp circuit boards.

Spiderman Phone (2010)


Around the corner from where I live there is an Asian shop that among other things sells electronic toys. The store has the usual mix of landscape paintings with sound, mosques with built-in prayer and soldier dolls with weapon sounds. Here I found a cheap copy of a cell phone toy with a pirated Spider-Man Sticker. I connected a potentiometer to the power supply so that I could regulate the amperage incrementally and like that I had a brand new audio source.

Light sensitive Duplosynth (2010)

On the basis of some Duplo bricks, a broken computer game controller, some light sensors and the PD software, I made this light-sensitive synthesizer. The design of the Duplo bricks makes it easy to expand with new modules.

Step sequencer (2009)

Based on the sensor interface Minia and the PD software I made this step sequenser.

Baby Toy with LFO (2009)

A baby toy that is circuit bent and expanded with an LFO (low frequency oscillator).

WOM - BugBrand kit (2009)


I have not designed this kit from Tom Bugs (www.bugbrand.co.uk) myself but it is nevertheless a fine example of the combination of circuit bending aesthetics and well-designed electronics.

Bird vocalization synthesis (2008-)
In the spring of 2008 I started a project with synthetic models of bird vocalization based on analysis of audio recordings. The aim of these models is to get a more nuanced understanding of the structural and timbral aspects of bird vocalization. The project is a work in progress and there are currently 40 birds in the database.

The upper row shows the first partial in the bird vocalization analysis, while the lower row shows the amplitude. This is an analysis of a short part of a nightingale vocalization.

Control voltage interface (2007- 2008)

In the winter of 2007-2008, I began to explore the possibility of being able to control my analogue audio sources with the same kind of precision found in programming languages for digital audio. This has partially been done before including the custom designed system by EMS (Elektronmusikstudion) in Stockholm in the 60´s and 70´s, but not with the precision and flexibility I was looking for.

The flexibility of the digital systems is interesting and at the same time the sound of the analogue systems have a unique quality. The idea was to construct a control voltage interface but in contrast to the existing MIDI-based variants it would have full digital audio resolution. I searched various forums on the net but found no solutions.

In collaboration with engineers Henrik Sundt and Svein Berge I found that the easiest way would be to modify an existing DA converter, i.e. a sound card. The reason that it needs a modification is that almost all sound cards have a built-in filter that stops it from keeping a constant voltage over a period of time. But this is precisely what you want to achieve in a control voltage interface, and through the modification, we got it right. A working prototype with software in Max/MSP was completed in May 2008.

One year later the company MOTU released the product Volta. Volta is a plugin that sends out a control voltage signals to the sound card. Sound cards from MOTU do not have the built-in filter and can therefore be used without modification. Some months later, a similar plugin came, Silent Way, from the company Expert Sleepers. In autumn 2010 Expert Sleepers released the hardware module ES-1 that makes the need for a special sound card or a modification unnecessary. Early in 2011 came the model ES-3 that do the same as our original prototype, ADAT in and 8 control voltages out, but in a much more complete and elegant solution.

In other words, many people have been thinking about the same thing in parallel. The combination of analogue timbre and digital control makes for new musical possibilities.

Speak & Spell sample collection (2007)

A complete collection of the samples from the British version of the Speak & Spell toy. Dowload the sample collection here (23,9 mb).

C4 software (2007)

The C4 controller from the company Mackie has a flexible and comprehensive interface but as with so much other commercial music technology, its application is limited. With my software for communication between Max/MSP and the Mackie C4 controller, the controller can theoretically be used for any purpose. The software was developed for NOTAM.

Circuitbendt birthday card (2005)

One of the cheapest audio circuits available is the postcards with sound. They have a speaker, an amplifier and a small circuit which suspiciously often includes an audio file with Stevie Wonders "Happy Birthday". The results from various short circuits are usually varied and surprising, and if you bypass the loudspeaker you will also get surprisingly much bass.

Speaker Floor (2004)

In the installation Soundtracks I worked with networks of speakers positioned on the floor. 40 different loudspeakers were placed under a 100 m2 floor of perforated metal. The large number of sound sources under the floor made it possible to construct very specific tracks and paths that the sound could travel, resulting in a kind of acoustic action painting in which the sound was emptied, dripped and thrown across the floor.

Sound floor interface (2004)

This audio controller was made for the installation Soundtracks. It was organized in eight groups of three pressure switches that were mounted on a 100 m2 floor of perforated metal. The switches controlled errors that were written as a part of a computer program. In this way, you could control the textural and structural evolution of these errors while retaining the distorted character of the sound.

Monitor controller / input selector (2002)

I did not find any monitor controller/input selector to fulfil the requirements I had, so instead I built one myself. Alex Jarlev helped out with the soldering and Astrid Midtbø did the silk screen printing for the front plate. The monitor controller / input selector has been in daily use since it was built.

Audio controller (2002)

This audio controller was made for the installation Norway Remixed. The audio controller was organized into three groups. The lower part consisted of a spiral with push buttons that chose which audio stream to listen to. Over this spiral there were two rows of switches, one for rhythmical and timbral manipulations and one for spatial change. The interaction was deliberately made simple since immediate and comprehensive response is often what works best in interactive audio systems.

Sensor Interface (2002)

I built this sensor interface for the installation Norway Remixed and it was based on NOTAM's proprietary MIDI box. This was again based on the micro controller 68HC11 and had MIDI in and out, 8 analogue inputs, 16 digital inputs and six digital outputs. This sensor interface was also used in the installation Soundtracks.

Speaker Systems for three-dimensional sound (1998-2004)
For the installations The Leap, Erotogod, Norway Remixed and Soundtracks I developed speaker systems for three-dimensional sound. This was systems with 8, 16, 24 and 40 loudspeakers. The software was developed in Max/MSP. Illustrations: Svein Erik Rønnestad.


In the installation The Leap (1998-1999), 8 speakers were arranged in a cubic array. In this way, it was possible to place the sound horizontally as well as vertically.

The eight speakers in the installation The Leap were well suited to place sounds in a virtual cylinder around the listener but it was difficult to place sounds directly above and below the listener. The installation Erotogod (2001) was therefore extended with four speakers above and below the listener for a system with a total of 16 speakers.

Although the speaker system in Erotogod constituted a very effective sound sphere there were no speakers placed in the most critical listening position, the listener's ear level. The installation Norway Remixed (2002) was therefore extended with eight speakers placed at ear level. This system had 24 speakers combined with a custom designed acoustic room, and made it possible to create a highly credible three-dimensional sound.

With Norway Remixed, the limit for traditional speaker techniques was in many ways reached. It was therefore worked towards a more experimental technique in the installation Soundtracks (2004). A combination of 40 speakers in three different sizes were spread evenly across a surface and then covered with a perforated metal floor. This made it possible to experiment with the various speakers' tonal characteristics as well as create horizontal movement patterns.

Field recording with dictaphone (1996)

I bought this cheap voice recorder in the mid-nineties after I had met the Trondheim-based American poet Matt Burt. I heard Matt Burt for the first time on the Motorpsycho album Demon Box, and was fascinated by how he connected the expression in the poems to the sound of the format, i.e. the voice recorder.

Feedback Generator (1994)

A friend of mine found this microphone and amplifier combination for kids at a mall outside Biristrand in Norway. We quickly discovered that it had fascinating feedback characteristics such as reacting dynamically to deep frequency sound, something I used in several pieces.

Casio keyboard with power regulation (1991)

At the beginning of the 90s, I bought a Casio keyboard of the cheapest sort in a mall outside of Kristiansund in Norway. The vague, romantic idea was that I should be able to write instrumental music outside whilst enjoying the scenery. The cheap plastic sound of the Casio keyboard did not work very well as a compositional tool but as the batteries went out of power it slowly began to compose music on its own. The bad batteries were eventually replaced with a potentiometer so that I could regulate the amperage incrementally.

 
 


Klank - electronic music. text text text text text text.


I Guess I’ll Have To Dream The Rest - piano music.


Ragnarok - installation.text text text text text text.


Doppelgänger - installation.