The music robot “Glitch Robot” aims to produce sounds used in electronic music. It is referencing to glitch sounds – or Clicks ‘n Cuts – a sub genre of the electronic music.
I started with the imagination of what sounds I would like to use when producing music. What percussion sounds does a music track need? Escpecially if you’re into glitchy sound of the infamous clicks n’ cuts era. If you don’t do minimal techno, you need more than a phat bass drum & Hihat.
With the MR-808 (a giant TR-808 clone released Nov 2012) there were already some basic drum sound like Hi-Hat, snare, shaker or toms.
The sound scape that I was aiming for was planned to be more subtle: little crackles,
crackles, beeps, boings and crsssshs. The sounds were also inspired by daily experiences. You know in school when you let your ruler swing at the edge of the table to make a vibrating sound? When you unpack something and you keep playing with the plastic foil that makes awesome noises? The scary sound when your hard disk dies, scratching its head on your valuable data?
After several month of experimentation I chose 14 actors, covering different ranges of sound: electromagnetic relays whichs tongues are swinging in a frequency 10-100Hz making a high sound. Recycled and manipulated hard disks where the head is making a clicky noise. Steel tongues creating a bassdrum sound with a very long decay. A plastic foil which is constantly twisted, producing a subtle texture of ambient cracle noise. A metallic tongue initiated by a a gear wheel: a servo changes the tension of the tongue producing a variable creaky humming sound.
I imagined that to be the organs of a strange robot machine, when you open it up and you see the inner clockwork, making fascinating and un-understandable noises that slowly turn into a rhytm.
3D-Printing, recycling, amplifying – and repeating
Most of the mounts and covers were 3D-modeled (Inventor) and 3D-printed (three makerbots) in the workshop. Although the modeling and printing took several 100 hours, it can now be reproduces easily, for repairing or other versions of the robot!
Most of the other parts – hard disk, glas, metal, relays, fabric, plastic even the power supply – were taken from recycled computers, printers and other electronic good laying around.
The actual actuators are amplified with piezo elements. They are feed into a normal audio mixer, so basic sound shaping like EQing can be added. As actuators solenoids, motors and servos are used, driven by a MOSFET power unit, controllable with standard MIDI On and Off Notes and CC-Values.
More pictures in high resolution on our flickr page.