Robert Green has been circuit bending instruments for about 7 years. If your not the type to pick up a soldering gun and risk electric shock but need a bent device definitely take a close look at what Robert has to offer.
Besides the usual Speak N Spell and Casio SK modifications, Robert specializes in digital drum machines including the Alesis HR-16, Roland TR-707 and Yamaha series. Some of his bends use a patch bay modification and others metal switches.
This Alien-Devices modified Alesis HR16 drum synthesizer features 28 sound modifications which are controlled by 14 three-way switches. The modifications can effect the drum sounds in subtle or drastic ways creating beat mutations, digital filtering, distortion, synth tones, envelope warping, overload, bizarre beats and electronic textures. These units are excellent sample sources as well as stable live instruments and are fully MIDI capable.
If you want to get your hands dirty and try some modifications yourself there is a CD-Rom video tutorial for sale on Amazon called Circuit Bending for Beginners. I personally have not seen it but I’ve heard good reviews. There is of course plenty of free stuff to start watching on YouTube including “Circuit Bending Workshop” by Ben Goldstone. The comments under that video are pretty interesting.
A few years ago I went to the Bent Festival in New York. It’s a nice geek fest of circuit bending. My favorite “instrument” was a old dot matrix printer rigged to play audio notes depending on which key you pressed. Here are the upcoming dates/locations for 2008:
Los Angeles Bent Festival – April 17th-19th, 2008.
New York Bent Festival – April 24th-26th, 2008.
Minneapolis Bent Festival – May 1st-3rd, 2008.
Do you own any bent instruments?