Audio slave: Gadget nut turns Pikachu into a ‘musical’ instrument
A Japanese “circuit bender” who goes by Kaseo loves to turn everyday and out-of-date electronics into noise-producing instruments. He’s rewired Casio and Yamaha keyboards, retooled Fisher Price playsets and video game consoles, and even turned Japan’s iconic rabbit-beast — and its trademark “Pikachu!” cry — into a digital synthesizer. By manipulating a variety of spike-like buttons jutting out of his makeshift instrument, Kaseo is able to produce a variety of sounds, including distorting the toy’s original sound bites. He’s even strung a dozen of them together into something of a mini-orchestra — though not one you’d hear playing on a classical radio station.
” The smallest electronic orchestra you’ll ever see”
The 1-Bit Symphony is a bit like a chiptune, if you’re familiar. Chiptune artists take retro tech and old video game consoles and turn them into musical instruments, the output being songs that sound like they belong in NES games. Perich’s 1-Bit Symphony sounds quite a bit like that, but you’re average low-bit chiptune uses 8-bit or 16-bit components.
School of Atari rock
People grow up dreaming about becoming musicians, but chip musicians? Gareth Morris sure did, adapting some 1980s Atari hardware (an 1040ST keyboard) to make “chiptunes,” music created using just the raw sounds of the original equipment. The result usually sounds like a cross between Depeche Mode and the sound effects from Yar’s Revenge… yet somehow still cool.
Vanessa recently rocked out with from Morris and his modded PC to see what it was like to be an Atari DJ. Check out the video to start your chiptune addiction, and if you’ve got a classic Atari PC lying around, Morris’ site has all you need to join the ranks of chip musicians. Groovy.