We describe a hardware-only improvisation and/or compositional set that merges a MIDI trumpet with a circuit bending interface that is inspired on bandoneon ergonomics by using the performer non-dominant hand -normally free in trumped playing. The instrument holistically abides by the principles of infrainstrumental design proposed by Bowens and Archers’s [1]. It is termed TP-Neon and its integration within an audio and video analogue modular synthesizer, along with its playability and musicality, is discussed.

As a reaction to the complexities and interface setup pitfalls of laptop music improvisation, there is a growing number of composers and improvisers interested in increasingly reductionist forms of musical instruments [7]. Busy and dense possibilities of laptop improvisation are driving musicians to consider the integration of modular synthesizers and dedicated hardware equipment into their improvisational and compositional workflows. One step further is the hacking and modifying of existing musical/video devices building simple electronic contraptions. Often, the aim is to research and experiment with surprisingly fresh lo-fi hands-on approaches to sound/video generation [1].

Consequently, there has being a significant influence of lo-fi methods into pop music and academic composition and improvisation. Pop artists such as Bjork, Radio Head and Venetian Snares have readily incorporated these approaches in their recent works [4]. Concomitantly, these lo-fi methods have been featured in performance and composition work by contemporary composers such as, just ti give an example, such as, Nick Collins on his piece The Bowerbird in which several individuals each armed with a loudspeaker and battery make ‘Victorian synthetic’ sounds [2].

Recently, the concept of lo-fi instrument has being formalized by J. Bowers and P. Archer on his paper, Not hyper, not meta, not cyber but infra-instruments [1]. In this work the authors expand on already established concepts like ‘circuit bending’ [3,5], or ‘hardware hacking [2,6] to define an emerging field of music and video improvisation which they term infrainstruments.

This paper describes a new improvisation set capriciously termed TP-Neon for audio and analogue video that has being inspired by Bowens and Archers’s 5-axial definition of infrainstrument, for instance the TP-Neon: (1) is constrained to a limited interactive repertoire; (2) engenders relatively unpredictable music – for instance non-symphonic, non-orchestral; (3) is performed in ways that are predetermined by the architecture of the instrument; (4) is of restricted virtuosity but with a rich set of performance-driven unpredicted explorations and; (5) is ultimately engaging in terms of its visual and sonic appeal, is technically provocative and ergonomically challenging.

The TP-Neon derives its name from the ergonomic morphing of a MIDI Trumpet (TP) and a Bandoneon-Like DIY control interface (Neon). The figure 1 depicts a numbered TP-Neon architecture. The TP-Neon controller based on a Yamaha EZ-TP MIDI trumpet with a DIY patchable momentary actuation matrix which can engage large number of circuit-bends’ combinations with simple presses. The Matrix ergonomically resembles keys on a bandoneon so the TP-Neon instrument can be played with two hands: the non-dominant hand controlling the bend matrix and the trumpet keys played with the dominant hand. From the TP-Neon several signals emerge. The direct audio out from the EZ-TP responds to humming dynamics from the mouthpiece microphone. These are used to generate a control voltage trough an envelope generator which is used ad-hoc within the modular synthetiser. This CV is reused (multiplexed) and modified to generate several daughter CV signals that modulate analogue audio and video signals in the modular. Concomitantly, MIDI messages control a Hacked (Circuit-bent) Roland JV1010 ROM synthetiser module and the audio output is modified in real time by engaging circuit bent combinations. There is a total of 50 bending points that the authors has researched over the past 2 years and all bending points react with each other producing a very large number of bent combinations. This is helped by the DIY bend matrix which consists of momentary switches in a matrix array that can be freely patched to incoming bend points from the JV1010.

Improvisation with the system results in a rich/complex audiovisual output that is generated from the dynamically controlled CV and audio from the TP-Neon audio processed trough an analogue modular synthesizer (A), EZ-TP MIDI controlled audio from the JV1010 being modulated by the circuit-bending matrix (Neon) combinations. The author has used the TP-Neon live and in his last LP [8] and finds that the technical and musical constrains of the instruments is a powerful creative driving factor. Also, the highly unpredictable character of the instrument when performing enhances the ‘happening-effect’ and uniqueness of every improvisation. Given that the TP-Neon architecture is reproducible, a notation system can be proposed if more prescriptive compositional works are desired. For instance trumpet notation can be augmented with matrix indexing notation to describe the bend points whilst classic notation of dynamics could be used to describe control voltages at the envelope generator stage. The number of circuit bent combinations from the bandoneon-like keypad allows for combinatorics up to the order of ten to the power of 17 (i.e. 50 bent points with a 20 key patchable switch matrix). In other words, each voice of the JV1010 can be resynthesised to produce around 1.3*1017, a great number considering the simplicity and accessibility of the interface. Also, since humming dynamics at the EZ-TP is converted to continuous control multiplexed voltages in the modular synth, it is possible to control fine nuances of analogue patches with just dynamics alone. For instance, humming softer or louder gives the performer/improviser great control over a number of CV inputs (filter cut-offs, pitches, amplitudes, timing parameters, etc) in real time. This gives the instrument a gratifying sense of nuance control but paradoxically further expends on the unpredictability of results during performance.


[1]        Bowers, J. and Archer, J. “Not hyper, not meta, not cyber but infra-instruments,” in NIME ’05 Proceedings of the 2005 conference on New interfaces for musical expression. Singapore 2005. pp. 5-10.

[2]        Collins, N. Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking, London: Roultedge, 2009.

[3]        Ghazala, Q. R. “Circuit-bending and living instruments” Experimental Musical Instruments, 1993. 9: pp. 21-23.

[4]        Cascone, K. “The aesthetics of failure: “Post-digital” tendencies in contemporary computer music.” Computer Music Journal, 2000. 24(4): pp. 12-18.

[5]        Ghazala, Q. R. “The Folk Music of Chance Electronics: Circuit-Bending the Modern Coconut” Leonardo Music Journal, 2004. 14: pp. 97-104.

[6]        Richards, J. “Getting the Hands Dirty”, Leonardo Music Journal. 2008. 18: pp. 25-31.

[7]        Bach, G. “The extra-digital axis mundi: Myth, magic and metaphor in laptop music”, Contemporary Music Review, 2003. 22(4): pp. 3-9.

[8]        LopezDoNaDo. Todd’s Paresis. (LP) 2010. Brisbane: Tunecore. Track 3: Toods Pearesis: Room of Hearts.


QLD Conservatorium Electroacoustic Ensemble


Live electroacoustic improv. Jesus LopezDoNaDo, Lloyd Barrett, Mitch, Sedelle, Sophia, Tim and Holly

As part of my doctorate in musical arts at the Quensland Conservatorium, I recently started contributing to the Electroacoustic Ensemble (EA). The EA is moderated by composer Lloyd Barrett who is being lately producing very interesting music with a tool called metasynth: [check his music]. So far it’s being a pleasure to work with the ensemble and it is of great value for my composition-practice since the EA is a safe place to experiment with unstable/new improvisation live-sets and compositional ideas.

A set using a cocoquantus processing a feedback loop from a grand piano being concominatly exited by a sustainiac guitar sustainer pedal.

The aim of the EA at the QLD-Con is: ” This ensemble provides an opportunity to work with computers, electronic devices and acoustic instruments in the creation of live performance works that do not rely on traditional notation or the pitch/duration paradigm.  Students will collaborate to develop soundscapes from flexible performative frameworks that emphasise audio-visuality, dynamic timbre, spatial/environmental awareness and human movement/interaction “

Holly was building an Auduino contraption.

Another EA member, Sedelle, heavily processes her trumpet with effects and looper pedals.

Music from Mental States: Data Base Generation

A diagram on preliminary ideas for data generation during initial stages of my PhD on Music Composition at the QLD Con. The proccess start with a series of precomposed themes that will be feed into tyhe system as audio files. Individual will listen to each them and during this process several sources of data will be explored – i.e.

(i) Mental State Examination and Diferential Diagnosis;

(ii) Selected physiological parameters traditional known to correlate with mental state changes, i.e. skin impedance, pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and body temperature. During this process of data acquisition some individual demographics will be recorded too, i.e. age, sex, gender, etc.

(iii) Electroencephalographic activity – these will be collected with the minimality invasive and readily available Emotiv EPOC EEG system.

Then i-iii, along with the predetermined ‘audio themes’ will be subject to a, still to be envisaged, process of dimensionality reduction and parametrization which will populate a database.

This database will be subjected to Data Mining proccess in order to extract Mental State Biased Compositional Rules. For instance, decision trees, cluster representaions, or just knowledege from sensitivity analysis.

Pls – feel free to comment by posting in this space.


new album ~~~~ Todd’s Paresis ~~~~ out now

[ONE]  I was in the vicinity – El galeno saw me fall ‘2’ days ago – I had a seizure whiles in the offing – in the room of hearts or picas – cannot bring to mind. Galeno came out in the waiting room, which also had hearts and saw me trying to walk – my stance was aberrant and inconclusive. I couldn’t plan the first trance/stance because my left leg developed a weakness in the territory of the alpha dermatome – that that not prpoisense – it was turned in and very puny – not with an air of consolation and the committee arrived and dr, well. Todd’s Paresis.  [TWO] It was turned pigeon toed and I am walking on my – birds rushed against 2 diametrically opposed windows – shattered all bones and tinted the glass like frost – with my knee completely bent. It lasts anywhere from 27 minutes to an 20000 seconds or an a half and a quarter because 6 birds died – perhaps Todd’s or lack of aerial proprioception – i care if bones cannot be accounted anymore and the lack of fusion with frost or metal is imperfect. It only happens after my bigger seizures. (a) we have told. (x) every single bird. (n) one of my neurologists. (f) my right leg is fine. (q) does yet every bird has failed to transcend (xr). (Tao) Todd’s Paresis. (l) Never before. (phi) no other said anything. (int) How significant is this? (real) Todd’s Paralysis?

released 21 November 2011

Todds paralysis … Soon

Working hard on a new single called todds paralysis – part of the pseudo seizure series … Stay tuned



I recently implemented a physical contraption that I deliberately named E.U.R.A.Z.Z.I. – a CV controllable eurorack conversion of ciat-lonbarde’s tetrazzi organus. E.U.R.A.Z.Z.I. was instrumental on interpreting my 2003 graphic score and composition entitled “Sonnet”. This composition is based on the juxtaposition of, (i) numerological findings and (ii) musicality features, both systematically extracted from the poem “Sonnet” by Federico Garcia Llorca:

Federico Garcia Lorca - Sonnet

   I know that my profile will be serene
in the north of an unreflecting sky.
Mercury of vigil, chaste mirror
to break the pulse of my style.

   For if ivy and the cool of linen
are the norm of the body I leave behind,
my profile in the sand will be the old
unblushing silence of a crocodile.

   And though my tongue of frozen doves
will never taste of flame,
only of empty broom,

   I'll be a free sign of oppressed norms
on the neck of the stiff branch
and in an ache of dahlias without end.

Ciat-Lonbarde Tetrazzi Organus Eurorack Modular Synth Module DIY conversion – with added CV control !

This is a photo tutorial on how to “eurofy”a tetrazzi organus. The tetrazzi organus is a touch sensitive synthesizer that generates highly banded sounds using piezo trasducers attached to rigid boards – press barres. In my implementation y shall teach you how to make the press barres CV controllable with + AND – voltages (you cannot believe how freaking good this sounds!). Additionally i suggest how to construct a euro faceplate and how to power the tetrazzi board using your onboard Doepfer style cable and power supply. This is a physical contraption that I deliberately named E.U.R.A.Z.Z.I.

Why did I do this? because the E.U.R.A.Z.Z.I. was instrumental on interpreting my 2003 graphic score composition entitled “Sonnet“. This composition is based on the juxtaposition of, (i) numerological findings and (ii) musicality features, both systematically extracted from the poem “Sonnet” by Federico Garcia Llorca:

I do not wish to distract you from your eager DIY intentions but, if you want a taste of the E.U.R.A.Z.Z.I’s capabilities you can check “Sonnet” track as follows:

Federico Garcia Lorca - Sonnet

   I know that my profile will be serene
in the north of an unreflecting sky.
Mercury of vigil, chaste mirror
to break the pulse of my style.

   For if ivy and the cool of linen
are the norm of the body I leave behind,
my profile in the sand will be the old
unblushing silence of a crocodile.

   And though my tongue of frozen doves
will never taste of flame,
only of empty broom,

   I'll be a free sign of oppressed norms
on the neck of the stiff branch
and in an ache of dahlias without end.

The tetrazzi organus is defined by Professor Blasser as follows:

“Tetrazzi is the newest incarnation of the Organus series, a mandala of analog oscillator circuits that can cross-modulate to form the empire of infinite circuitry known as pure sonic chaos. Electronically, it represents some of the more profound electronic complices that were developed in the 20th century,  such as Buchla Source of Uncertainty,  U.S. Navy Phantastron Radar Circuit, and Piezoelectric Flex Technology. It is a way to make the touch-sensitivity of human organs into touch-sensitivity on the pipe organ, pipe here meaning “squishing electron flow via ceramic transducer”.  You got to love this man!

Step 1: assemble the tetrazzi board as per Senior Blassier instructions

Step 2: I used a Doepfer A-100B42 42 HP / 213 mm blank panel as a guide to cut a wood front panel from a 3.5mm timber sheet.

Step 3: give it a bit of a sand and mark the mounting holes.

Step 4: cut another sheet of the same height but 5-6 cm narrower – this will make your press barres

Step 5: divide the 2nd sheet on 4 equally sized press barres … ca va?

Next … step: i have a jigsaw + I am sloppy so i have to sand them all down to straight sides!

then … your press barres sould look like this 

the next step: get some M3 screws/nuts and place your press barres – the nuts will serve as spacers that will elevate all barres at the same height. it is also a good idea to number all barres 1 to 4 and make sure that:

1. you drill and place the screws so that you clear the mounting rails

2. the screws can conduct electricity – they will be your bend/touch points (4/barre)

take the plunge into the next step! … give your timber tender loving care with a bit of oil or varnish … make it look gorgeous!  

what’s up now? another step: drill and mount

1. x4 momentary switches

2. 4 pots – 100K

3. L-out and R-out (middle left and right jacks)

4. x4 CV in jacks for press barre modulation

… also drill 4 holes for press-barre piezo cables to be solder into the tetrazzi board

LooKing GooD! don’t you think? –

step (n+1) … attach the tetrazzi board to the back-panel … i used PCB stick-on elevators – – you might also use brackets – crews+PCB separators … you decide my friend!

now solder all panel components to where they suppose to be according to ciat-lonbarde’s assembly instructions … i will tell you how to wire your barre-CV-in’s soon – do not despair amigo.

now, how to build and connect you Doepfer-style ribbon connector … the next image will tell you that you would solder all GND pins together and all +12 volts pins together and then just connect +12 and GND to whey belong in the tetrazzi board (the PSU adapter points)

now triple-check your doepfer jack since you now shall epoxy this baby onto the board and against one on the jack triplets. Use clamps to assist epoxy-driven union and let cure according to your epoxy instructions

voila … you have officially EUROfied a tetrazzy – since you have all that epoxy goo mix drying out, hurry and glue the piezos to the barre boards and then attach the barres to your panel – remember – one nut serve to elevate the barre from the panel and a 2nd nut shall secure it to the dorsal/back panel. do not forget to solder the piezos on the board  🙂

ahora … otro paso: give your baby its umbilical cord – she is hungry!

well, the time has come, i’ll let you know: for your barre-CV-in’s, wire GND of each CV jack (the closest jack-pin to the panel) to its corresponding black/GND piezo connection at the board. the connect each CV-jack-tip-pin to a 330K resistor and the other end of the resistor to the red/positive piezo connector at the board. if you have an eagle eye you can see this at the next couple of pics …

happy chappy ? you bet – you have build a tetrazzi organus into your eurorack modular synth. you can CV-modulate it using bipolar voltages and also play-it with your pressure gestures concomitantly

if you build one of these … please let me know and send some pics: that will pay-off the time and effort that I invested into this post. lots of love,