= Folktek Arts =

= Folktek Arts = The works of Arius Blaze, Ben Houston and co.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

the Impossible Box (official post)

It's been a long time coming and a busy summer but it's time to shed a little light on the impossible box.

I made this for myself in consideration of the fact that after making instruments and inventing oddities for ten or twelve years or whatever it's been, I was never really capable of having my own works for making music/playing with sound. So in January of last year I started compiling a list of works I've created that I've always wanted to be able to consistently work with - to get back into music with. Initially the list was a few things (a time machine, a garden, some drum synthesis and sequencing, etc) but in further consideration it occured to me that I'd be happier making multiples of those things, diving into new realms, expanding on sequencing and so on. Eventually the list was admittedly a bit out of control but rather than crossing off a few ideas, I said fuck it and went for it.
At first I was uncertain about exactly how it would all work together and I spent a solid month agonizing over all of it, drawing plans and even dreaming about the details so that when I woke I was able to write it all out. It was terrible, honestly. I was also not so confident in my woodworking skills and the box was a bit beyond me but I pieced away at it and it all worked out nicely.
The project took a year to "complete", though there are still a few things I'm working on before I can call it a done deal. It was more work than I had ever anticipated, it came out larger and more full of sound than I had considered and in the end I couldn't be happier.

The folding box is oak with walnut splines - measuring about 4' wide with each inner panel (lower and upper) at 2' deep, essentially making a 4' square if it were all laid out. 

Each module panel is done with player piano music paper and labeled on my Corona typewriter. This took a helluva lot of planning. The modules are also all lined with brass and I created almost all of the switches, keys, lamps and buttons.

the modules;
The time scape section is the main brain for timing of all of the rest of the impossible box time-based modules. It's a sampler with six clock outputs. Any of the clock outs can be sent to the clock multipliers.

There are two clock multipliers that output voltage to run any/all of the;
- 4 ADSR's 
- 4 relay based sequencers (used to alter the time scape sample, trigger drums or on/off switches)
- 2 CV based sequencers used to trigger;
  = analog drums (clicky, poppy, bassy goodness)
- 3 CV based sequencers used to control;
  = any of 6 oscillators (3 sine, 3 square)
  = any of four ADSR's
  = any of three filters
  = the timing of any of 3 digital delays
  = or all of the above

- Two pitch shifters, each of which is drastically different, one of which becomes a sampler. 
- A harmonizer
- three reverbs with multiple styles
- a four track looper
- phaser
- independant looper and analog delay
- digital drum with trigger outs and a piezo panel for finger drumming
- intelligent modulator that slices things up in brilliant ways
- 2 dumb modulators that slice things up in simple ways or send CV
- multiplier/audio vactrol control panel
- 4 ADSR's (as mentioned) that send CV but also take direct audio
- Midi clock out (accepts pulse from time scape)
- 2 mixers (one 4 channel mono, one 8 channel stereo)

and the amplified acoustic panels;
- 2 thumb pianos,
- single string slide-based thing
- a blank panel to scratch at or set things that make sound on.
- and finally...a melodica (yes...that's fuckin right)

Though audio patching can be done with 1/4" jacks (which I prefer) there is also a main patch panel that has most ins and outs in one place for direct complex patching.
Any external audio can be sent into just about anything.

I'm currently contemplating how to distribute sound but there will be things to listen to soon coming exclusively from the impossible box. But basically, it goes on forever. I patch and run sound into sound into adsr into effect on multiple pathways, into a mixer and out drips the sweetness.


that is all for now. end transmission.

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