electric tuba you have?
|It's a combination of several things: It's a fairly simple
oscillator, that is oscillating 1 to 2 octaves underneath my voice pitch,
so this is an analogue synthesizer in a way. Secondly itís a 'brain', routing
the sound though several filters. But most visible of all, it's a wooden
controller, with holes for my thumbs and for wires. With some tension,
a aluminum strip is screwed over it. It this strip six switches and one
pot are mounted. These control the brain. A VGA cable is used to transport
all data to the synth and brain. The volume control is organized by a gate/compressor/limiter..
On top of the wooden grip, is a microphone, for the voice control primarily
of volume and pitch.
It has a liquid and fat electronic sound, that has no physical equivalent,
nor the side effects of mechanic instruments. If you found dead notes on
your bassguitar or ever tried to find the best way to pickup a double bass
with a mike, you know which nasty side effects I mean. This bass has no
feedback. I was afraid it would react to loud drums, but it doesn't, so
I can be a good tendem (a bike for two) with a drummer or DJ. It's a flexible
controller, in the sense that I can play both staccato an long glissandi.
It's intuitive to play, I can play any bassline the
moment I think of it.
Why an electronic bass?
I consider myself genetically programmed to play bass. My grandfather
was a tubaist, his father played the double bass. I grew up listening to
guitar orientated songs and later playing the bass guitar. As I became
interested in electronic music, I just built a instrument that's a combination
of all the instruments above:
Itís controlled by voice, therefor uses singing skills, it has a microphone
and buttons on a handheld controller making it reminding of a tuba. It's
made of wood and metal like a guitar, uses filters like in guitar effects.
But the main difference is that it uses an electronic oscillator as the
source, giving a heavy electronic bass sounds like those popular in Jungle/Drum'n'Bass.
|An intuitive interface
It started dreaming of an electronic instrument
that was intuitive, easy to play (especially from the RSI point of view)
a liquid sounding, dedicated bass instrument.
I choose a single purpose apparatus over the
multi purpose, as I need it to be perfect at this one function. Normally
the quality of synths is mainly measured in it's number of possibilities,
but I consider this variable to be irrelevant, as it leaves the user with
a dinosaur interface, and text displays to understand what it does.
Multi purpose equipment already gave
me an huge OS, massive word processors, too many functions under the buttons
of my VCR and an incomprehensible microwave oven.
2. No dumb Knobs
One thing that is utterly uninteresting in knobs
is that they tend to stay in one place when you no longer touch them. Another
is that anyone can reach any setting at any point in time. So in stead
of two pots that control pitch and volume respectively, I decided to use
my voice to control these. That, as expected, gave me far more interesting
musical movements then the knobs of my old prototypes. The goal is reached.
I'd love to be able to use my tongue one day
to control timbre, as I would with a harmonica. The talkboxes are a very
direct option, but did not prove to be of much use on very low frequencies.
One aspect is done in volume, as the louder I sing, the more distorted
the bass sound gets. Easy. But also the filters (LP, BP & AP) gain
in effectiveness with more overtones in the sound.
4. Pedals for the Fingers
Guitarists need to press buttons with their feet.
This is too slow for me, and I have my hands free, so I moved these buttons
up to my hands for greater playing accuracy. Futher more, I made a little
brain from relais. With the use of this small relais brain, I can change
the route the sound travels through the effects.
I love relais. I call it a brain, as
me and Xavier van Wersch have built a huge relais based computer running
on 230 Volts, that is behaving by itself, using a floor with 25 switching
tiles as a hint of an input, and 8 speakers plus 8 230Volt outputs as its
outputs. It's behavior is organizes by letting relais switch themselves
and each other as cellular automata (game of life).
Next on my wishlist a tongue controller. Followed
by the wish to have a controller thatís directly connected to my neurons.
|This brain was designed and made
by Dave Krooshof, to interconnect
parts and pieces of the XafLab:
an Art Gallery soundapparatus exp.
Bookings and info via Xaf@mindless.com
Why playing the bass is cool.
It's the base of harmonic listening, as well as an important addition
to the rhythm.
If you strum a C chord on a guitar while I play an A, we hear an A
These features give the bassplayer an important yet subtle role in
the band. Interesting enough, in the last 10 ages of western music, the
bass is getting a more and more prominent role in music That's seems to
be an exponential curve. In the last years I notice more bass-awareness
among listeners (and their need for heavier amps to serve their needs).
Drum'n'Bass it's newest peak, it even outdated reggae and house.
Playing the bass gives an almost physical contact with the listeners,
not only their eardrums move, but their pants too.
Last but not least: Where guitar soli happen right in the most sensitive
and most damageable part of the ear (1-4 KHz) Bass sounds are said to be
harmless. Not everybody agrees on this, as the bass sounds have to pass
the high frequency areas of the basulair membrane first, but my feeling
is these are passed untoughed.
It's not to green though, no to enviromental to play bass: bass sounds
need far more energy to be as loud as the guitarsoli and snaredrums. That's
because humans are relatively deaf for low frequencies, but it's also the
physical aspect that makes people long for deep and low basses.
listening pleasure, I sampled this Electric Tuba. The sounds need to be
played in Macromedia's Flash. They're 6k, 60k, and 233k respectively. Click
the images to load them, close the popup windos to stop.
BTW: Be sure that you have Flash
player version 5 or higher, as your browser might crash if you use an old
player. You can check your player that at Macromedia's
The Hague 28-10-''00
Dave <email Dave Krooshof>
See also: 'Live Musical Interface'
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