Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking Paperback – Apr 4 2006
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"Here we have, at last, an electronics book that caters to people who have ideas first, and electronics second…Collins offers a splendidly integrative look into the history of "sound art," basic electronics, and junk revisioning." --Make Magazine
"Nicolas Collins wants to tear apart your CD player..." --Wired Magazine
"...a brilliant, hands-on guide to electronic music making....[Collins] never ceases to amaze me with his latest bit of music or techno-logical innovation." --TapeOp Magazine
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book starts with some brief information on the tools you'll need plus the author's seven rules for experimentation. Part two is dedicated to listening. He shows you how to use radios and coils to find hidden electronic music, how to use the speaker as a microphone and vice versa, and how to use piezo disks to pick up tiny sounds, among other topics. Part three, on touching, shows you how to transform a portable radio into a synthesizer, change the clock circuit in toys to produce new sounds, and use photocells and pressure pads to "play" the modified toy. Part four, Building, shows the reader how to breadboard up some oscillators along with some controlling circuitry and produce gating, ducking, tremolo and panning effects. Part five, Looking, concerns translating video to audio using commonly found devices. The final section goes into depth on mixing circuits, how to build a good but cheap amplifier, connecting sensors to computers via game controllers, and a section on power supplies.
The book is written such that you should proceed from beginning to end, since the devices in earlier sections are used to assemble the devices in later chapters. By the time you finish you should have entire experimental musical instruments that you have assembled yourself.
This book has given me enough basic skills and inspiration that I have caught the bug. I have been to a few electronics/music workshops over the past couple of years and if the tutor does not recommend this book a fellow student does. I have since honed my skills and I am now running my own business designing and building guitar effects pedals and synthesizer kits. Get this book, you wont regret it
Because of the book's origination in a class situation, the explanations and pictures are not always ideally clear. There are a lot of typos. However, the writing is so engaging and the book is so much fun that it still deserves 5 stars. Where the book is incomplete ("how to I de-solder something?"), the Web is there.
The book is clearly aimed at musicians without any electronics experience. Nonmusicians might still enjoy it, but a joy in playing with sound is absolutely required. I suspect the book would be way too basic for people with any significant experience in electronics.
As sidebars, the book includes a considerable amount of history of electronic music -- who's who and what they've been up to.
I wish that more electronics writers would cover the material with this author's style and accuracy. Also, kudos for providing parts sources and for using easy to find and inexpensive components. (I've seen many people, myself included, become frustrated by hard-to-find parts lists or the use of discontinued items. These projects suffer from neither of those problems.)
In the end, you'll be left wanting to know more about the components and techniques you've picked up. (You'll probably want to add Don Lancaster's classic CMOS Cookbook to your shopping cart. It will give you the details about many of these components.) Highly recommended. I'm looking forward to other books by this author.
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