Today we first unpacked a Arduino microcontroller each, making circuits and controlling them with the Arduino IDE. We firstly ran a code to make an LED blink, then adjusting to our blinking rate of choice. We then controlled a piezo speaker with a script, programming melody by adjusting pitch and beat for each note. The code was downloaded from the oomlout website. From there we later managed to manipulate it, adding more pitch information to sequencing more complex melodies.
We also found out that you need java installed on your computer for Arduino to work, after one of us in Oslo struggled to get past a stream of red error messages on the first task. Good to know! just in case you don’t have it installed already.
Afterwards we used the Korg littleBits, a modular analog synthesizer. Unpacking it felt a bit like christmas, fresh box with toys inside, full of joy and possibilities, and we knew we could play with them all afternoon! We firstly had some time to figure out how to fit together these magic little magnetic lego pieces, experimenting with various signal chain possibilities. After tweaking to get a patch we liked, we got together for a impromptu performance.
It has to be mentioned that our experience of the jam using korg little bits felt much more together and expressive than other parts of the workshop, since the medium was better recognised by the group, and also more intuitive for performance. It seemed that with the time available we were able to have greater control over the sound and the manipulation of parameters; both making the patch and during performance. Unfortunately in Trondheim we had some headache, caused by the annoyingly dysfunctional batteries, and a unresponsive filter bit. If you try this out at home, and experience issues with your chain, like we did, remember to check the status of the battery (or a rogue broken filter module!:)
The other improvisation, including all the students was a little bit like we were all playing our own little game, since everyone was so immersed by their synth patches and twisting knobs; but it was quite fun nonetheless. In some parts you could hear some intriguing sounds coming through, and some combining musically.