Thursday, October 17, 2013

Standuino workshop and DIY synths

I've had another interesting week-end, since last saturday I joined a workshop to build a Standuino Micro Granny - a DIY digital granular sampler. This time I had reading glasses and a magnifier so I managed to properly solder about 200 points, including minuscule ones to connect a micro-chip and a micro DC card slot, also plenty of resistors, diodes, capacitors, LEDs and stuff. I'm very happy with this little noise machine, on which I can upload over a hundred samples and edit or modify them in real time (with bitcrusher, LFO, pitch shifter, and Standuino specific looping effect). Its MIDI socket  allows to plug it in a MIDI keyboard and use the samples as instrument sounds - and the sound quality is good enough to use it on stage like a more standard electronic instrument. And since I tremendously improved my soldering skills, I also acquired its baby brother, the Standuino Fra Angelico DIY digital synth, that I should build soon before I forget everything…

But what is Standuino you'll ask? Well it's a cool project from Czech Republic combining DIY technology, art and music, that released a few Arduino microchip-based instruments (as kit or not). They've been organizing several workshops in Europe to help building their kits and create an international network of musicians and artists (known as The Orchestra). They have a very interesting background, that they're happy to share while we're bend on our soldering. Like people of their generation, they got into DIY technology through the Internet and brand new digital stuff such as Arduino, that is now used by everybody around the world. But when they started to show their projects to their families, they figured out that most people from their parents and teachers generation who used to live in pre-consumer society Czechoslovakia had unsuspected skills in electronics, since they learned to fix by themselves all  kind of electronic devices that they wouldn't dump and replace when they'd go out of work - then created their own stuff. Standuino stands between these two influences, Internet-age technology and already almost forgotten modernist past, and it feels good.

We ended the workshop by a small improvised (though conducted) concert with more story telling (to know more you'll have to assist to one of these concerts!)(see the video at the bottom of this post). I've had a good time, learned a lot - including new skills -, had a lot of fun, met interesting and passionate people, left with a good instrument that I will include in the set of my new music project, and since I'm now a member of the Orchestra, I should perform all the future concerts that will happen in my area!

Thanks to Ines Birkhan for shooting the video and Daniel Schorno for introducing me to Standuino...

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