aBOuT tHe arT
If you learn to solder and can drill a small hole
to mount a switch in, you can circuit-bend. Everything else is a process
of routine experimentation in which various short-circuits are created
in an attempt to alter the target device's audio behavior.
Audio toys not only are easy to circuit-bend, but
also are capable of sonic eccentricities beyond belief. The newly-implemented
line-output's signal, sharpened with EQ and expanded with reverb (standards
in the electronic studio), when fed into an amp or recording console easily
stands on its own.
Also important, audio toys are low-voltage devices.
I suggest you not try the process with any circuit operating on more than
nine volts. Six volts is even better.
Trying to circuit-bend any device
operating on the "house-current" of your wall outlet is OUT OF THE QUESTION!!!
This holds true even in the instance of AC adapters. Circuit-bending is
for BATTERY-POWERED CIRCUITS ONLY. It must be said: playing around
with the live circuit of anything plugged into your wall outlet can kill
you, as in dead, a pretty serious medical condition. Don't do it.
There is the rare chance, in this try-at-your-own-risk
art, that a component might overheat and burn out. Or even pop. In my
30+ years of bending circuits such a pop has only happened once. An external
power supply of too high a voltage was accidentally applied to the circuit.
Half a transistor was shot across the room. Yes, it was a nice little
flash... an angular, blue, miniature explosion. Even though I've never
experienced such a thing while bending a device operating on its own correct
internal batteries, I must suggest that eye protection be worn. More likely,
the downside of this odd art is the chance of destroying the target device
through overheating an internal micro-component within an integrated circuit.
This occurs rarely, but it does happen. However, circuit-benders find
this occasion out-weighed not only by the unique instruments capable of
being created and the fact that experienced benders find more successes
than failures, but also by the availability to buy audio toys, even complex
sampling keyboards and human voice generators, for a few dollars each
at second-hand shops. These outlets will supply the bender's workshop
with a differing and endless supply of experimental musical instruments
Perfect targets for circuit-bending are audio games
and toys that already produce interesting, good-sounding voices. Synthesized
human voices and sampled animal, imaginary, musical and concrete sounds
reside within many of these gadgets. As mentioned, musical keyboards,
even sampling keyboards, turn up at these stores now and then. Keyboards
often produce chance (aleatoric) music when circuit-bent. I call these
circuit-bent instruments Aleatrons.
Carrying a supply of batteries, "AA"s, "C"s, and
"D"s, will allow you to try the devices at the stores before buying.