circuit bending
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 to discover.

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.

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