June 23, 2010 Comments Off

Step Lively

Everything that moves breaks, and that’s as true of stepper motors as rotator cuffs. Last night, the stepper motor that drives the timing belt that shakes the cabasa twisted out its last ch-ch-ch-ch sound. When it receives the command to shake, it tries to turn but can’t summon the torque to move the beads of the cabasa. It just grunts softly and vibrates its frame. Maybe it will semi-retire to lighter duty as an egg timer.

The motor is a Shinano Kenshi that I bought on eBay for about $15, which I thought was a good deal when the motor worked. In retrospect, I got what I paid for, but I’m grateful that the motor failed when I have no gigs scheduled for a couple months and not, say, before my interview on NPR. When the I realized the motor was not coming back, I started searching for a replacement of the same make and model before I realized that this was a stupid idea. Why buy what just broke? As an alternative, try learning, I thought to myself.

Determined to reach base camp on the stepper motor learning-curve, I headed to the website of Anaheim Automation, where the motors are as tough as the sales reps are gruff (Hi Kelly! Thanks for your help this morning). Assuming I read the data sheet correctly, which I wouldn’t bet on, the Anaheim motor I picked up, the 23Y002S-LW 8, should more than handle the cabasa. If it can really generate 72 oz/in of torque at 4 RPS, I will be able to shake the cabasa at inhuman speeds. Check the datasheet for yourself.

In honor of the service of the Shinano Kenshi motor to Jazari, I’m sharing this Kutiman video, which uses eighth notes in the cabasa to ground an off-kilter drum break. Watch for it and the cabasa player wearing Nike athletic gear and a fez(!) at 0:36.

Filed under: Machinery


June 7, 2010 Comments Off

New Tracks!

Two new tracks, After LL and M5/M7, are out, and these are the most beat-based I’ve made yet. They are still entirely improvised, with nothing composed ahead of time or sequenced, but I’ve focused more on driving the beat forward with subtle variations. I still like the free-flowing explorations I did earlier–especially Get To The Chopper–but I think I’ve gained a lot by doing less. The new approach lets me build energy over longer stretches of time and set up moments of tension and release. One side-effect of this approach is that the tracks have gotten longer–After LL is over 9 minutes–at the same time that they’ve gotten leaner. Taut, patient, and propulsive is what I was going for.

You can stream both with the player in the right sidebar. If you’d like to bump them at your next robot dance party or provide musical accompaniment to positive self-talk (“I am a machine! I am a machine!”) while doing your elliptical routine you can download both from iTunes or Amazon.

And if you feel inclined, please rate them or write a review. Both are a significant help and take only a moment to do. Also if you are beat producer and areserious about making a remix, contact me about getting the stems.

Filed under: Audio