Brendon Bussy

Jacques van Zyl and the Wynberg String Accelerator

Posted in Electronics, Invention, Research, Sound by Brendon Bussy on March 9, 2011

My collaborations with Jacques go back to our first meeting at the Unyazi Electronic music festival (Joburg 05).
I’d created a work for the festival called CMYK, based on an analysis of a visual work by Paul Edmunds – a rather long winded live Audiomulch and Mandolin performance , which met with an unexpectedly enthusiastic audience response (my immediate thought “I’ve sold out!”).

The next day I ran a workshop and afterwards had a long chat with this very polite man who confessed to have recorded my performance and professed that he was a ‘flight attendant’ quickly following that with (in case there was any confusion) ‘you know – like an air hostess’, but also that he built speakers and amplifiers and wasn’t planning to stay in his present high flying occupation for long.

He didn’t and instead went on to resign and put all of his energies into developing Phi Audio, his bespoke speaker company.  And we continued to correspond and, where possible, when Jacques was in town, to dabble in a range of audio experiments including the famous (to us and those within squealing range) Knapkas, a circuit bent noise generator built into a Genius computer speaker box complete with light responsive controls.

Well recently Jacques moved down to what he calls the ‘Fair Cape’ (no one else does by the way – only desperate admen) i.e. the part where I happen to live, and we decided to try a more regular and hopefully productive collaboration.  The purpose of which: to bravely break down all barriers to musical instrument innovation, thus storming the barriers which hold back new frontiers in experimental music and setting Wynberg’s population of feral dogs to howling.  On Wednesdays. Or any suitable free day.

And thus (and hence) the Wynberg String Accelerator, or as Jacques prefers to call it:
The Lesser Load-Dependent Adaptive Power Bicore-Controlled Electromagnetic String Driver

Let me break that down into muso/artist/normal person speak (removing the ‘um’ prefixes which Jacques tends to toss in when particularly frustrated by my numb stares).

Basically what we’ve done is the following:
– We’ve taken Jacques’ adaptation of a bicore circuit (usually used to make neural net BEAM robots – see youtube)
– And used it to drive a solenoid from a door bell (now sadly no more)
– Which has in turn caused a stretched metal string (mandolin) with sardine can resonator to oscillate unpredictably.

It sounds like this.

Now ain’t that sweet.  Read Jacques’ exposition here for his thorough explanation and witty comments about sardine cans 🙂

A close up of an early version of the solenoid. Note tortured wooden block base, the result of enthusiastic sound design for this project.

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