Yale OMI: Mad Noise with Synths!

The Yale Open Music Initiative is a new organization at Yale run by Dr. Scott Peterson. The group focuses on using open source software and hardware for music creation! So far we have covered using the Linux operating system for music production and basic synthesizer circuits using the 555 timer.

Using the little kit from sparkfun, we were able to generate some fat sawtooth waves! Two potentiometers change pitch and PWM respectively. The 556 is actually is an integrated circuit with two 555 timers. In this setup, the output of one 555 timer actually modulates the input of the second 555 timer. When coupled with some acoustic piano, avant-garde electro acoustic music born =D! The circuit is surprisingly simple and it’s amazing what kind of sounds you can produce using a 20$ circuit. Next week Yale OMI will be making the Atari Punk Console…some more fat synth sounds to come.

For Linux, we’ve been using Ubuntu to explore software such as Ardour. Although routing audio and MIDI in Linux is a little more complicate and involved than music-friendly macs, Linux is a very capable platform for music creation. I was especially surprised by the quality of some of the plugins – the Calf series Organ for example, sounds like something you would have to pay for! Coupled with paid options like Bitwig, one could totally rock an all-Linux audio setup!

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