Victorian Synthesizer

The idea behind the the so called Victorian Synthesizer is to build sound components from a synthesizer as electroacoustic/mechanical devices ** as I understand this device should present the kinds of parts and capabilities traditional synthesizers have (oscillators, filters, amplitude envelopes, modulation) but using techniques known to the Victorians! a 'collision of contemporary concepts with outmoded means' that makes it an 'imagined historical' instrument...
In fact the Victorian Synthesizer is electro-mechanical rather than electronic; manual rather than voltage control is typically applied...accordingly the name comes with the fact that electro-magnetism is an 18th century discovery much celebrated by the Victorians.

To build one what is needed is pulling a part a speaker, get the inside part together with the two cables coming out of it than connect these cables with a battery through some crocodile cables and that's about it! The simple contact of the two cables produces a pulsed kind of creepy sound together with smelly sparkles...
(watch out for too long contacts, as often... they tend to burn away!)

Any sort of surface made by other conductor materials (a metallic sheet for example) can support the connection and give a variety of sonic texture accordingly to the probe gestures... The sounds can be modulated in the pitch by applying pressure on the membrane of the speaker. Also diverse objects like cloves and pins can be used and let percussively rattle on the top of the speaker in order to capture the popping-out movement of it: appearance of the conversion of the electro-magnetic energy into mechanical one. (thanks Mr. Physicists!)

Here a video of an essay with strings:

- Christian Haines, Stephen Whittington 'Music Technology Forum' Lecture presented at the Electronic Music Unit, University of Adelaide, South Australia, 26/07/2007
- Bowers, John. Suborderly ( [Accessed 1/08/2007] .
- "The Victorian Synthesizer". Field Muzick. ( [Accessed 1/08/2007]


Bowers, J. and Archer, P. (2005). Not Hyper, not meta, not cyber but infra-instruments. In Proceedings of New Instruments for Musical Expression 2005 (NIME 05), Vancouver, Canada.

Bowers, J. and Villar, N. (2006). Creating Ad Hoc Instruments with Pin&Play&Perform. In Proceedings of New Instruments for Musical Expression 2006 (NIME 06), Paris, France.

Collins, N. (2006). The Celebrated Jumping Speaker of Bowers County: Twitching Loudspeakers with Batteries. Chapter 5 of Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking. New York: Routledge.


First Soundtrack

Script by Ryan Flavel; realized at Logic Films Adelaide



for Piano, Theremin, Jupiter and VCS3.

Air assembly of different cognitive states, simultaneous stimuli for senses in an improvised combination of waves motion.
Recognition is brought by a constant, as often happens, but this time it won't be rhythm or harmonic structure, rather shapes...
The piece played on the piano leads the voice: it is inspired by a choral song by Andrea Kaluse for memory and mercy.
The introducing voice's from Lucy Bigelow Rosen in an interview for the Dutch Philips East Indies Broadcasting station (PHOHI, 1938).
The form rises from an interpretation on circular hands movements together with Jupiter base line projections. Intention is to explore new sounds prescinding from variables control
- as to say: always keep a Synthi in your camping bag and enjoy the journey!

"Thanks Vinny and all EMU department!"

Ref: Lucie Bigelow Rosen