Jump to content

Ciat Lonbarde Rollz-5 Drum Machine

   (0 reviews)

The focus is a collection of modules called “Rollz-5”, which creates organic rhythms out of geometrical forms. A future direction is to create electronic sound devices based on the platonic solids and other 3-D topographies.

After creating several standalone pieces, I decided to design a group of paper circuits that combine in diverse ways as an assemblage. I intended to confront the notion of “drum machine”, which implies the sterile regimentation of time, and transform it into a collection of organic flows generated by geometrical forms. These forms and their accompanying filters can be switched, wired, or touched; the final manifestations range from a small preset switch-box, a squeezable spike-dome, or a traditional modular. My first implementation uses five slim walnut panels, connected by heavy cloth-wire, which I hang on the wall to play and fold up to store (figure 1). I exposed the nodes on the surface as inlaid brass pegs, for alligator clips to grasp.

The top two panels contain the pulse-brain circuitry- the geometrical forms that I call rolls. They are three, four, five, and six-noded versions of the same simple transistor circuit (figure 2). They cycle impulses, inverting polarity at each node; imagine a pulse oscillator flipping at a set frequency. From this humble base whole montages can be built by connecting nodes to nodes on other rolls (figure 3). I abstract the rolls as polygons; a square is a four-noded roll as a pentagon is five-noded. Connections can contain a resistance which softly melds two nodes together; a connection without resistance creates a new monad node. During experiments with the rolls, I found an interesting difference between even and odd ones. Take a 6-roll (figure 4). The lozenges surrounding it represent the temporary state of each node, where white is inverse of black. Start on a black node and follow the arrows- the impulse ends as it started. The even rolls are stable and alone they maintain a certain periodicity. Now look at the 5-roll (figure 5). Start on the star and follow the impulse around- when you arrive on the start node now it is inverted. Odd rolls exhibit a “paradox spiral”; in attempting to resolve their states, they transcend periodicity and go into a sort of high-frequency chaotic trance. The combination of even and odd lead to rich experiments in pulse and periodic fuzz-burst.

Meditating on the oscillographs of my experiments, I realized I should design filters, or translators, to bring the odd ultrasound/radio blurps into audible range as well as work with the low frequency even pulses. The bottom three panels of my Rollz-5 (figure 1) each contain four of a kind of translator. For simplicity’s sake, I allowed one input node and one control knob for each translator. By abstracting the most important feature into one control, learning and controlling it is easy. On the first translator, an “Ultrasound Filter”, the knob sets the cutoff frequency around which ultrasounds are reflected down to audible range. It uses a switched capacitor filter, which has a (happy) side-effect of heterodyning high frequency sound by its reference tone. In figure 6, the top trace shows mostly odd-roll chaotic ultrasound, and the bottom shows a translation. It sounds like an old-time radio as it sweeps through stations; there are audible difference tones swooping up and down. This translator also filters the timbre of the even pulses.

The second translator type is called “Gongs”. It works with even pulse material, waiting a period set by the control knob, then pulsing a resonant filter preset to a certain pitch and damping. Normally I would desire moveable pitches, but I reconciled with set pitches because this is a drum machine- The tones mark phrases around which melodies develop externally, and I would rather control the phrase length than the tone of the gong. Anyhow, a creative hacker could easily mod these circuits to make the pitches moveable. Figure 7 shows an even pulse rhythm on top, and a gong translation on the bottom. The sonic effect is anything from a short woodblock tone to a long deep resonant gong, synchronized at short or long periods.

The final translator type is called “Auto VDog”, which uses the same resonant filter as Gongs, but at a very low frequency, to transform pulses into a slow undulation. This undulation controls the amplitude of a simple drone tone, to make a ghostly complement to the pulse material. Figure 8 shows the raw pulses on top, and the translation on bottom. I created this translator to balance with the plucked and pulsed sounds. It’s like sending pulses through a watery wave-tank which speaks a simple tone, a complement to the more abrupt rhythms of the other translators, yet it relates periodically because it is based on the same raw material.


Type: Analog
Sound Engine: Frequency Modulation
Pattern Engine
Programming: Random
Sounds Per Pad
Sounds Per Pad: 1
Sources: Synthesizer
Filters: Resonance
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 12
Timbrality: 1
Tuning: Atonal, Micro
Modes: Polyphonic
Patterns User: 0
Case: Desktop
Trigger Pads : Touch Plates
Controls: Buttons
MIDI / Sync / Trigger
Audio Outputs: 1/4" Phone Jack, Mono Out
List: FREE Paper Circuits
Released: 2016
Design Notes:

Designed by Peter Blasser

Product Sites & Reviews
Company Product Sites:
[+] ciat-lonbarde.net

  Report Drum Machine

User Feedback

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.


  • Create New...