“In one easy evening,” says Reed Ghazala, “you can discover and build an instrument capable of making sounds and music no one else has ever yet heard: an instrument that exists nowhere else in the universe.” With what? A degree in electronics? Nahh. Thousands of dollars in equipment? Nahh: just some dirt-cheap electronic toy you can find at a garage sale, a second-hand store, or in your own closet. Loads of skills? Nahh: just the most basic, “baby-simple” soldering knowledge. And this book.
Since the late ‘60s, Ghazala’s been pioneering these techniques; he’s built instruments for Peter Gabriel, the Stones, many others. More recently, he gave the technique a name: “circuit bending.” And it’s taken off, getting attention everywhere from Slashdot to Wired. Now, he’s written the seminal book on the subject: Circuit-Bending: Build Your Own Alien Instruments.
Ghazala covers everything you need to know: how musical instruments work; how to set up your workshop; how to solder; how to build, polish, and refine your “bent” instrument; even how to design your own personal “alien orchestra.” The heart of the book is its projects. Follow them, step-by-step, or use them as a launching pad for your own creations. Start with an old Speak & Spell (or a Speak & Read, or a cheap, cheesy Casio SA-2 keyboard, or something from Fisher-Price) and, in one short chapter, you can create something magical.
Along the way, you’ll come to see electronics very differently: not as something precisely ordained down to the nanometer but -- again in Ghazala’s words -- “as an organic mechanism, animal-like.” Plus, you’ll have a blast. Bill Camarda, from the October 2005 Read Only