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Proto-Chiptunes DIY digital synthesis

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Phillip Stearns

Proto-Chiptunes: the hypothetical ancestor of modern-day 8-bit video game music, known as "Chiptunes". Before there were arduinos, video game systems, or even microchips capable of producing sound, there was only binary logic. But in order to find the roots of this ancient music, we must go back further, back before the time of logic, far back into the pre-history of electronics. From the primordial ooze of analog circuits arose the first digital logic circuits. Made only from transistors, resistors and diodes, they clawed their way out of the random void to assert their unambiguous binary dominion over the whole world of electronics. When the digital circuits had established themselves as supreme rulers of the electronic world, and mastered the use of fire, they developed a style of music called "0 01 0110 10010011 0101 01 1" known today as "Proto-Chiptunes".

In this workshop we'll use simple digital logic microchips to make an complex, rhythmic pattern-generator to control a square-wave oscillator. In the process we'll cover the basics of using CMOS microchips to create oscillators, frequency dividers, and sequencers. A demonstration on how to expand the circuit into a complex music generating machine will close out the workshop. You keep the final circuit and materials! No former knowledge of electronics is required and only a minimal amount of soldering is necessary.

PRICE: 75$ including parts.