As I promised a few weeks ago, when I demonstrated the $20 Vocoder, today I will introduce you to the “Chaos Panel,” I installed on my Casiotone CT-360 and show you what happens when you play with the knobs and switches thereupon. I call it the “Chaos Panel” because ordinarily you would call something like this a “control panel,” in that the knobs and switches on it would allow you to control some device. However, the knobs and switches on this panel don’t allow you to control anything. They might trigger something, or unleash something or make something happen, but there’s no way of knowing what, ahead of time. I have been playing with these knobs for a while now, and they still mystify me.
I installed these knobs and switches based on experiments I conducted on the circuit-board of the instrument. I found places where I could creatively short-circuit the device in such a way that effected the sound in an interesting way, and then I wired those connections to the knobs and switches on the Chaos Panel. Now that I have them all wired up and can use them simultaneously, they create even more chaos.
I like unpredictability in a musical instrument, and stochasticism in music generally. Often randomly generated patterns or sounds inspire creativity. On the other hand, the stock sounds on this old, super-bright sounding, ‘80s era digital synthesizer sound great when I use my mouth to modify the sound with the $20 Vocoder. Sometimes, playing with the Chaos Panel renders the machine completely dysfunctional, and I wonder how or if I will ever get it to work again. Then, just as mysteriously, it will snap back to perfect working order. It truly is a temperamental clavier.
I haven’t found the CT-360 quite as prolifically unpredictable as my much smaller, Casio ML-1 with light-up mini-keys from the ‘90s, but I have coaxed some interesting sounds and rhythms out of this machine. In this demonstration video you can see how some of these knobs and switches effect the sound in real time.
And here’s a little spontaneous composition I recorded with it: