Okay, well I don't have the exact moment it happened on film, but if you can imagine me nearly falling out of my chair...
In this video I attempt to find out how it happened (I believe it has something to do with the active buzzer I used), show what I did, explore some ideas, and finally make a song with the radio module!
I've not found any other examples of radio being picked up through a modular synth. Not fully sure how this is happening.
EDIT: Someone in my comment section suggested this may actually be an AM radio signal.
PS. Yes this is my second time posting this thread (if you saw the first one), made a mistake and had to re-render my whole video!
robertlanger yes you should! I feel I’ve only scratched the surface with this module. As martynaudio said, it can provide some really interesting textures and sound to a patch when used in just the right amounts!
Well...YEAH! But then, the question becomes WHICH radio. A few ideas come to mind...
Tunable baseband shortwave: this is not unlike Evaton's RF Nomad. However, this design has the flaw of being tunable over relatively short frequency ranges, so it's necessary to add some bandswitching to move around the spectrum, which necessitates more complexity, controls, etc. Sonically excellent, though.
VLF broadband with tunable passband window: in this case, the model is the glorious Rohde & Schwarz UBM...which is more famous in electronic music circles in the guise of a resonant bandpass filter, as used by Stockhausen et al. But HOW the UBM works is interesting, as it pulls in a broadband electronic signal across a range of 40 Hz - 600 kHz, then filters out everything BUT the selected passband. This is not only usable as a VLF thru lower MW receiver, but it makes for an AWESOME filter as well! Its drawback lies in whether or not this could be adapted for solid-state electronics easily.
CVable FM receiver: this is what you see with the Buchla 272e, save that it's that times 3. Drawback here lies in whether or not you get into randomly dropping your local lite-rock station into your work.
...and none of this is necessarily cost-effective. But what IS might just be this:
RTL dongle under CV. These little thumb-drive-sized modules are all over the place for dirt-cheap prices, and are the core of SDR receiving systems. Yes, you would need a computer (or anything that has USB OTG connectivity) running an SDR program, which you can find for free online, and you'd have to connect to the module via USB for this. But these should also be easy to adapt for the AE system. Typical frequency ranges for the most basic RTL dongles start at 30 MHz and run well into the GHz microwave range, which provides everything from utility services to FM and TV broadcasting to data transmissions, scrambled police, etc signals, aviation, etc. And on and on. Now, the big question is how to CV this device, but given the data connectivity I would think it's far from impossible. All the data you need can be found at www.rtl-sdr.com/
Oh...and slowscape...yep, it's the buzzer. These little piezo elements contain a crystal, and if you hook some of these up in just the right way, they can be made to work like an old-timey crystal set. Not every one works this way, though.
Two interesting anecdotes about me vs inadvertant radio signals...
1) One evening, I was working in the old Haynes House studio at MTSU. I'd hooked up some mics, one of which was a Shure SM81, then went back into the control room to start bringing up levels and checking lines prior to the session players coming in. At this point, I and Jim Irwin were the only people in the studio...but both of us were hearing what sounded like a piano. Sure, said piano was VERY quiet...but you could still hear it. Now, given that I don't believe in things like haunted recording studios, I presumed that this had to be some sort of fault, so I started running the gain up on the various microphone inputs. And when I got to the SM81, yep..."pling, pling, pa-pling...'Radio Canada International'...pling, pling pa-pling..." Uh...huh. The SM81 was demodulating a shortwave transmission from Radio Canada, and what I was hearing was their interval signal. Swapped the mic, signal disappeared. Now, it's not like the transmitter was a couple of blocks away; I was in Tennessee, and RCI's transmitter complex was in New Brunswick. So I never used that mic again, and I have a standing policy of NO SHURE CONDENSER MICS in my studio to this day. If I want shortwave, I have real receivers for it. Which leads to...
2) I was working on a techno track, and wanted a layer of noise that I could fade in and out, something like a more brutalistic version of the noise layers on Basic Channel releases like Cyrus' "Inversion/Presence" 12". So I switched on my Hewlett-Packard 312A (a "selective voltmeter", more or less a laboratory-grade receiver) and started tuning around. I already had the sequencer loop running and built up during this, and was a bit confused when, suddenly, I was hearing the chords of the piece coming back in, slathered with noise and crud. Odd...so I started bringing faders up to figure out where this was being transmitted from. Turns out, it was my PPG Wave 2.3. Apparently, I was tuning into some microprocessor signal that generated the basic audio signal, and thanks to the unified ground and some other unfathomable EE voodoo, this was getting into the receiver's front end. And HELL YES I used this in the track...it sounded neat!
Should the sun rise in the morning, should the birds fly in the sky, should you have a can of ale down by the river, should you have cream in your coffee, should us old men ponder our youth and all the girls we used to know, the answer to all these questions and many more is YES! YES! YES!