Circuit Bending: Making Music By ReWiring Devices and Toys

Circuit Bending is one of the most desired and protected skills of sound designers worldwide. Learn the secrets here.
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Instructed by Jason Allen Music / Production
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  • Lectures 23
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 6/2015 English

Course Description

This is a class about the joy of Circuit Bending.

In this class we will first talk about what Circuit Bending is, and how it works. Then, we will actually circuit bend an old keyboard from beginning to end, going step-by-step through the entire process. In the end, we will have a cool new keyboard capable of brand new sounds, and I'll even make a track with it.

This might just be the weirdest class I've ever made. In this class we will hit the road, going to some thrift shops to look for bendable instruments, I'll do some time-lapse videos of taking things apart (complete with Benny Hill), and we will melt down some Spongebob Squarepants. You will have to join the class to see how that all unfolds.

And of course, once you sign up for this class, you automatically get huge discounts on many of my other classes - stay to the end to find out how!

You will not have another opportunity to learn Circuit Bending in a more comprehensive way that this. Start here.

J. Anthony Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater.

He currently as an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, Macphail Academy of Music, and the CEO of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.

Praise for other classes by J. Anthony Allen:

  • "I've had Live Lite for a while but never quite understood how to use it because of the different options in how to arrange audio. This course explains exactly how to do that and get the most out of Live."
  • "Great overview - I would start here for sure if you are just getting your feet wet with live. clear and to the point. session walkthroughs are great. looking forward to more"
  • "I have never had any formal training in music at all. Trying to learn all the notes and how everything translated was a serious challenge. After going thru this class, Dr. J has totally brought down the barriers. The content was very useful and was easy to grasp for me."
  • What are the requirements?

    • No knowledge of Circuitry or electronics is required
    • No software is required
    • A hardware unit to circuit bending will be needed to follow along, but don't go get one yet! I'll walk you through how to select something good for bending in the first few classes. These devices tend to be around $3 - $5 US

    What am I going to get from this course?

    • Modify electronic devices to add knobs and switches to create your own unique sounds
    • Create an arsenal of hardware devices unique to you - no one else in the world will have your devices
    • Create ultra-unique sounds using your circuit bent instruments!

    Who is the target audience?

    • This circuit bending course is designed for people who do not know anything about circuit bending, and have no experience with circuits or any electronics
    • This course is an excellent starting point for people look to get into the world of circuit bending
    • More advanced producers looking to expand their repertoire of sounds will also benefit from creating their own devices with this class

    What you get with this course?

    Not for you? No problem.
    30 day money back guarantee.

    Forever yours.
    Lifetime access.

    Learn on the go.
    Desktop, iOS and Android.

    Get rewarded.
    Certificate of completion.


    Section 1: Overview

    Welcome to the class! First a quick overview of the class, and then we will get started!


    What is Circuit Bending, and how can it be useful to you in your music making. In this video I'll walk you through what it is, a little of the history, and some of the cool things you can do.


    Not everything is bendable - and some things are easier than others. In this video I'll walk through what to look for and what works well.

    Section 2: Toys, Tools & Safety

    Before diving in, lets talk about some tools we are going to need. There are not many - just a few things.


    Ok - welcome to one of the weirdest videos I've ever made. In this video we go on a covert field trip to a few different second-hand stores looking for children's toys.


    The number one rule to Circuit Bending: Batteries Only! I can't say it enough.


    A few other things about safety when we are working with electricity.

    Section 3: The (lack of) Science to Circuit Bending

    Alright - now is the time to get down and dirty with this. First, we need to open up our device and see what we've got.


    A "Jumper" cable is just a simple wire that we will use to make some connections to find the right bends to make.


    Our first connections! These are just test points, but we need to find things that we like, and we will make them permanent later.


    Next we need to map our connections. This is a process that will help us to know what we are going to solder, and it will help us form a plan of attack.


    Here is my notation file for this project. Feel free to download it and use it as a template if you like.

    Section 4: Making The Connections

    There are lots of different types of switches. In this video I'll walk you though the different kinds, and the best kind for us. Also, a quick and easy place to buy them online.


    Almost time to get to the serious stuff. Before we dive in to soldering, let me show you a few quick tips.


    Time to make some permanent connections. In this video we will solder our first wires to the board.


    Next, we need to mount those switches into our device so they look nice (or as nice as possible). My technique for this is a little ugly, but it works. After we get those switches in the plastic, we will wire them up!


    Time to wire-up those switches and see how it works!


    A few questions about connecting those switches you might have are answered here in this videos.


    Now that we have created our fully-functional circuit-bent keyboard, we just need to close it up and try to get it be one solid unit again.

    Section 5: Wrap Up

    Now that we have a cool new musical keyboard, here is a little snippet of a track I made using only our Circuit-Bent Spongebob keyboard.


    Thats all folks! In this video an important piece of info as some parting words.

    Bonus Lecture: BEND - A Circuit Bending Documentary

    There is so much more to Learn!

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    Instructor Biography

    Jason Allen, Ph.D / Ableton Certified Trainer

    J. Anthony Allen has worn the hats of composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, sound designer, DJ, remix artist, multi-media artist, performer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Allen is a versatile creator whose diverse project experience ranges from works written for the Minnesota Orchestra to pieces developed for film, TV, and radio. An innovator in the field of electronic performance, Allen performs on a set of “glove” controllers, which he has designed, built, and programmed by himself. When he’s not working as a solo artist, Allen is a serial collaborator. His primary collaborative vehicle is the group Ballet Mech, for which Allen is one of three producers.

    J. Anthony Allen teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN., and is an Ableton Live Certified Trainer. He is a co-founder and owner of Slam Academy, a multimedia educational space in downtown Minneapolis. Recently, Allen founded Hackademica – an innovative net-label for new music.

    J. has a PhD in music composition, 2 Master’s degrees in music composition and electronic music, and a bachelors degree in guitar performance. Through his academic travels, Dr. Allen has received numerous awards along the way.

    If you run into him on the street, he prefers to be addressed as J. (as in, Jay.)

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