the wulf.

04.24.2017 8:00 p.m.

Dead Lion and Toshi Ichiyanagi's "Music for Electric Metronome"

the wulf. @ Coaxial Arts

Daniel Fishkin's Dead Lion
Daniel Fishkin, photodiodes, oscilloscopes, voice

Toshi Ichiyanagi's "Music for Electric Metronome," performed by Andrew Young, Stephanie Smith, Mark So, and Liam Mooney

Daniel Fishkin’s ears are ringing. Composer, sound artist, and instrument builder. Completely ambivalent about music. Daniel studied with composer Maryanne Amacher and with multi-instrumentalist Mark Stewart. He has performed as a soloist on modular synthesizer with the American Symphony Orchestra, developed sound installations in abandoned concert halls, and played innumerable basement punk shows. Daniel’s lifework investigating the aesthetics of hearing damage has received international press (Nature Journal, 2014); as an ally in the search for a cure, he has been awarded the title of  “tinnitus ambassador” by the Deutsche Tinnitus-Stiftung. Recent activities include a Project Grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Daniel received his MA in Music Composition from Wesleyan University, has taught analog synthesis at Bard College, and, as fate would have it, is now pursuing his PhD at University of California, San Diego.


i can't handle your twisted party bullshit
How could I make a “modular” system of my own? One day at my workbench, I realized that the green CRT bream of of my oscilloscope is a very stable sawtooth waveform. I used my photodiode pickups to listen to this signal. I could change the pitch in intervals by varying the Timebase or “Sec/Div” knob. Through rampant misuse of the calibration knob, I could achieve a smooth glissandi. I controlled volume by moving the photodiode away from the beam. Thus I could achieve the classical “theremin” control of an electronic instrument: one hand for pitch, one hand for dynamics.
I built an entire synthesizer system out of four oscilloscopes and a mixer. By sending the same signal into both mixer & oscilloscope, a feedback path is made entirely in the domain of light, between the screen of the CRT and the photodiode microphone. The oscilloscope shows its own sound, and as I manipulate it, I learn from its visual language in order to predict its music. Initially I considering modifying the oscilloscope for voltage control, in order to interface with modular synthesizers, but I realized that the scopes contain so many esoteric inputs and outputs, all of which can be exploited for sound. Each oscilloscope seems to behave uniquely, and thus a mixing of scopes forms a lively ensemble.

external trigger
Look closely at the instrument panel of a Tektronix 2235 oscilloscope. To the left, an illuminated 3” monitor, lit by a green pixel. To the right, two large knobs control the vertical deflection of that line—the vertical amplifiers. These amplifiers are connected to two inputs. Another large knob, sec/div, controls how fast the pixel travels across the screen. Inside the oscilloscope, a trigger circuit aligns the scan rate to the input frequency of the signal present at the vertical amplifier. This circuit is actually essential to display a stable signal that does not wander horizontally on the screen. Modern scopes have an “automatic” setting, to more reliably trigger with regards to the input signal. However, if desired, one can opt to use an “external trigger”, accessible by an BNC jack with variable coupling options.

gimme gimme gimmen (G. Ginn)
I theorize this project as a band, but it is "dead"—I do not do songs, and thus each performance is a zombie improvisation with no central Urtext. In the recent political situation, I've been searching for text. This performance uses the song text, Gimme Gimme Gimme by Black Flag. I stripped the song of everything but words, and spoke them with my oscilloscopes as accompaniment. I say to the audience, "Imagine that not I am the singer, but rather, the current president of our country."

Candle Piece
I was inspired by Nic Collins’ circuit sculpture In Memoriam, but I thought he picked the wrong candle. I wanted a faster-burning candle, and a piece that was more like pop music in development and flow. I designed my own circuit which is tuned to react to the flame of a 5-minute candle. In darkness, it is silent. When the candle is lit, the circuit plays music which changes as the candle burns.

your lights are going out
have you ever heard a dead lion roar?

the wulf.'s electronic music series was supported by New Music USA. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit our project page: