Koka Nikoladze’s Drone Box No. 1

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Oslo-based composer and artist Koka Nikoladze shared this demo of Drone Box No. 1, the latest in a series of custom music machines.

The Drone Box is MIDI-controlled, and generates sound using stepper motors. Objects can be attached, to act as acoustic resonators and modify each voice’s sound.

Nikoladze says that they made the video to inspire other synthmakers.

Here’s what they shared about the Drone Box No. 1:

“This is my Drone Box No. 1. It’s a four-voice physical synthesizer, for drones and more.

The sound is produced by turning stepper motors that sit on the wooden box. Different objects attached to the motors change the character of the sound. Selecting and attaching the objects is like physical mixing. A pinecone adds rich buzz and makes the sound more like a square wave synthesizer, an egg doesn’t do much and leaves the work to the box, a paper cup makes the sound rounder and a brass coil provides resonant overtones. I exchange objects all the time.

You can control the box with MIDI, either from a keyboard or from a computer. There is also a clever automatic voice management mode, so you can improvise without thinking which motor to turn. I’ve added pitch bending, vibrato, different kinds of tremolo and some other expressions.’

Nikoladze has plans to add additional performance features, along with a second iteration of the box with a button that will play a playlist of MIDI files from an SD card.

Check it out and share your thoughts on it in the comments!

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