Provide a brief introduction to littleBits and show a demo on how the different color-coded, modular electronics function.
Lecture Overview and Introductory Synth Circuits
Using the attached presentation, the workshop lead provides a background on vocal synthesis and how we can use electronics to mimic pitch, timing and formant control signals to produce vowels and consonants. It's helpful to demonstrate the different sounds using your mouth and vocal cords.
Build the Synth Circuits
Participants can begin experimenting with the basic circuits required to build the vocal synthesizer. See pages 11 to 14 for detailed information on how to construct and modify the circuits.
- % is controlled by turning the knobs on the modules clockwise; this is based on values 0 to 100.
- The three filters in the vocal synth must be tuned to the same note. You can do this by ear, as described on page 11, or by using a guitar tuner or equivalent. The exact pitch is not important, as long as all the filters are tuned to the same pitch, and that pitch is generally close based on the knob positions described.
- As you build each section of the synth and be sure to tune and test it (instructor can provide guidance).
Create the Vocal Synthesizer
Once you have completed the previous steps, your group is ready to create the vocal synthesizer. Refer to pages 15-16 for an explanation on how to construct and tune the instrument. Pages 17-21 describe how to produce different words, including 'cookie', 'barbecue', 'autobahn' and 'robot'.
- Practice makes perfect! Small variations in your setup and controls can effect the sound.
- The number modules show the filter read outs (we use % for our notation, but be sure to have the module on the 'value' setting).
- Refer to page 22 for control references for producing different vowel and consonant sounds.
- If you are looking to produce male or female sounding 'voices', you'll need to tweak your controls a bit differently.
Extension: Adding Arduino
For an additional challenge, refer to pages 24-26 for ways to incorporate the Arduino at Heart Module into your synthesizer to improve the functionality.