“Let them have a play” is the alarming don’t-you-get-your-marmite-covered-fingers-anyway-near-my-rack concept from Divkid (Ben Wilson). Are you sure? Well, yes he is. He recently ran a showcase in the Science Tent at the Deer Shed Festival in North Yorkshire along with Mylar Melodies. Deer Shed is a family-orientated festival with a diverse program of events suitable for all ages. Ben embraced the idea and let the little ones scamper all over his modular.
Eurorack for kids
The Science Tent was set up with all sorts of kid inspiring stuff – making slime, soldering, a bit of chemistry that they could do for real rather than watching on YouTube. For the event Ben put together a box of stuff that could be easily patched and gave the maximum amount of sonic return for your trouble. It had beats, melodies, bass and effects but the trick was this little fader box controller called the 16N open source controller. This routes 16 colourful faders out to whatever CV inputs you would like to control. The kids could then mess with the controller and get some instant reaction to the changes they made. So you didn’t have to cope with fudgy kids fingers all over your actual modules – genius.
So what’s in the box?
First of all Grids from Mutable Instruments to make for some easy drum pattern making that was patched to the first 3 faders on the 16N. For the drum sounds he’s using the not-quite-released Black_Noir from Endophine which is a bit of a scoop. All of that was going into a Sputnik 6 channel mixer with very handy mute switches. The main VCO was Plaits which gives a great range of sounds sequenced by the TINRS Tuesday. Sound selection and other parameters mapped to the controller. There was a couple of TipTop One sample players for cool/silly noises. The TipTop Z-DSP was probably a bit of overkill as an effects box but who doesn’t like a good soak of reverb? He had the SampleSlicer in there for some instance old-school sampling with the little mic expander so kids could sample their voices straight into the machine. Hidden in there was a 2HP Freeze to do some bit crushing and sonic messing.
Watching the video it’s immediately clear how fun and engaging this little rig is. Eurorack can often be seen as bit worthy and beard pulling, complex and all to do with engineering when it can be (and probably should be) a barrel of musical enjoyment.
It looks like a great way to introduce kids and adults to the wonders of Eurorack. I wonder if he put a sticker with a price on the side to frighten parents. Modular lends itself to this quite uniquely I think. There’s already a culture of Modular Meets in pubs and public spaces, and letting people have a go is something very cool about this community. Got to love the 16N controller though – that would put your anxious this-is-my-life-savings focused mind at ease.
Check out the video below for the full story.