Material Sequencer – Physical materiality of sound

Created by Mo H. Zareei, ‘Material Sequencer‘ is an 8-step electromechanical sequencer, designed to emphasise the physical materiality of sound and sound production. The simple usb-powered sound-sculpture re-investigates one of the most elemental tools of electronic music production, an 8-step rhythmic sequence, by taking the sequencing process outside the black box and into the acoustic realm, flaunting its materiality and physicality.

The device and the interface components are comprised of a custom-designed circuit board that is fully exposed, and the sound-generating mechanism is reduced to solenoid percussion. Different rhythmic patterns can be entered using a small 8-position dip switch and an on-board dial can be used to change the tempo. using a microcontroller, the patterns are converted into a series of electrical impulses that are then used to actuate the solenoid, which in turn strikes a block of solid matter, making audible clicks.

A custom-designed circuit board receives the input from the “user” (through a standard onboard DIP switch with 8 positions and onboard dial), to a Teensy 3.2 board. The Teensy has been programmed (in Teensyduino environment) to take the states of the 8 switches, and interpret them as a sequence of on/off states (i.e. an 8-step rhythmic pattern). The dial determines how fast the teensy reads through, and repeats the pattern. The Teensy is connected to a MOSFET which takes the input sequence, and based on the status of each steps, drives a small 12v push-type solenoid. The solenoid is mounted on the circuit board and once it strikes, it makes an audible contact with a block of solid matter that is housed in a cutting into the circuit board’s surface area. The circuit board itself sits on a laser-cut panel with 4 rubber feet to absorb the vibrations. The entire mechanism is powered via USB connection (a 5V to 12V converter is used to power up the solenoid).

The project stems from an expanding body of work that is connected through the thread of sound-based brutalism: a reductionist celebration of unadorned raw material through rigorous functionalism. See previously on CAN

Project Page | Mo H. Zareei