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Music Thing: The Chiclet DSP Music Box

Peter Rojas
Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out these days. Last Saturday it was Jazz Mutant's Lemur, this week it's the Chiclet DSP Music Box:

Next week is DIY week on Music Thing, so I'm looking at home-grown music kit. The Chiclet is a pocket-sized digital music-making box. The MIT-connected team behind call themselves the DSP Music Syndicate, and their aim is to: "offer an inexpensive delivery mechanism for intricate algorithmic and generative music which is the size of a pack of smokes and powered off batteries". What they've designed and built is portable music playback device, a bit like an iPod. Except it won't play back pre-recorded music. Instead it will contain songs in the form of programs which can change every time they're played. One idea is to create a real-time life remixer, which takes input from a microphone, and plays it back in 'some mangled form'. So, you're walking down the street with your headphones on. The box is taking in the noises of cars going past and people talking, and it's spitting some kind of remixed interpretation of the sounds into your ears.

As a DIY project, it's pretty involved. Ethan Bordeaux, part of the team, told me: "Currently we build our hardware with a soldering iron and magnifying glass, but it is extremely touchy work. I personally could never do it, only one guy has hands steady enough to pull it off (the legs on some of the ICs are very very small, and spreading solder across 2 pins will kill a chip)." It's slightly baffling for anyone who doesn't go to MIT, but the box really exists, and it really makes music, which you can listen to here. Coming to a record shop near you soon. maybe.

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