Category: Music


EQ-1. Buttons on the left define the octave. Buttons on the right define note. Pot defines waveform.

EQ-1. Buttons on the left define the octave. Buttons on the right define note. Pot defines waveform.

This is a simple synthesizer designed to somewhat replicate the user interface of electric tambura (or trumpet) of legendary Finnish synthesizer Sähkökvartetti (Electric Quartet). During past few years I have had a priviledge to play and perform with this custom synth that was built and designed by Erkki Kurenniemi for Finnish folk artist M. A. Numminen. As there is only one instrument in existence, I decided to built my own pocket version of one of the many controller units Sähkökvartetti consists of. On the video below you can see the original synth being used by the band sharing the name of the synth, Sähkökvartetti.

The operation of this instrument is slightly modified from original. I have mixed the operation logic of another Kurenniemi synth, DICO in it. Similarly than on Sähkökvartetti, all parameters are digitally encoded on both synths, but the actual coding differs a bit, making DICO more suitable for tonic output. The buttons on the left are used for select the note. Each button will transpose note to a certain interval up/down. On Sähkökvartetti, these intervals would be minor and major second, major third and minor sixth. With these intervals by counting numbers from 0 upwards will give you a chromatic scale. While this is totally logical, musically it makes hard to play melodies. In DICO different intervals are selected. These are minor third, fourth, fifth and a tritonus. Musically these intervals make much more sense although playing scales would again be a bit of a struggle.

Two buttons on the left are used similarly as in DICO to select the octave to be used. On original Sähkökvartetti they would have been used for turning filters on and off.

This synth is built around ATMega168 chip, running 8Mhz without external crystal. The code is modified and cleaned version of nebulophone. That explains the potentiometer on the center (not absent in Sähkökvartetti) that is being used to select waveform (square, saw, triangle, noise) similarly than the waveform pot on nebulophone.

Sopeutujat is an episode of short animation series Luonnonlaki. I prepared a soundtrack for it. Everything else was done by animator/director Reetta Neittaanmäki. Animation premiered on YLE (Finnish national broadcasting company) in 2008.