Flying Head Tape Machine

I made this video to demonstrate the tape-scratch noise machine I made out of an old portable cassette player. I removed the motor and most of the tape drive mechanism, and the playback head. I attached some coax to the tape head, and reattached the other end of cable to the stub of the original cable I cut to remove the head in the first place. Then I made scratch boards.


At first I just wrapped a board with cassette tape, and that worked OK, but I thought a layer of felt between the board and the tape might help the head make better contact with the tape. I found some adhesive backed felt at a thrift store, and made a few new scratch boards from a scrap of foam-core I had lying around. I wrapped each board with a continuous strip of tape from a single cassette, and I chose recordings of three different bands to butcher for the project. So now I have and Ozric Tenticles scratch board, a Hawkwind scratchboard and a Grateful Dead scratchboard, along with the original Pink Floyd scratchboard. See if you can guess which one I used for this video.

After laying down that track, I composed this noise-scape around it, using the, still functional, AM/FM radio on this device. First, I routed the output from the headphone jack to the filter of my Geosafari Synthesizer, so I could shape the signal in real time, and recorded a track while I manually scanned the FM band using the thumbwheel tuner. Then I switched to AM mode and found that it picked up radio interference from all of the other equipment I was using. So, I recorded two more tracks where I waved the device around in the proximity of the other equipment, and recorded the interference. You can hear an oscillator and the digital recorder on one track, and then I turned on the sequencer and recorded the radio interference it caused as a rhythm track.


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