We’ve Been Busy

It’s been a long time. Of all the things that have happened since the last post in 2015, maintaining the blog was simply a lower priority than everything else. I’m kinda trying to getting back to writing again, so here goes…

Barkhausen Effects Is Dead

It almost goes without saying that the idea of designing and building guitar or modular synthesizer effects has been abandoned. I’d set up shop, bought a cool old Iwatsu oscilloscope and began designing what might have been a very useful Eurorack module, but upon following Scott Monk’s blog (who produces the amazing Count to Five guitar pedal), I realised that while design can be fun, a life of actually building hundreds of small electronic devices was not so intriguing after all. But I learned a lot and had some fun experimenting. Time to move on…

Long Live Barkhausen

Since then, Barkhausen (the band) has posted over 130 tracks onto our SoundCloud page, released our first album/CD The Length of Heaven, and just finished producing and mastering our second (called Johakyu, to be released as soon as I’m able to get the CDs pressed).

Here’s a link to a track from The Length of Heaven on SoundCloud:

which is also available as a digital download and/or CD order from our BandCamp page.

Both albums were mastered by Denis Blackham of Skye Mastering, who’s had quite a career, with over 4500 albums from artists including Brian Eno & David Byrne, Cocteau Twins, Fennesz, Antony & the Johnsons, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Black Sabbath, etc. He’s also been a real pleasure to work with.


In 2016 and again in 2017 I enjoyed playing with Kaetsu Takahashi in Tokyo (to be correct, just north of Tokyo, near Miyahara Station in Saitama) and a group of musicians in Munich: Anatol Locker, Ralph Fischer and Wolfgang Schmetterer.

Here’s our second gig from 2017:

The first Munich jam from 2016 is captured below:

with the second in 2017:

I can’t afford to travel every year like that, but do hope to play with them all again sometime in the future. It’s been a really great experience.


Guitar Notes in Scale Tool

Without further ado I present the Barkhausen Effects – Guitar Notes in Scale tool. It supports all of the common Western music modes (Ionian, Dorian, etc.) as well as pentatonic and blues scales, plus some less common scales such as the Algerian, Roumanian Minor, and my favourite (name-wise, anyway) the Enigmatic.

Barkhausen Effects – Guitar Notes in Scale

From the top left menus you select the Key and the desired Scale, and the fretboard will display the scale. You can also highlight a specific Interval of the root note, or simply highlight a specific Note (if the specified note is not in the currently displayed scale nothing will happen). The All and Reset buttons are hopefully self-explanatory.

Earth: a visualization of global weather conditions

This came about while experimenting with a JavaScript library called D3 that supports animating a Scaleable Vector Graphics (SVG) image I thought I’d try to use it to create a tool that can graphically display the notes of any scale on the guitar fretboard. Being SVG you can zoom as small or large as you like without losing quality. D3 is the software library used to create Cameron Beccario’s rather beautiful rendering of the current earth’s weather, simply called Earth. Until I got involved with weather data I didn’t know that circling Antarctica are a ring of massive cyclones called the Polar Vortex. If you look at the bottom of the Earth you can see them — ever changing shapes and sizes but always there, spinning away.

I hope you find the Guitar Notes in Scale tool helpful. If there’s a scale missing that you’d like to see included, drop me a line at barkhausen [at] barkhausen.nz.


The Source of All Power

This is a post about building a 9 volt power supply, not about the sun nor the thousand names of God, nor the Motorhead song by that title.

A few months ago on a lark I built one of the Klon clone kits (a distortion pedal for those who either don’t play electric guitar or live in a cave), a Grind Customs Chimaera, since it wasn’t expensive and I thought it’d be interesting to see what one sounded like. I thought I’d done a great job wiring it up — all very careful and clean — and when I finally fired it up I was a bit surprised: it sounded horrible. More… The Source of All Power


Improvised, abstract music.