the|squarewave|parade: safeplace – minm
September 5, 2008
The basic idea is that of a shaker, much like any other shaker; it’s a metal box with some BBs and marbles inside, that produces a percussive sound when you, that’s right, shake it. What sets it apart from other shakers is that inside the metal case with the BBs and marbles is a piezo element that picks up the vibrations from the BBs and marbles striking the case. Piezo elements work much like microphones except that they pick up actual physical vibrations vs. displaced air caused by sound waves as microphones do (very basic and possible incomplete understanding alert!). The piezo element is connected to a 1/4 in. jack so that the sounds can be run through any number of devices. The sound of the minm is a bit more abrasive than a conventional acoustic shaker. Steven mentions on his website that they were not meant to take the place of an acoustic shaker and that they are more for the noise enthusiast. Which is where things really get fun. I have run the safeplace – minm through a number of effects pedals and did a little bit of tweaking in Logic and produced some really nice, interesting textures. The piezo element is mounted near the top of the case and will also pick up vibrations from outside of the case. Rubbing, scratching, striking, etc. all get picked up in different ways. Scratching right over the piezo element and further away produce different results! I’ve found the safeplace – minm to be an even more versatile instrument than I expected and great for creating some nice lo-fi textures.
You can listen to some of the textural experiments below. I recorded a couple tracks of the safeplace for use in a piece that I’m currently taking way to long to finish. Keep in mind the audio isn’t straight safeplace…I ran it through some effects and did some tweaking. I just wanted to give you an idea of what kind of results this thing can produce with some experimentation…everybody already knows what a shaker sounds like anyway, right?