Building Things

Vietnam Day 3 Field recording with Richard Eigner and Workshop with Vietnamese Musicians

Richard Eigner getting into the many sounds at a busy intersection in Hanoi

I’m starting to get into the swing of things, body clock is still very confused but the vibe of the city is such that it carries you along on it’s noisy, smoky, hyper-alive wake.  I spent several hours walking around recording and taking photographs with Richard today. And when stepping off the street and into the calm of my hotel I keep noticing that my body is actually vibrating such is the excitement of the city.



Afterwards I headed to the Goethe Institut to give a workshop on my Light controlled music hard/software which was really good fun especially when the audience started getting involved with playing the interface. I learned a lot.

Why don’t DAWs let you do this?

I was teaching recently and one of my students had a patch with lots of effects in it. They were all routed to a central matrix~ object. It was really powerful but let down by the fact that controlling the matrix~ can be quite confusing esp when performing live. Personally I don’t like having to think in rows and columns when I just want to put the delay after the gate instead of before it.

This is the solution I came up with in Max/MSP, Have a look at Mr Matrix in action…

Lots of fun, I really wish I could do this in Logic Pro!

Download the patch

If you don’t have Max/MSP you can still play with Mr Matrix by installing Max/MSP runtime. Just make sure you put the Mr Matrix folder within the runtime patches folder!

Creative Commons Licence
Mr Matrix by Leafcutter John is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

New free software coming soon…..

Thursday, February 28th, 2013 | Building Things, Electronics, Max/MSP, Software News | 1 Comment

Follow me on Twitter &/or Join Mailing List to find out when it’s released.

Sunday Synth Freakout.

Sunday, February 17th, 2013 | Building Things, Electronics, Music!, video | No Comments

CMOS Synth I’m in the process of designing and building at the moment.

J x.

Quadcopter Makes Disjointed Noise Improv

Saturday, February 16th, 2013 | Building Things, Electronics, Live Shows, Music!, video | No Comments

All the sounds you hear are being triggered and modulated by a downward facing LED which I rigged onto a little quadcopter. The light is picked up by the LDR’s from my light controlled music system which uses and an Arduino to send control data to Max/MSP where the sound is produced… I need to improve my flying skills if this is to go any further!

If you want to know more about the light controlled music system I’m doing a talk and concert at Brunel uni on Feb 27th and a talk an workshop at University of Wales Newport, City Campus on March 14th.

J x.


My Home Made guitar plays: Disorder by Palace music (Will Oldham).

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 | Building Things, Music!, video | No Comments

Dusted off the guitar I made in 2007 and decided to have a go one of my favourite Palace tunes. Disorder comes from the 1996 album ‘Arise Therefore’ Which is a beautiful melancholic and sparse record with some of Will’s best lyrics of all time.


late 50's STC 3045 dynamic

I recorded the music with two very old mic’s that I’ve been getting into lately. The voice uses an old BBC STC 4035 from the 1950’s and the guitar a 1970’s AKG lapel mic which is labelled BBC Radio Paris.

I think this is an AKG made sometime in the 70's

I just saw the same mic hanging around Dudley Moore’s neck during his duet with Cilla Black –

About this guitar:

J x.

A little video of the new light to sound hardware. Live at PowerLunches Dec 2012

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 | Building Things, Live Shows, Music!, video | No Comments

Thanks to Blanca for the video.

Leafcutter John concert using new DIY light interface at Cafe Oto Tomorrow.

Wednesday 4th April 2012: Door Times : 8pm Tickets : £5 adv / £7 on the door

The BEAM Festival presents BEAM NIGHT, a special one-off taster event held at café OTO. BEAM is a playground of homemade instruments and sonic installations and was devised by Artistic Director Sarah Nicolls to explore the physicality of electronic music.  The focus on electronic music being created LIVE is explored through a programme of performances, demonstrations, installations and workshops.

The acts tonight all use unusual and/or homemade interfaces to perform. Atau Tanaka & Adam Parkinson play iPhones as sensitive, handheld controllers; Bruno Zamborlin performs café OTO’s wall – possibly for the first time?! – with his invention, Mogees, which read gestural language on any surface; Marco Donnarumma’s Music for Flesh is a visceral sensor performance using his instrument system Xth sense, which has just been named “the world’s most innovative new musical instrument” and awarded First Prize at the Guthman Musical Instrument Competiton in Atlanta ( Tom Bugs (maker of Bugbrand synth products) appears in a rare performance using his Modular synths and also sets up a mini-installation for the night, whilst the beguilingly creative Leafcutter John conjures up soundscapes with his new explorations in light and sound.

More information, videos & sounds on the BEAM NIGHT website

Some more light controlled music….

An attempt to play something a bit more musical on the light controlled audio system I’m currently working on.

Work in progress for Sundays show at the Royal Festival Hall

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 | Building Things, Electronics, video | No Comments

Something I’m working on at the moment. It’s early days but I think it could turn into something really nice. Light falling on 4 sensors controls all the sound in this clip. Lights controlled by an Arduino which also sends the light sensor data back to Max/MSP which deals with the audio generation. Camera not so great as it was dark and I was filming and playing at the same time.

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