leafcutter john

Weekly Music Thing No. 2 : Inductive Pickup

This week I’ll show you how to make a pick up that will let you eavesdrop on the internal sound-world of electronic devices.

The inductive pickup is simply a coil of wire, really that’s all there is to it. Connect that to an amplifier and begin probing your: Laptop, mobile phone, local transport network (London underground tube trains sound amazing!)

As last week, a video follows….


NEXT WEEK: either ‘How to make really good contact mics’ or ‘Messing about with CMOS chips to make a horrid noise” or something altogether different, you decide!

Other Weekly Music Things

Weekly Music Thing No. 1 : Laser Microphone

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Weekly Music Thing No. 1 : Laser Microphone

Here is the first ‘Weekly Music Thing’! In the video I take a look at how a cheap laser pointer and a solar cell can be turned into a remarkable optical microphone. I say microphone, but I think that might not actually be the correct description as a microphone converts sound into electricity where as  the laser mic turns light into electricity via the solar cell. It’s more of a Phosophone! Watch the following video for what you’ll need to build it, and I show a few ways it can be used too. I particularly like the fact that you can create sound bouncing the laser off a vibrating or moving surface. Used like this patterns of light and dark create audible tones. It’s supremely simple, fun and cheap which makes it a winner in my book. Have fun and don’t point the laser in your (or anybody’s) eye holes!

Let me know if you find this at all interesting and I’ll do some more….

Some sound highlights from the video

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Announcing my intention to do a Weekly DIY Music Thing…

Err yep, I’m going to post a new project that you can make at home, every week starting now. My last post about making Piezoelectric crystals at home seemed to be something of a hit getting featured both on hackaday.com and CreateDigitalMusic.com so I thought I’d give you more of what you like while building a sample library for my own compositions.

I thought of covering:

  • Contact microphones – construction and creative usage
  • Simple electronic music circuits – warm up your cmos chips
  • Prepared instruments
  • Max/MSP usage – Maybe some generative stuff?
  • Arduino
  • DIY music controllers
  • Studio techniques

If you have any ideas please comment here and I’ll try and cover them. Keep your ideas simple and doable in a 5 min video!

Next time you see the soldering iron logo there will be a tutorial under it.

Take care,


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Memotone & me on BBC radio 1

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 | Music!, Radio | No Comments

Listen to new collaboration, Me & Memotone on the Gilles Peterson BBC radio 1 show: Our track starts around 01:26:00 LISTEN

This is a track that Memotone made out of a load of sounds I sent him. I love his arrangement and the kitchen sink percussion he added! Check out his SITE

It’s only up for a week so be quick kids.


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Listen to new Leafcutter John remix of Origamibiro

Friday, May 13th, 2011 | field recording, Music!, remix | No Comments

Sometimes making music is so much fun you wonder why anyone would ever do anything else! I was asked to remix Origamibiro’s ‘Quad Time & The Genius of The Crowd’ and had a ball giving it a thorough Leafcutterising. I really enjoyed working on the Origamibiro material and was extra specially exited to use my field recording of an eccentric man commenting on the look of my microphone’s wind protector.

I used lot’s of outdoor field recordings to try and give this a summery feel, I think it worked?! If you have an opinion the track leave a comment on soundcloud or here, it’s all ways interesting to hear what you think.

LJ x.

p.s. Check out www.abandonbuilding.com who will be releasing the a remix compilation album. Also this is a live version of the same track.

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Boxing Day Java Script in Max/MSP

Monday, December 27th, 2010 | Building Things, Max/MSP, Software News, video, video tutorial | 3 Comments

Hope you are having a good Crimbo. I’ve been thinking about making some video tutorials covering Generative and Algorithmic music in Max/MSP. Have been sidetracked somewhat by learning Javascript within the JS Max object, which as it happens is very useful for Generative music making. So far I have made a patch which essentially documents me learning JS. I’ll be making this available soon with an accompanying video. Then I’ll be moving on to a comprehensive Algorithmic Music Tutorial.



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Generative/Algorithmic max/msp patch programming….. Starting to yield results

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 | Building Things, Max/MSP, Music! | 8 Comments

rahehA little output from a software patch i’m working on to make music out of user input. The input in this case is any number. All the patterns are generated from this number, there is no randomness used in the software, so if you enter the number twice you get the same output. These examples also use one source sample which i was changing throughout. Still lot’s I want to do with this, the melodic parts could do with a lot of work for example…

I’m wondering if I should make this into Forester 2? And if there is any interest I could do a generative music video tutorial of some sort… hummm…

J x.

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Tunis album out now.

tunis detail

I’m really happy to say I have a few copies of the new album and it’s looking and sounding lovely – I all ways wanted a CD case that wasn’t made out of plastic!

Have a listen to the opening track ‘A slowly growing beautiful’ while you read the rest of this article:

This is a semi-live album recorded in a Cathedral in Tunis, using only sounds recorded in and around Tunis. The concert was recorded and I worked with this material back in london to make the material for the album. Some of the tracks are totally live and others use live elements with added sounds and instruments.

I think you can purchase the album and listen to all of it HERE thanks in advance from me and the label if you choose to buy it.

Take care,

Leafcutter John x.

tunis all

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Final Cafe Oto concert of 2010, 21st December

Thursday, December 9th, 2010 | Live Shows | 2 Comments


LONDON: Cafe Oto
TUE 21ST DEC, 2010 8PM

Tickets : £4 adv / £5 door

Join The London Snorkelling TeamLeafcutter JohnThe Academy QuintetSimon Bookishand legendary music hall star Miss Dora Prawnshoe for an evening of unlistenable trivia made palatable by the extra special Oto Punch and mince pies.

One staggering night of carefully crafted entertainment for a mere five British pounds (sterling). Bring your friends. It’s all for a good cause – Café Oto!


J xx.x.x.x.x.x.x.

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Tunis album artwork printed

It’s real! IMG_0160

More soon,

Leafcutter John x.

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