How To Control Your Synthesizer With A Blowtorch

Like a synth with lots of knobs?

Here’s something different – a demonstration of flame-controlled synthesis.

Nyle Steiner demonstrates how to control a low-pass filter using a blowtorch:

This lowpass filter is just like a normal synthesizer lowpass VCF but the cutoff frequency is controlled by the variable resistance of copper oxide when heated by a flame

I built the filter this way just to see how good it would sound when controlled with a flame and copper oxide resistors. The copper oxide resistors are just pieces of ordinary copper wire that had been previously oxidized in a propane flame.

The resonance is difficult to control precisely because of unequal heating and cooling of the two oxidized copper wires.

Another way of doing the same thing would be to just use one flame controlled copper oxide resistance to vary a dc voltage into the VC input of a normal VCF.

We were trying to think of a practical use for this approach….and gave up.

But, using this live to control the cutoff frequency on bassline sequences would look pretty wicked!

3 thoughts on “How To Control Your Synthesizer With A Blowtorch

  1. Sorry but.. Interesting idea but when I saw a lot of text I fast forwarded and when I saw a lighter I quit.

    No disrespect (I am aware its going to sound as much) but next time do we get to see the torch above instead of below the table? To get some visual effects too? 😉

    Seriously; I like the tweak but it wasn't as spectacular as I hoped.

  2. The really awesome part will be when some Beavis and Butthead copy cat decides to have a go and burns down his entire studio.

  3. It works with an iPhone / iPad and a blowtorch too – try it, kids!

    [Disclaimer: I accept no responsibility for anyone following my advice.]

Leave a Reply