Soundworld Experiments

Steampunk Buddha Machine


With my sound designer hat on I'm fascinated by all aspects of sounds and design, and recently bought one of the inexpensive Buddha Machine II boxes designed by the Beijing-based music duo of Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian.



This plays your choice of nine audio loops, each averaging about 30 seconds long, and repeated listening to these carefully chosen musical snippets can be incredibly relaxing, eventually becoming almost meditational. However, I couldn't help thinking that as supplied, its little plastic case was rather anonymous.

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So, I decided to extend both its musical possibilities and at the same time giving it a total makeover. The first step was some 'circuit-bending' (creative modification of the existing circuitry to add extra controls and sound options).

I then set about creating a new polished wood and brass enclosure for it, inspired by my current fascination with Steampunk (Victorian Science Fiction).

Although it took quite a time to source
suitable parts (from old electronic
equipment and even marine accessory
suppliers) and reinstall the electronic
circuitry with its various extra controls,
I was very pleased with the final result
You can now vary the pitch of my
Steampunk Buddha Machine over several
octaves, from low and slowly swelling
drones to frantic morse-code like tappings, as well as using it as a portable amplifier capable of heavily modifying incoming audio.