Product: Toy: Adult
Clockwork/Analogue Music Box   (+1)  [vote for, against]
A novelty hybrid for synth-geeks

In a conventional music box, a rotating cylinder plucks a series of small metal bars at pre-determined intervals to produce a tune. A tune which seamlessly repeats itself with every revolution of the cylinder.

Using a suitable interface, the cylinder could instead send a series of values to two or three small analogue synthesisers contained within the box. Each one would be a single-oscillator affair, with basic controls on the front panel for cutoff, resonance and envelope modifications. Other controls could include a master tuning knob, level and balance of each synth.

Each box’s cylinder would be manufactured to play a looping portion from a well-known synth-pop tune. Even a drum pattern could be reproduced by a row of 4 extra notches firing off/triggering vintage Roland-style drum sounds. The electricity needed to power the synthesizers and speaker could be derived from a generator attached to the clockwork mechanism, although this may be a bit idealistic. All of this is packaged in a lovingly crafted and finished casing reminiscent of a 70’s drum machine, possibly with authentic “distressed” finish.

So there you have it. You wind the box up, it tootles out synth-pop through its warm, bassy internal speaker, all mechanically sequenced and running on clockwork. Models available include “Doctor Who Theme”, “The Model”, “Blue Monday” etc. The list goes on. There would be the option to turn the cylinder manually or run it in reverse. There would, of course, be an audio out and MIDI in/out.
-- DRstrathmore, Oct 10 2003

Analogue synthesis (sort of) explained
[DRstrathmore, Oct 04 2004]

After a week of reading UB's stories, 'Roland-style' has taken on a decidedly warped meaning for me.
-- RayfordSteele, Oct 10 2003

So, a MIDI sequencer with mechanical storage?

The need for a Sysex dump with the patches right before the song starts would necessitate a cylinder about 3 feet in diameter.
-- Cedar Park, Oct 11 2003

It's not exactly a MIDI sequencer with mechanical storage. All you'd need on the cylinder is the raw information to play the synths, which would just be pitch. The "suitable interface" could deal with the Sysex dump.
-- DRstrathmore, Oct 11 2003

random, halfbakery