Turing Algorithm Tape Splicer

An abstract thought-experiment, the Turing machine is a proof of the computational powers of a binary tape manipulated by a state machine which reads & writes ones & zeroes while scrolling through the tape. Aside from the theoretically infinite tape length, this is a Turing machine whose program is written by 12 switches and a binary buffer (tape) which you can provide as an audio or CV signal.

In principle, you could perform calculus, but in practice, you can randomly flip switches and tape any signals. Everything can be modulated for a constantly evolving algorithm. You can even connect pitch cv to adjust the speed and create melodies, and you can use feedback to have it program itself.

As the read/write head navigates the tape according to its algorithm, an audio buffer (recorded at the audio input) is likewise navigated. The output is a range of pitch shift, delay, and glitch effects that are quite unique. The device learns stable behavior under the right settings, and in others, it constantly changes its mind, and you can’t help but feel that it is just a bit alive.

To get started, connect a sound source to the audio input (top left) and to the tape input (just below). Alternatively, the tape input could be some secondary signal of any sort – it’ll be processed into 1’s and 0’s (above and below the threshold specified by the silver THR control). Get the results from the (top right) audio output. If you flip the central switches (guesswork is fine), you’ll find a range of effects and behaviors that’ll also be very dependent on the tape input – the combination is essentially an algorithm for processing data (switches) and the data itself (the tape), so the two work in conjunction. You can stall the device out and there are no guiderails to ensure pleasant output (nothing breaks though), so just keep flipping switches until you find something good. You can flip the REC switch at the tape input to stop writing over the tape (the algorithm will still rewrite the tape on its own though, because that’s how it operates). Drop the tape length (big central knob) to taste and connect pitch cv for a little melodic control.

The 12 jacks at the bottom right allow you to modulate the switch positions, so you can have the algorithm changing in real time. If you feed the tape output into these jacks, the device is now programming itself. LFOs and sequencers are good ideas too. Sync and clock inputs take trigger pulses/gates to control tape position and advancing respectively, you can modulate the recording status of the audio and tape via the REC jacks with gate signals for freezing effects, and you can also modulate the binary threshold and tape length to affect the overall nature of processing.

In the end, it’s an untamed device that produces wild results, and yet they can be super cool and quite usable. If you like experimentation, serendipity, and chaos or perhaps a chance to tinker with a proper Turing machine, then the Turing Algorithm Tape Splicer is will provide plenty space for that journey.