The band Draemings recently borrowed some of my christmas lights for a show here in Los Angeles. After catching the second half of the set, I came up with a cost effective light board for their keyboardist. My goal with this project is to make the lights an instrument that can be performed. In my opinion, with a rock band, pre programing lights on stage can take away from the live rock and roll feel of kids pounding away at instruments. The smash and bang of trying to get it just right. And the chaos of a strong finish.
I decided to make a board with dimmers and instance buttons so they could make lights swell with their synths and burst to the beat. I also chose to make a break out box, so there wouldn’t be a million plugs going to the device. This way, the device can sit nicely on a keyboard rack. And finally, after watching the synth player’s spin dance moves, I decided to space everything out nicely, so that he could move freely rather than pinch away at tightly knit buttons.
Here are pictures from two thirds of the build process. I’m currently waiting on the seal to dry on the break out box before it gets sanded and painted again. Also, the dimmers are in the process of being wired. As of right now, the arcade style impact switches, the master on off and the break out box are up and running. I started out with sliding dimmers, but for the price I was aiming for, there wasn’t enough action. It would have been ideal to use sliders because the keyboardist could have slid them all up at once, but nice dimmers can get expensive. The round knobs give much more control and the perception of more depth in the change. Also, midway through the build, I decided to put the arcade buttons in there. Knowing the direction that the band is going, I think instance switches will make more sense in the long run.
The overall premise is very simple, but I think making a straight forward idea more visual is where the stage show gathers its strength. I’m working on an instrument for my own set that follows the same train of thought, but the pictures won’t be up for a few weeks. For now, enjoy these. Video and performance examples to follow.