“Shall we play a game?” Get your synth talking, singing, scatting, growling or just plain babbling like a drunken Swede (not my metaphor, sorry). Born from 1970s & 80s technology and pushed to the limits with modern microprocessors, the 1420 Scat-Talker is a LIMITED EDITION module that speaks volumes about the analog-digital hybrid innovations of its time.
At the Scat-Talker’s heart is an original Votrax SC-01 chip. Yup – we found a bunch of them! The chip’s sounds have gone into outer space on a satellite, were used in the movie “War Games”, Q-Bert video and several pinball games, Radio Shack’s Speech module, as well as the Heathkit HERO robot.
Select one of the 63 built-in phonemes with a control voltage (CV) or panel control aided by the convenient high contrast LCD display, press the button and have some fun by setting the pitch from normal to growls, thru duck like gibberish. Trigger the phonemes with a sample & hold or sequencer, or connect to a DAW with a MIDI to CV converter for speech like sequences.
Scat-Talker has a roughly exponential CV response, but don’t expect perfect tracking or stability. A second attenuated CV input is convenient for adding vibratos and other pitch variations. The ACTIVE output goes to logic high for the duration of the chip’s built-in phoneme length, and the output will conveniently continue to sound.
The Scat-Talker can be made to ‘speak’ by sequencing its phonemes in specific orders, but be warned that the process is quite time consuming. If that is your goal we have some helpful publications on our website, but perhaps the real joy is to use the Scat-Talker’s speech sounds as a new tool in your arsenal of musical sound sources. Imagine – “Gibberish in C Minor”.
The Scat-Talker is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Max Mathews of Bell Laboratories, who while certainly not alone in his efforts, is credited with numerous speech and music related innovations from the 1950’s right up to his death in 2011.
As the story goes, while visiting a friend at Bell Labs in 1961, director Stanley Kubrick was treated to a demonstration of a singing computer with musical accompaniment arranged by Mathews. That song “Daisy Bell” was all the inspiration Kubrick needed for the final dramatic scene in ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’ where the HAL computer is slowly decommissioned. The Scat-Talker’s built in demo sings a few familiar bars from “Daisy” in memory of Mathews.
- Phoneme: Manual phoneme selection (one of 63), plus Demo mode.
- Pitch: Manual initial pitch
- Pitch Amount: Attenuator for external Pitch CV
- Gate Button (with LED)
- Phoneme (PHON) CV: 0 to +5V
- Gate: Logic ~1.2V threshold
- 1V/Oct: Approx. 0 to +5V. Roughly exponential.
- Attenuated Pitch CV: 0 to 100%
- 2 Line high contrast Blue LCD Display
- Active LED (in Gate pushbutton)
Synthesizers.com (DOTCOM) 6 pin Molex standard
+15vdc @ 73 ma, -15vdc @ 16 ma
- Height – 8.75”
- Width – One Moog Unit (MU) – 2.125”
- Depth – 1.25” behind panel
Thank You is in order for the Phoneme List and more from Roger/robotmakers on muffwiggler: