Incantors, circuit-bent Speak&Spells, Speak&Reads and Speak&Maths, are prime examples of circuit-bending's power to produce alien music engines. The anti-theory electronics at work within these human voice synthesizers result in a stunning instrument capable of producing literally endless abstract sound sequences to listen to and work with. Incantor aleatoric (chance) music streams are simply intriguing.

The twelve added features include 2 human body contacts (for real-time pitch bending), 3 voice bending switches (for data stream disruptions resulting in chance music and other unexpected results), 3 looping switches (search, hold, and electric eye for shadow-looping with a wave of the hand), pitch/speed dial (allows for super-slow clocking, disintegrating the voices and tones into intricate showers of deep electronic sounds), reset switch (to restore circuit after crashes), gold-plated RCA output (for feeding effects, mixer and amp), speaker switch (for muting the built-in speaker), blue power LED and ultra-bright red envelope LED (envelope LED is hidden inside casing, positioned to flash on player's hands during volume peaks). Some units will have battery tie-downs instead of a battery door depending on stock at hand. Requires 4 "C" cells.

Speak&Spell version produces the most repeatable sounds, the Speak&Read contains the largest vocabulary and the Speak&Math has the least keypad controls, but also the sharpest voice (though this takes knowing all three to discern, the difference being real but not extreme). All units contain the original blue fluorescent alpha-numeric display and membrane keypad. All units also take expansion cartridges (hard to find).

Incantors are finished in shaded fluorescent colors and gold veining.

More, excerpted from Reed's EMI article on Incantors:

" ...the SPEAK & SPELL product line eventually included other voice synthesizers... the SPEAK & READ, the SPEAK & MATH, the SUPER SPEAK & SPELL, and a few more not as well known. Circuit-bending the SPEAK & SPELL series brings forth a sonic landscape that in its diversity is nearly indescribable.

"The circuit-bent SPEAK & SPELL, with its headphone output feeding an amplifier or reverb unit, is capable of producing sounds and frequencies that will rival any synthesizer in existence. Its signal-to-noise ratio is better than countless well-accepted electronic instruments, and the unpredictable nature of its endless voices provides the experimental musician with new material every time the apparatus is turned on.

"The concept of such an instrument has always intrigued me. Before computer controlled keyboard synths were common, I spent nearly $1,000 building one in order to be able to write programs based upon pseudo-random variables hoping to produce a machine that would always surprise me with highly variable sound-forms and automatic composition (the PAIA P4700-J). Not that it didn't have its own rewards in other areas (it did some wonderful things!), but within the world of sonic eccentricity it, like most other synths, simply can't touch the modified SPEAK & SPELL.

"1) The operating rate of the circuit can be sped-up or decreased with the addition of potentiometers. This modification can slow the voice down to the point of sweeping electronic growls, fascinating in their frequencies and wave forms."

"2) Several points on all boards can be shorted to each other sending fractured digital streams of information back into areas where such were never ever meant to be. Two categories emerge, one having abstractions mixed with words, and one of pure abstractions with no wordings at all. The abstractions are vocal computer gibberish... chains of vowels, consonants, multi-phonemes, and computer tones. These chains can last for a few seconds or in some cases go on and on as the ROM, RAM, and lattice filter collide within the figure-8 racetrack of circuit-bending. Slowing this digital insanity down with the aforementioned speed control is like having an outlandish sonic microscope to explore sound with. The results are intriguing. Circuit-bending points that incorporate words may also invite ridiculous phrases. One of my modified SPEAK & READs, in a voice that sounds like an intoxicated Jack Benny, occasionally says "Let's smell the scissors s'more."

"3) Perhaps the most interesting composition-viable bending points are those that create a loop function. The digital stream of information (1200 bits per second) is interrupted, the results of this being different each time, giving the instrument the unpredictability and endless effects as mentioned earlier. If the loop function is switched on in the middle of a word, the result is not the simple sustained phoneme you might expect. Instead, a wild course of sonic events ensues, looping endlessly until released by the same switch. Some of the sounds are indescribable, but an example might be: "Ayy" - bell sound - pitch sweeps - "oh" - metal crash - bubble sound. The whole thing then repeats. Loops can be set within abstract voices as well as within wordings, and they can also be slowed down with the potentiometer exposing even more surprising hidden sounds. Circuit-bent SPEAK & SPELLs are audio adventure wonderlands, each foray with its own rewards."


Each of the three Incantor variants are $1,200 plus shipping. This instrument is also available as a Bare Bends model. See the Bare Bends  Gallery.



POB 20181
Cincinnati, OH 45220