Trigon Incantors, like regular Incantors, are circuit-bent human voice
synthesizers. Their output is similar to the standard Incantor though
the Trigon's ability to stream aleatoric (chance) music is perhaps stronger.
Trigon Incantors are very nice at producing streaming sequences of odd
tones, disturbed human voices and unusual sound-effects. Trigon Incantor
experimental musicality is very strong. The Trigon has gained eighteen
additions through the circuit-bending process. These modifications include
5 voice bending switches (for data stream disruptions resulting in chance
music and other unexpected results), 5 stage switches (for setting the
response of the sound stage upon which the steel balls rest), gold-plated
RCA output (for feeding effects, mixer and amp), headphone output (to
monitor dry signal), speaker switch (for muting internal monitor speaker),
reset switch (to remedy crashes), pitch control (sets overall voice
pitch, adjustable down to fascinating low ultra-low frequencies), body
contact (touch for real-time pitch-bending), blue pilot LED and red
envelope LED (red LED flashes with signal peaks).
Trigons are played by positioning the 3 large steel balls on the multi-sensor
Trigon Incantors are finished in crackled fluorescent colors involving
many coats of paints & glosses, including a dusting of holographic powder
making the instrument shimmer with spectra in direct light. Control
titles are hand-inked. Battery cover includes a fine glass eye inset,
bulging out of the distorted plastic in a very organic way.
More, excerpted from Reed's EMI article on Trigon Incantors:
"Like my standard Incantor, the Trigon Incantor
is a circuit-bent human voice synthesizer. Both devices are capable
of producing extremely complex, astoundingly variable sound sequences.
Disoriented by the unforeseen pressures of circuit-bending, wildly deranged
programs now trigger the voice generators along with, in the Trigon
Incantor's case, an ample built-in sound effects bank as well. The resulting
patterns are always intricate, always surprising, and forever capable
of producing something new. In these experimental music boxes chance
and indeterminacy gloriously reign.
"During the early 70s Texas Instruments began to market an electronic
human voice synthesizer in the form of a child's educational toy known
as the Speak & Spell. This rather successful, and at the time quite
novel, device spawned two additional toys. These were the Speak & Read
and the Speak & Math. Looking about the same, all offered a number of
games in which a synthetic voice requests a specific keypad entry from
"Texas Instruments, inspired with the very positive reception of these
talking toys, began to develop similar voice synthesizers for both younger
and older children The Super Speak & Spell appeared for kids who outgrew
the earlier model, and to address the lesser experience and dexterity
of younger children a larger human voice synthesizer was created. Here
the oversized keypad took the form of a colorful page of pictures. Certainly
due a Silly Name Award, this speaking computer was marketed as the Touch
& Tell. Trigon Incantors are made from these.
"Whereas the Speak & Spell might say "Can you spell the word CAT?",
the Touch & Tell would simply prompt "Can you find the cat? Press a
picture!" In the first example a series of small alphabet 'keys' would
need to be accurately pressed. In the second example, just pressing
a picture of a cat would suffice. Further, the Touch & Tell's picture
sheets are interchangeable. Each displays a variable number of images
and is hole-punched along the edge so as to reset hidden switches when
located in place. In this way, alternate switch settings program the
synthesizer's computer relative to each picture sheet. Although regarded
as toys, the only thing childish about these curious talking boxes is
their vocabulary. But with circuit-bending ...
"The principles of chance when applied to electronic sound synthesis
have a history of producing rather intriguing results. Frequency range,
tone color, and the very flexible envelope of the synthesizer's voice
add up to a versatility that can be downright stunning when influenced
by randomized controlling factors. So yes, Incantors are music boxes...
experimental music boxes employing these principles with the addition
of human voice artifacts thrown in. Both frequency and dynamic range
are impressive, especially apparent when monitored through the line
output feeding a good amp or hi-fi sound system. My enthusiasm, I've
discovered, is shared now by Incantor owners everywhere. From stage
use for large audiences to simply sitting alone with one on the lap,
reports of amazement are always coming in.
"With voice characteristics being somewhat similar, the standard and
Trigon Incantor differ greatly in the playing techniques (keypad vs.
steel balls). Both are capable of producing short as well as on-going
streams of finely delineated digital sounds. These sounds, which range
from percussive to melodic to vocal, and are constantly re-evolving
through abstraction after abstraction, can be initiated on each instrument
through various data entries involving the new circuit-bending switches,
steel ball positioning, as well as standard keypad actuation.
"Both Incantors have pitch/speed controls which slow down the digital
surges of information, exposing whole worlds of new sounds. As the pitch/speed
is decreased, falling frequencies rattle the windows and drop out of
hearing range while fresh high-pitched voices float in from the top
... always changing, always cycling. In this way the texture, or 'grain,'
of the signal is exposed and the strange sonic building blocks become
"Each Incantor includes voice bending switches; three for the standard
Incantor and five for the Trigon. These activate the added circuitry
creating the wild voice transmutations, and are at the heart of the
bending. Body-contacts appear on both as well. Like the rotary pitch
control, these conductive metal knobs also affect frequency when in
communication with the flesh. Though they do not move, varying finger
pressure acts upon the instrument's voice in a way similar to a synthesizer's
pitch-bend wheel, or a guitar's tremolo bar. Both Incantors also include
custom reset switches, fluctuating envelope LEDs, and accept the original
expansion modules manufactured by Texas Instruments.
"How voices are looped represents a real difference between the standard
and the Trigon Incantor. The looping system on the standard Incantor
consists of four separate controls: a momentary or "loop search" push-button,
a toggle switch for "loop hold", an electric eye for shadow control
of loop sequencing, and an on-off switch to activate this eye. In comparison,
all of this is accomplished on the Trigon Incantor by placement on the
pressure-sensitive stage of the heavy steel balls. One, two, or all
three balls can be used for setting loops (non-continuous voices are
triggered by momentary finger pressure on the stage).
"Incantor looping presents very unusual, strangely varying rhythmic
structures unlike those from any other source I've ever heard. And loops,
of course, can be slowed down in the same way as all Incantor voices
with the same peculiar sonic results. Dramatic pitch sweeps, unique
percussive bursts, disarrayed phonemes, extraordinary note sequences,
surrealistic wordings and intriguing tone colors all combine here in
a sensuous panoply of sound."