Tape Canvas
Here's a drawing from one of my sketch pads, early 1970's (click and mouse-over all small pics on the right, including the one shown above this text).

Anti-theory, as usual, is happy to lay the hourglass on its side! Usually the tape head is stationary and the tape moves. Well...

Here's an idea for a very oddball instrument, easy to make and extremely "out there."

A tape canvas (one of way too many unrealized instruments in my old notebooks) is a sheet of resilient material upon which strips of recorded magnetic tape have been fastened, oxide facing out and right next to each other, exactly edge-to-edge.

---•Gallery Version•---

My original idea was to fill a small gallery with these things on the walls. Maybe a dozen or so. Each would exist within the theme of the show via recordings it held as well as how the individual sheets were framed/presented (see the attached pic).

There was to be a stylus hanging from a supple coiled cord at the side of each sculpture, a stereo tape head at its tip. The coiled cord would connect to an inboard amp with either hidden speakers or headphones supplied.

The gallery would be filled with persons standing in front of these things, searching the "canvas" with the sound stylus.

---•Instrument Version•---

Here we have a performance instrument set, worn like guitars by several players, each tape canvas holding recordings of whatever (instrument? sound? music? lyrics?) that specific musician was playing.

Here the tape canvas might be a certain shape, designed as an insert to be placed within the instrument's frame. The musicians would load a certain set of inserts into their instruments for each piece performed.

Like a guitar, there would be tone & volume controls, and a jack for a guitar cord to your effects and amp. Make it with a "neck" full of electronics where the frets would usually be?

Musicians would pick out sections on the canvas to play, moving the head on the tapes in various ways, erratic to cyclic to circular, from fast to s-l--o---w.

Is what's wrong with this idea what's right with this idea? Wide tape? Fast recording speed (one spoken word, for example, across one sweep of the canvas). Slow recording speed (a paragraph spoken across one sweep). Spinning the canvas as an option? From geared slow to super-fast? Forward, backward, many heads & outs & canvas vibrator too?

Or... another direction...

Several modified turntables w/tape canvas on the platters, head(s) on tone arm(s), could be built for loop ensembles (surplus heads are cheap; yes these schemes will wear down a head after a while).

Another thought is to simply attach a tape canvas to the top of a box containing amp & speaker. Make four (guitar sounds, drum sounds, organ sounds, vocals, for example) and hand 'em out at the holiday party. Fun, at least until the eggnog wears off.
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