Little Composer – The Melody Making Sequencer

I can’t really finish my drum machine right now because I am waiting for some 3-way switches to arrive from ebay. I need to learn to stock up. I am way to impatient for this whole “12-21 days shipping from Thailand” thing.

What to do instead?
I picked up this second hand synth the other day. It’s called the Little Composer by Leap Frog.

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It’s really more of a musical learning toy for children. It has an 8 note measure that you can adjust each not from low to high C (only in the key of C, of course). The Little Composer has 7 voices. There are three instruments; piano, guitar and violin. There is also a woman voice that tells you what the note is. A, B, C, D, E, F, G… That is really annoying. And finally there is a dog, a cat, and a frog. These only sound good when they are clocked really high or really low.

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There are also a bunch of songs too but they are all lame. I suppose that they could be kind of cool clocked real low because the would go for a really long time but I don’t think I will include them in the final build.

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The ocatave has no sharps or flats. which is unfortunate. It would be awesome to have a full octave. Of course, if one were to add a pitch bend, one could hit any western key that they wanted.

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Naturally, that’s just what I did. I removed the timing resistor and added a pitch bend in series with about 5k ohms (i think),

Here comes the cool part. When you press the play button, this melody-maker only goes through the measure once. This is a real bummer. How is a child suppose to learn music if they can only play one measure at a time. So, I added an LFO from a 555 timer.

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It took me a little while to figure out how to make it work. I ended up just running a 10k out of the output from the 555 timer and going strait to the pin on the control circuit that handled the play button. That worked great. I thought I was going to have to do some weird thing with a transistor that I wouldn’t fully understand for the next couple of years. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.

So, if you tune the LFO frequency, as I am doing in the video below, you can get the melody maker to act as a sort of 8 note sequencer. SWEET RIGHT?!

Next, I think I am going to have to add the usual LFO to modulate the pitch and maybe even a tremolo. I’m also waiting on some frequency divider chips from ebay. Maybe one of those will make it in too.

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Happy Bending!

4 thoughts on “Little Composer – The Melody Making Sequencer

  1. Hey just wanted to pop in and say thanks for the site! I’m just starting out in circuit bending but have been a long time tinkerer. Like your tone and how you are a real fella in the sense that you flat out say if you don’t understand something (the transistor comment had me rolling). Just starting to mess with the glorious 555 and some 386op.
    Ya got way further with the LMC than I did lol. If ya want a second one to mess with, let me know. I had great plans for it as a sequencer but man, it was kinda a stone wall. So it just sits here-figure you could put it to better use and the wife is always happy when something leaves here 🙂

    That first one ya tinkered with looks like the venerable My Music Maker (2.0) I have bent two of these but have had almost the exact same experience. First one I had was a 1.0 and was a POS when I got it from the thrift, but even after being nursed back to working order it was always kinda “sick”. Keys would cause it to crash, it would randomly leak voltage on others lol. A real crackhead. I ended up of course with the “D-cup” size timing resistor lol and a strange ground lift connection that actually stabilized it somewhat… Ended up full of awesome with resonance from the key matrix jumpers that is pretty neat.
    2.0 was a different story altogether and insanely similar to yours! Apparently they had fixed a lot of the early glitchy awesomeness and instead replaced it with low tolerance stability 😦 Got it and thought “piece a cake, gotta be like t’other” only to have it stinkin’ up the joint two minutes later. I normally probe around nimbly, but was kinda ogre-style on it but still it caved a lot faster than others I have dealt with.

    Anyhoo, thanks again for the site and hopefully I can get some stuff together to post too. I am terribly lazy about taking pictures or any kinda documentation outside of hand-drawn stuff, but have gotten a little better. Long story-gift camera that you have to take the GD batteries out of every time you finish takin pics or it is dead in 10 mins 😦 If you want the LMC (of course free) let me know. Best to ya and keep tinkering 🙂

    • Hey there!

      Thanks so much for the awesome comment. It’s always awesome to hear from new benders. KEEP AT IT. I have talked to so many people who have started but don’t put in any time into learning about electronics. They get discouraged and stop. Seriously, keep at it. Things get better and better as you get into stuff like the 555/556 and the 4017 and the likes.

      The little composer was truly my favorite circuit bend that I ever worked on. The bummer part was, I killed it. I don’t know how I did it but it’s fried. I can’t tell you how sad I was when that thing died. I seriously put so much work into and had some really cool plans for it. it’s such an awesome toy.

      I feel bad, I haven’t posted in so long. I just recently got an Arduino micro-controller and have been messing around with that. My hope is to someday build a quad-copter. but I have much to learn before I get there.

      You can do some really neat stuff with an Arduino. I should post some videos.

      In terms of your spare one… If you really think you aren’t going to do anything with it… I would totally take it off your hands. Like I said before, it was my favorite bend. I got so many neat loops out of it. Let me know if you decide you don’t want it.

      In the mean time, I will try to get back into posting more. Do you have a blog or any videos of stuff you have been messing around with? I would love to see what you have been working on.

      Thanks again for the comments, it makes all the time I have put into this silly blog worth every minute.

      Take care and keep in touch,

  2. Yeah lol I do get pretty frustrated. There seems to be some mental block up there in my brain in the realm of electronics. I’ve always been pretty quick at picking up things, but here I am 30 years later not much further along lol. I can diagnose and repair with the best of them (how I make some scratch while the wife finishes her phd) almost intuitively, but the actual design and the magic of what happens inside seems to stay just outta grasp, like that section of my brain just isn’t firing lol.
    Had an incident last night after posting where the knobs I put on my VRs have drastically changed the rage of effect (I’m guessing the resistance/capacitance of my body on the metal wiper post had a nice effect) so I’m setting out to figure that out today. Mainly I get frustrated at my lack of workspace. I have to do most of the stuff in my lap or on our round dinette, so it also has to be cleaned up fairly regularly for company and general hygiene lol. BUT we’ve got 1.5 years till she’s done and then the house and dog and workspace with power supply and temp controlled soldering iron will materialize. Gotta be patient, but man, ya know? Thanks for letting me vent lol.
    Hit me up at my gmail (i think you can see it) and we’ll get the ball rolling on the LMC. I’ll probably just send ya a “summer camp care pack” with a coupla other things you may have some success with. I’ve been finishing up some restorations and cleanings on a coupla “real synths” I need to ebay, so what’s one more package in the mix lol.
    Thanks for the update post too! I’ve been reluctant to mess with arduinos as I’m a regular at Hackaday and folks on there seem put the cart before the horse, using it to make leds blink and such when a cap does the same thing. Anyhoo, never enjoyed code as I’ve always liked hardware, but after I get the electronics end figured out, it looks like I’ll end up going to that platform. My wife got me “Making Things Talk” for free from amazon, assuming it had to do with furbys (that I often mess with), bless her heart. Pretty worthless text/dollar ratio as there are many more competent tutorials on the net. Good to see ya getting your feet wet and having success with it tho 🙂


    • I know what you mean,

      It’s tough to get the true grasp of electronics and then actually APPLY it. I have posted on some electronics occasionally and people will respond to my questions with Ohms law. Don’t get me wrong, I get it… but I don’t KNOW it. So, I just learn as much as possible and then go in only a little blind.

      And I TOTALLY feel you on the lack of work space (vent away brother). I live in an apartment with my wife and I have NO PLACE to call my work bench. I am a maintenance manager for an apartment building and there is a shop down there. I do some work down there from time to time, but it’s not MY space. I need MY space. It’s a tough one. I always have to clear off my project from the dining room (if you can call it that) table or we have to eat on the couch because my crap is all over the place. At least she is patient with me.

      I will email you about that LMC. I would love to get my hands on it… Only if you don’t think you can do anything with it. I don’t want to stifle any creativity.

      In terms of Arduinos, again, I totally feel you on it… but you have to remember, it’s all the same stuff. Electronics. Just spiced with a little code. It’s only 30-40 bucks for a starter kit on ebay. I say it’s totally worth it so you can round out your education and knowledge of all things. Plus, the open source nature of it really lends itself to bending and integration with bending. It’s such a powerful tool and I have only just scratched the surface.

      But I really do know what you mean about being more about the components and less about the code. It almost seems like cheating. Especially when you can take the code from online, hook up some parts, and call it done.

      Thanks so much, again, for all the comments. As I was telling another person, it’s SO COOL to connect with people who circuit bend. There aren’t too many round me that I know of. So, thanks for making the effort to connect with me. It’s awesome.

      Be well,

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