Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Handmade Electronic Musical Instrument Workshop - AMSTERDAM

I’m just back from a week away in Amsterdam, where I attended a brilliant workshop: ‘Handmade Electronic Musical Instruments’ with Nicolas Collins at STEIM. Day 1 started with making 'electronic percussion' out of a raw loudspeaker, 9V battery, coins, and scrap metal (used as variable resistors). Voila, electronic maracas! We made & played around with contact (piezo disc) & coil mics. Then on to the circuit bending :) We each dissected a battery powered AM radio, laid our hands across the circuit boards & found marvelous sounds in the short circuits! Using the musical toys we were asked to bring, we tried to locate the resistor which controlled the clock chip and replace it with a variable pot = cheap, & fantastically weird alternate to a drum machine.

Days 2 & 3 got stuck in to making circuits from scratch, first on breadboard, and then soldered. This included an oscillating circuit, controlled with photo sensor resistors sat on top of blinking LEDS (my fave), a dirty sounding modulation circuit, a mixer and a phaser. I came away with bleeping, clicking, flashing circuits to use in my music. I need to box them all up now though! Nic had some examples where his circuits were housed in cigar boxes & old tins. I’m full of new ideas for recording techniques. The best thing about this course though is that it’s shown me how tactile electronic instruments can be, & has opened up many possibilities for using them in live performance. Watch this space!

Some other pics ...

View from my secret annexe -

Hot melted mograt & mozzarella pizza. Quite a speciality !

Westerkerk Clock Tower (view from fleamarket)

Canal boat garden.

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