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Matthew Sperry Festival: Nicolas Collins Hardware Workshop

From: Tom D.
Sent on: Sunday, May 6, 2012 9:22 PM
Every year a group of Matthew Sperry's friends put on a festival
in his memory.  This year, the festival will consist mainly of a
2-day workshop on (musical) Hardware Hacking with composer, instrument
builder and DIY advocate Nicolas Collins

The workshop will take place at Techshop SF (926 Howard St,
San Francisco, CA 94103) on June 12 and 13, from 10:00-6:00
both days.  The workshop fee is $30 (cheap!)  Register at
We have limited space, so please sign up early!

I'm pretty excited about this.  Nic Collins is a phenomenal composer,
writer and teacher, and his workshops are justifiably famous.  Here's
the details:

Nic Collins has presented dozens of hands-on workshops in Hardware
Hacking all over the world.  Assuming no technical background
whatsoever, he guides participants through a series of sound-producing
electronic construction projects, from making simple contact
microphones, through "bending" toys, to making oscillators and other
circuits from scratch. The curriculum is drawn from his book,
Handmade Electronic Music -- The Art of Hardware Hacking
The workshop will end with a public performance/installa­tion by the

The topics covered include:
* Alternate microphones (contact mikes, coil pickups, using speakers
   and headphone as microphones, tape heads, binaural mikes, etc.)
* Homemade transducers for sending sound through objects for physical
   filtering (cheap "Rainforest".)
* "Victorian synthesizer" (making an oscillator with just a speaker
   and a battery.)
* "Laying of hands" on a radio circuit board (the poor man's
* "Circuit Bending" (new noises from old toys.)
* Circuits from scratch: oscillators, tremolo/gate/panner,­ mixers.
   preamp/distortion, pitch trackers, weird analog signal processing,

In Nic's own words: "I set out to regain the radical rethink of
Alvin Lucier's Vespers: to disassociate music and sound from the
limited types of objects sold in music stores, and through this
disassociation to prompt new musical discoveries; and at the same
time to explore how this drama of interaction between object and
idea has played out in experimental music of the past 50 years.
[...] Participants leave empowered, carrying several new instruments
and the skills needed to continue inventing and building on their

We will bring most of the electronic parts needed for the projects.
In addition, individual participants are expected to provide some
materials and facilities (list here:

videos from past workshops

video of the public presentation at the end of a workshop at the Ecole
Supurieure d'Art d'Aix-en-Provence, France, fall 2007.­

workshop photos on Flickr.­

Blogs by Audrey Samson and Chad Jones from a workshop at STEIM in
Amsterdam in April, 2009.

Nicolas Collins, an active composer and performer of electronic
music, is a Professor of Sound at The School of the Art Institute
of Chicago. He has led Hacking workshops around the world, from
Beijing to Brussels to Bogota, and has worked with John Cage, Alvin
Lucier, David Tudor, and many other masters of modern music. He
lived most of the 1990s in Europe, where he was Visiting Artistic
Director of Stichting STEIM (Amsterdam), and a DAAD composer-in-residenc­e
in Berlin. Since 1997 he has been editor-in-chief of the Leonardo
Music Journal.

About Matthew Sperry [masked])

Musician Matthew Sperry was killed by an inattentive driver while riding 
his bicycle to work on June 5, 2003. Matthew was a father, husband, and 
bass player, who touched and left lasting impressions on everyone he met. 
Since then his many friends in the Bay Area music community have organized 
an annual festival in his memory. From the original, spontaneous convening 
of grieving musicians at 21 Grand in June 2003 the Festival has grown to 
include national and international artists drawn from Matthews vast circle 
of inspiration and collaboration: from Tom Waits to M.C. Schmidt, Swedish 
musician and inventor, Johannes Bergmark to local composer and cellist 
Theresa Wong, who used Matthews bicycle as an electro-acoustic instrument.

Tom Duff.  The only way out of a circle is through the center.

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