One of the wonderful things about music in general is that basically anything can become a musical instrument — digital, electronic, or otherwise. The barrier to entry is neither skill nor means, but will. (or is that general craziness?) Musician and builder Eric Johnson surprised us at the last handmade music get-together in Brooklyn with musical crutches. Realfans.TV has again pre-empted their usual programming of American football fans to capture the moment (even most of the locals missed this one, as he didn’t pull them out until after all but a few of us had left):


We’ve got another event coming up next Thursday, September 27. I’ll repeat the description I wrote up for MAKE (plus read on for a very cool companion MAKE:nyc event likely to be of interest to CDMers):

Handmade Music is an evening of original creations for music making, open to the creative minds of the New York area. It’s equal parts party, show-and-tell, performance, and science fair, open to whatever oddball software and hardware people want to bring, complete or not. Some come with projects, others just to hear and see unusual new instruments, from software to game systems to homemade electronic instruments.

Each installment brings plenty of surprises, but appearances confirmed for this one include:

  • A featured performance by Richard Lainhart, a renowned electronic improviser and innovator. (Note: Richard promises his debut performance on his Buchla + Continuum setup, a rig we’ve been following here on CDM — hopefully this will calm down those of you who complained these events are all about MIDI toilet seat controllers. It’s really all about the music.)
  • Seven-foot tall “Suburbanite” aka “60 Switches of Fury”, a music controller by Eric Johnson
  • The Monome, a minimalist open-source hardware controller with grids of buttons. (Okay, yeah, readers here need no introduction to the Monome.)
  • A fluid musical instrument controlled entirely by webcam, by (me, meaning I’d better get that properly working!)
  • Lots of other things that may just appear — and, yes, NYC-area CDMers, this means you: more projects welcome!

The event is a convergence of the music community/blog, the kings and queens of all things DIY at Make Magazine and, and handmade marketplace The event is hosted at Brooklyn’s community workshop, Etsy Labs.

If you want to come, please If you wanna bring something, tell us about it in your RSVP email… (Ed.: though, assuming it’s smaller than Eric’s switches of fury, we also welcome last-minute stuff showing up!)

Thursday, September 27th. 8PM. Etsy Labs. 325 Gold St. 6th Floor. Brooklyn. See you! (Map).

Make:NYC Meeting, Too

In addition to Handmade Music, a self-formed group of Make fans is also holding a meeting at Etsy Labs Thursday. I’ll be invading, because I’m actually a bit of a dunce when it comes to actual electronics, and they’re teaching an electronics lab for $1 on how to make a timing circuit. Oops, it’s full: Yes, upon checking the RSVP, the Make Magazine hordes seem to have used up the scant available spots. But we’ll still have them up for Handmade Music to hang out and see what show-and-tell projects people bring. There’s very often stuff us music folk can learn from the actual electronics gurus, in my experience. (Well, again, my experience of being a software guy and patching up my remedial electronics skills!) If I can sneak into the workshop, I’ll leak all their secrets to the world.

Details and a separate RSVP:

Make:NYC Meeting 0

Below, back to Eric Johnson, here’s a snapshot preview of Eric’s “Switches of Fury”, from Katy Portier:
Sound nerds are super cool

Couldn’t have said it better myself; thanks, Katy! And somehow, we will get this up to Etsy Labs.

Switches of fury

  • Anonoooo

    Wow look at me! Not only do I not need these crutches at all, but I'm elite enough to make pretentious musical crap with them – Take that poor cripplez w/no leet skillz – Yay!

  • Darren Landrum

    Does the world really need another controller made of stuff… I mean, really… not that I care, sorry…


    (Just kidding.)

  • Damon

    Yes, but this one is covered by your HMO…


    And Eric's parents came home from vacation, horrified…

  • True, Anonoooo, true, but until we can find ways of using trolls as musical controllers…

  • anon

    I am no relation to the above troll

  • Damon

    Con Troll ers…

  • Anonoooo

    Troll? – who can't take a joke aimed at a guy using devices that are needed people who are injured/diseased/handicapped to make musical elite whimsy?

  • Actually, half the people I know who have broken their legs, etc., have wound up with crutches sitting around that no one would want. So I see no particular problem here. Musical instruments have been made out of endangered animal parts and exotic woods; recycling's not such a bad idea!

  • Darren Landrum

    So would it be okay then if these crutches were used to make whatever music it is that you like?

  • I'll just add, for the record, I'm not only interested in interfaces for their novelty. I think if you can approach a familiar object and make it a musical instrument, then you can approach an existing musical instrument (keyboard, guitar, violin) in a new way. That would apply not only to "experimental" musicians, but to sitting down with Bach.

    If I thought this were in any way really offensive, Anonooo, I'd be the first to be on your side.

  • Darren Landrum

    And I may have been a bit trollish there myself. I should learn to control that mouse-clicking finger.

  • Anonoooo

    Well, I actually like your point, Peter.

    If I lived in China, I would buy the inexpensive organs of executed and connect them to midi-enabled organs using Max for art installations, so who am I to complain?

    Just kidding! Hugs all around (take the hugs you bastards!).

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