Above: our friends at 2playerproductions shot this beautiful video that gets at the heart of what circuit bending and DIY electronics are about. It’s a look at some of the work of casperelectronics / Peter Edwards. And yes, Barbie is involved.

Who are the people in your DIY music neighborhood?

Well, quite a few of the DIYers here on Planet Earth are converging this week in New York. Lover of circuit bending, creative electronics, and DIY music hardware are gathering for the massive Bent Festival in Manhattan, complete with performances, workshops, and a book launch. And we’ve got a special edition planned of Handmade Music featuring several artists from Bent, too, in our monthly free event. For the rest of the planet, I hope to share some of these goodies well beyond the borders of the five boroughs.

To give you a taste of the kind of work we’re doing, check out the videos here of Chiptune Marching Band, getting kids making noisy circuits for the first time and the fantastic electronic workings of Peter Edwards’ brain, plus NPR radio coverage of Ranjit Bhatnagar’s hand-crafted “Instrument a Day.”

Here are the highlights of the events.

Bent Festival, April 16-18, The Tank in Manhattan


  • Nightly performances by Dr. Bleep, VBLANK, Christopher McDonald, Computer at Sea, Rhythmmemory, Playboy’s Bend, Die Schrauber, Peter Edwards/casperelectronics, E-Squared, Family TV, Devgon Ash, Ken Rei, Dr. Rek, Pixel Form, Boring Machine, Burnkit 2600, Anti Social Musik Order, plus Handmade Music veterans Lesley Flanigan, Loud Objects, Tristan Perich, and Don Miller / No Carrier … plus free beer every night at 7p.
  • Nic Collins launching a new edition of his book Handmade Electronic Music – The Art of Hardware Hacking. (Can’t wait to read that.)
  • Workshops on making your own Noise Box or miniRungler (sounds like Dr. Seuss), working with sensors and networks and big installations of lights that switch on and off, microcontroller programming, circuit bending, circuit design, and other Brainy Topics for beginners. There’s even a family-friendly workshop on making your chiptune marching band instruments.

Chiptune Marching Band from jamie allen on Vimeo.

And from your cheery neighbors here at CDM and our friends —

Handmade Music returns with a special Bent Edition – free, Thursday, 4/16, 3rd Ward in Brooklyn:

  • “modular synth meets circuit-bent Barbie dolls. noise, drone, dance party with Peter Edwards of casperelectronics.”
  • A surprise mystery instrument(s) from Handmade Music superstar Ranjit Bhatnagar, who promises it’ll be “something weird.”
  • Me, with the DIY Radio Shack contact mic and some custom software, showing you how to have fun with cheap impulse-buy contact mics and make music with water
  • Hopefully surprise cameos from Bent Festival’s Jamie Allen and Jo Kazuhiro talking about the circuitry, the music, and the magic of the Chiptune Marching Band
  • Free beer courtesy Pabst Blue Ribbon, while it lasts

Presented by createdigitalmusic.com with our friends at music trend-setters XLR8R.com, DIY bible makezine.com, and self-made marketplace Etsy.com

Hosted by artists’ facility and happening location 3rd Ward

7:30pm, Thursday, April 16 – FREE!
3rd Ward is located at 195 Morgan Ave., at the corner of Stagg St., in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
(near the Grand St L train)
RSVP: handmade@3rdward.com

Facebook event page

See also lots more at:



For more on handmade music and Ranjit’s brilliant, self-motivated hand-crafted Instrument a Day project, NPR did a fantastic piece on All Things Considered:

An Instrument A Day, Crafted By Hand [audio, interviews, and sound examples of some wild and wonderful instruments]

  • kilbot

    neat idea, but the sounds are horrid! it's what i imagine a barrage of zombie robots crowding the streets would sound like. a little creepy :S

  • The only thing worse than circuit doofusing is circuit doofusing in 2009.

    The internet isn't big enough for this crap!

  • First video: inspiring
    Second video: inspiring second thoughts

    In all seriousness, the chiptune marching band, would have been cool if you know … they were all participating in some sort of organized musical performance. It really looked like the sort of thing kids would do at a hands-on science museum summer camp or something. What makes it creepy is that these folks are clearly too old for that.

    Now … this program seriously … for kids in grade school? Absolutely fantastic. Sign me up as an adult chaperon/volunteer. But I ain't takin' my battery powered kazoo out into the streets with my green vest. no sir.

  • You're not getting it. Acting like a kid is the best part!

  • Pingback: Das Kraftfuttermischwerk » DIY-Klangerzeuger, auch aus Kinderspielzeug()

  • Michael Una

    Wow, a lotta haters today. Lighten up, people. Everyone's gotta rip apart their first electronic device sometime, and it gets noisy. That's step 1, and it's fun.

    Step 2 is where you ask yourself "Now what?" And then it gets real interesting and conceptual.

    Bent fest celebrates all levels of the process, and is very open to entry-level folks who want to roll up their sleeves and kill their first circuit.

    What do you think Bob Moog's first circuit sounded like? Probably pretty nasty. But you gotta start somewhere. And I can think of no better place to start than in a place surrounded by like-minded people encouraging you to continue.

  • Polite

    @plurgid: nothing wrong with being in a room full of people making some crazy noise circuits, but i must admit, the video of them wandering aimlessly around being annoying and wearing advertising on their chest was rather off putting.

    but that's just me.

  • I haven't seen these guys in person; maybe the video isn't communicating properly.

    But what Michael said — that. Yes.