Photos above: Jennifer Meagher, with additional photography by myself.

Handmade Music found a new home on New York’s Lower East Side, at Culturefix, an electronics boutique cum gallery, bar, and tapas. The philosophy of this event has long been to simply open the doors, letting a community of people come together, make some noise, and have fun and learn. So we’re indebted to the people who made it happen – and I think there were some lessons to hopefully reproduce.

And yes, part of why I share this is I hope we can work over time to provide more resources, so that it’s easier to organize events and workshops to involve people in discovering the music technologies about which we’re passionate.

Left: Ted Hayes and Neurohedron, photographed by Mattron (see his Virb pages.) Right: Nick and his Smomid guitar. Photo courtesy Lem Fugitt / Robots-Dreams.


Great food and drink and art. First, I owe huge thanks to Ari and Cole and the whole staff of Culturefix for serving up delicious food and drinks in the kitchen/bar. There’s no reason tech has to be served on an empty stomach. I gather some purchases went down up in their drool-worthy audio boutique. (I, uh, bought a mixer…) But perhaps best of all, it was nice being in a gallery with an active show and being surrounded with texture and visual inspiration.

Lots of people soldering and making electronics, even for the first time. We had a wide group of people try out the 1976 phototheremin, an original design by Forrest M. Mims III adapted and executed by Eric Archer. Simplicity makes a difference: Forrest’s original design uses a tiny number of parts, which makes it ideal for a workshop – fewer solder points. Folks who had never soldered before nailed it in no time at all; Brian Biggs’ young children even got in on the action. We benefited from having a mix of people who had soldered before and some who hadn’t. Result: everyone one had a great time. (Thanks, great participants!) And apart from one case of swapped transistors, remedied with a desoldering gun, we had a 100% success rate. I think this is an ideal way to learn; I hope we can do more of these and perhaps create a new library of these projects for the online age.

Handmade Music: Phototheremin workshop

Video and more photos by Joe Saavedra, who helped out with the workshop:

Chip music, invented guitars, dodecahedron side by side. Guitarist Nick Demopoulos captivated the crowd with his homemade Smomid guitar controller, which aligned MIDI pitches with touch-sensitive strips arranged as frets, for a controller more comfortable for guitar. Ted Hayes talked about the fine details of construction and three-dimensional layouts for sequencers on his Neurohedron – a particular enough task that I think we should probably cover it in more detail with Ted. Pulsewave, the NYC-based chip music series, offered chip music. What was interesting about that was that, by taking it out its usual venue, the music reached a largely unfamiliar crowd. (A number of people were hearing chip music for the first time.) This put the notion of making music with Nintendo handhelds alongside other hacks and DIY solutions for music. Thanks to Peter Swimm for making this happen.

Kris Keyser looks on. Photo courtesy Lem Fugitt / Robots-Dreams.

Above: DePantz, as captured by photographer Maria April. Maria described these images after taking them as expressing how the music felt to her.

Live videos

Thanks to Robots Dreams for the additional photos and videos. If you haven’t seen this superb hacker-friendly site, it’s a definite don’t miss:

And to everyone, yes, we’ll do this again, as well as work on ways of sharing these events across geographic distance, whether that’s publishing additional kit and workshop ideas, promoting events in different places, or … well, really, anything else you’d suggest.