The Automaton Sequencer.
This is a mechanical musical instrument that can be built, customized and deconstructed while it is being performed. It embodies the whimsy of a kinetic sculpture or a Rube Goldberg-esque machine and insights curiosity and audience engagement because of it. It can be well understood as a mechanical representation of a digital sequencer.
The instrument was first conceived as a drum machine (playing an actual drum kit as seen in the reference videos) but for Thingamajigs festival it will incorporate melody, exploring harmony and tuning systems. To do this the machine would no longer be beating drums around the table, rather custom-made circular xylophones that are mounted on gears. Attached to the gear system, they would revolve as the rhythm beats, allowing the creation of either loops or changing melodies.
Combining tactile, visual and audible approaches to music creation helps both the performer and audience to think in interdisciplinary ways; the geometries of a complex rhythm can be seen as the addition of simple shapes and ratios.
Tim Phillips is an English sound artist, musician and inventor based in Oakland, CA. His work looks at making people curious about sounds and rhythms, while using participation and collaboration to encourage interdisciplinary and unexpected outcomes. Tim received a BA and MA in architecture from Sheffield University, England and has worked on public architecture and installations throughout Great Britain and France. He is currently working for a design studio, Gyroscope, Inc., designing interactive exhibits for museums across the US. Tim’s latest personal project ‘CMT creates: music’ explores combining collaborative art with raising awareness for a disease, Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT).
'30 Notes for Drum', consists of a constant roll on a floor tom while a second performer slowly drips wax onto the head of the drum. As the wax bonds to the drumhead, it effectively increases the mass of the head and lowers its resonant frequencies. When wax is applied to different parts of the head, individual nodes are affected and one can hear pitch-shifting in isolated parts of the drum’s spectrum as its modes of vibration are adjusted.
'Lexical Semantics' is for two identical tuning forks are first struck once in unison. One of the forks is then exposed to extreme heat via a small handheld blowtorch, thereby decreasing its pitch by 8-12 Hz. The forks are again struck together, and relatively quick beating is observed. The forks are struck again and again, and one hears the beating slow down as the heated fork returns to room temperature and the two pitches slowly converge.
Todd Lerew is a Los Angeles-based composer and instrument inventor, currently pursuing an MFA in Experimental Sound Composition at CalArts. His work deals with the physical properties of sound and the nature of perception, exploring the use of sound as a plastic medium, and revisiting our understanding of what sound is and how it operates.
He is the inventor of the Quartz Cantabile, which utilizes a principle of thermoacoustics to convert heat into sound. He is the founder and curator of Telephone Music, a collaborative music and memory project based on the children's game of Telephone. His piece for e-bowed gu zheng, entitled Lithic Fragments, is out now on cassette on the Brunch Groupe label.