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The Piezo Electric Effect: Using contact mics to find sonic resonance within objects

Saturday, June 16, 2018
at 3:00 PM

Building 8a
Nolan Park
Governors Island, NY 100004

Free Event



Event Information

Come to this free event to create your own instrument using piezo disks and everyday objects!

Avant-garde composer John Cage wrote a piece in 1960 titled Cartridge Music. This concept was this: a cartridge from a phonograph pickup is dismembered, the needle replaced with “all manner of unspecified small objects.” Pipe cleaners, matches, feathers and wires were sounded against surfaces, walls, bodies and floors in order to amplify the small sounds of vibration that occurred on contact. Cartridge Music is an example of a type of work produced as part of the Fluxus Movement. Fluxus artists, like Cage, often produced work in the form of “events”, which provided a set of instructions about how the work should be performed, but left much open to circumstance and chance of the moment of enactment.

Much like the pickups used in Cartridge Music, piezo disks are small components that use the electric properties of crystals to generate signal. In this workshop, we will use piezo disks as contact microphones in order to sonify and amplify hidden resonances within commonplace objects that surround us. Drawing on ideas from Nic Collins’s Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hacking Hardware, we will use vibratory materials to create our own DIY instruments, which we will amplify and perform with together in the Harvestworks Governor’s Island house. Attendees will have the chance to try hands on soldering. You should also come with objects that you might use to create amplified signal i.e. metal utensils, bowls, plastics, anything with interesting sonic potential. We will have an assortment of small materials on hand


Participants: Harvestworks