Instrument Buildathon

July 6, 2007

Moisten your ears and prepare yourself for a high-volume of instrument-building information and activity! Stephen van Dyck and Eric Lindley have organized a four-part series of events for this very purpose. No previous instrument experience necessary; we’re here to fill in the gaps. Here’s the itinerary:

July 3 - Scrap Trip.

Our instrument building starts with a hunt for materials. We’ll take you to several scrapyards around the San Fernando Valley, introducing you to metal, wood, trash and et cetera. That’s right, you needed us to bring you to trash, especially because we’ll end with an optional dumpster picnic possibly hosted by Eric’s sister. If you join in on the carpool, you will benefit not only from being green, but also from the in-car instrument building discussions, where vast knowledge and advice on the topic will be exchanged by your new elites.

July 6 - Telic Buildathon.

Top Notch Team Teach! Fun Skill Flex Tests the Mettle Best!
Eloquent teachers from around (a very specific part of) the globe convene to share their experiences in building sounding objects and to guide you in constructing your own new musical object. From singing circuits to arcane bellowing tubes, these experts have got it all covered. Bring your own materials, or choose from hand-picked garbage! There will be tables and tables of this stuff, so don’t worry about it if you show up without your favorite cuckoo. Entrance to Telic is free, although we highly persuade you to give us a little sumthin sumthin. Donors’ names will be organized on a very large wall into a caste system of “circles” based on the amount they give. You could end up in the affectionate “fishin’ buddy” circle or the elegant “platinum serpentines of heaven” circle based on your generosity. And if you don’t donate, well, we even have a circle for people like you.

Tables o junk

Chair springy instrument

Circuit bending demo

Donor wall circles thing

July 8 - Chas Smith’s house.

(Date of this event subject to change.) Chas Smith is a Los Angeles-based composer, performer, instrument designer and builder who, in the spirit of Harry Partch, creates much of his music for his own exotic instruments. His compositions, which always display his dualistic fascination with the scientific and the sensual, might owe their split personalities to the diverse collection of composers he studied with in the 1970s: Morton Subotnick, Mel Powell, James Tenney and Harold Budd. (text from his online bio at Cold Blue Music)
The sheer awesomeness of Chas Smith’s instruments prohibits their easy transfer to and from his estate. However, in a one-of-a-kind opportunity for those select participants who receive this e-mail, choose to join in the fun and figure out some kind of carpooling situation with us, you can experience firsthand the intrigue, the danger, and the glory of these creations in their natural habitat.

See! His completed instruments, and listen to their exotic, impossible tones!
Observe! Works in progress and aborted plans that oddly didn’t pan out so much!
Listen! To his advice for upstart instrument-builders who dare to work with nature’s most mysterious element: metal!

July 20 - Telic concert.

By this point we’ve made you eat trash, enslaved you to an instrument sweatshop and introduced you to a real-deal builder/composer to remind you of your faults. Hopefully you’ve picked up a lot of creative ideas, and now that we’ve tamed your primitive, pedestrian and unruly minds to the elite intellectual etiquette of instrument building, it’s time to show off the new you. We encourage instruments that excel beyond craft; for instance, you might want your instrument performance to involve text, film, audience participation, barometric pressure, dominoes, old tapes of antebellum Rosie O’Donnell, feedback, birdfeed, owl pellets, live vomiting, you name it! The more creative, the better. If you’re certain you’ll participate, let us know in advance and we can include your name in the advertising. The donating system will be up again, and this time we’re hoping your “big spender” cousins and uncles and grandmothers are coming.

Give either of us an e-mail or call for specific times and if you want to carpool, or if you can’t come to the scrapyards and have a material request, or if you need any other information. We hope you’ll be joining us soon!

Stephen and Eric.

Stephen van Dyck -
Eric Lindley -

Stephen van Dyck and Eric Lindley are MFA students at CalArts in the Experimental Sound Practices, Creative Writing and Integrated Media programs.