From building amplifiers to creating musical instruments from fans and scissors, musicians tapped into their engineering side at an intensive summer camp at the School of Music.
The Canberra Composers Collective Summer Camp has been spearheaded by Composition lecturer Dr Alexander Hunter from the School of Music and PhD student and interactive media specialist Charles Martin from the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Swapping musical instruments for soldering irons, students learnt to make microphones, amplifiers and speakers, and how to create an instrument from virtually any object by attaching a microphone. They’ve also picked up coding skills in Pure Data, a programming language used across the music industry to generate and manipulate sound.
The idea behind running a camp focused on electronic and experimental music is to give students and other members of the musical community the opportunity to develop skills they might not encounter in a standard musical education.
“Once you start learning to build your own electronics, you begin to realise the possibilities, and how you can keep adding to that knowledge,” says Dr Hunter.
“Learning how to create electronics, for example distortion panels, or applying microphones to different objects gives musicians greater control over their sound and means they can even step in and fix devices if they ever need to.
“Now that they’ve learnt the basics of building electronics and coding, students can build on this knowledge through online resources, and apply it in other contexts.”
Creating electronic devices is something new for the seven participants in the course, which includes five undergraduate students, one PhD student and another musician from the Canberra music community.
“I usually play jazz, but I’ve always wanted to learn more about this type of music,” says second-year music student Hayden Fritzlaff.
“I know how to use the electronics, but don’t fully understand it yet. I can see so many possibilities though.”
The summer camp ended on Friday night with an ensemble performance using the instruments the students created.
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