Waterloo Tape Music Club: contact!

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Regular readers know about the nascent (and I rarely use that word) Waterloo Tape Music Club. They know because they read my earlier post on WTMC meetup #1 back in January. An engineer, a composer and a DJ wanted make electronic noise/music and they invited the community to join them.

Here’s where I usually ask you to throw me a couple of bucks if you like this story, but let’s just get on with it. You know the drill. As Maria Popova of the very awesome Brain Pickings says: donating = loving.

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This is going to be mostly photos because there are many and I want to just ease you into the weekend. WTMC is nomadic (and looking for free-no-pay venues for meetups). We were up in St Jacobs last Thursday night in the Felt Lab.

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Matt and Colin: two thirds of the steering crew.

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Focus of the night was contact microphones, which in their simplest form are just piezo elements with wires attached. You’ll find piezos in everything from your microwave to your alarm clock. Anything that beeps. If you apply an alternating voltage across them, they deflect and (often) produce sound waves. In the other direction if you bend them, they create a voltage that you can measure/amplify like a microphone. When you attach them directly to vibrating things, all sorts of interesting results emerge.

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Just guessing: 8 pre-amplifiers?

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Lots of gear to haul around and a lot of wires to untangle.

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Nik works with Matt.

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Here’s his rig.

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Touch these pads and change the frequency of the sounds emitted.

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DJ Jordan Mandel, engineer Matt Borland, composer Colin Labadie. The power trio of WTMC.

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Matt showed using a ten-cent inductor with a neo-magnet on top to generate sound while in the field of this brushless motor computer fan.

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Shout to UW’s REAP folks for the venue.

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Milk bottles + contact mics.

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MUX and microcontroller.

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‘Twas cool this time to have the guys talk about various aspects of electronic noise/music making.

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Jordan also manages the digital media lab at UW’s Stratford campus.

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Rob Adlers brought out his big red rig of stuff and some tiny pianos.

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All sorts of motors and actuators were hooked up to Jordan’s keyboard.

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Nik mic’d this steel bowl.

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Meta-shot of Joy Smith who manages the lab. Thanks for staying late, Joy.

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All eyes on Colin.

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Colin playing one of Rob’s tiny pianos after affixing a contact mic.

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With slightly more structure this time, we were encouraged to do 2-person sound improvisations. Nik and Joy up first.

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Next team up.

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Looks like fun.

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Only two minutes per improv.

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Oscar watches for cues…

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from his…

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Then it was time for the expert improv.

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Jordan was rocking this plate-hanger, playing the springs like strings.

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Colin gave a short talk…

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with accompanying video from a sound performance he did.

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This coffee pot, half-filled, had a contact mic attached and made the most wicked sound when sloshed.

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I told Matt, Colin and Jordan that WTMC offers several things I love: new friends, music,  opportunities for learning, and electronics with the guts hanging out. So good. If you’re super-keen to know more you can contact Matt at tak@takforidag.com

Leave yer sofa, join us.

Bringin’ the noise riverside, this is St Jacobs.


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