Experimental Instruments

A key inspiration for making my own instruments came from Hal Rammel, who began teaching instrument invention workshops at the Experimental Sound Studio in 1990. I had also seen and heard Nicolas Collins and Elliott Sharp perform on invented instruments of varying complexity, in concerts co-sponsored by ESS and Randolph Street Gallery in the late-80s. And prior to that I attended percussion recitals as an art student at Northern Illinois University, where it wasn’t unusual to see musicians playing hubcaps, bowls, and other everyday non-musical items.

An image of Eric Leonardson demonstrating his homemade instrument, the Springboard.

The Springboard

The Springboard is an experimental instrument I built in 1994 to explore the sonic potential of coil springs and other readily available materials. The inaudible vibrations of these materials are amplified by one very affordable piezo disc contact microphone. When played with cello bows and homemade friction mallets, I am able to produce extraordinary sounds over a wide frequency range that belie the humble origin of these selected materials. READ MORE

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