Handmade Music: Science fair-like music series moves to Galapagos Art Space

Attend a Handmade Music night, and you’ve entered a nerdster’s paradise.

The regular series, which serves as a platform for DIY musicians who make their own instruments, is an anything-goes science fair, opening its doors to creations of all stripes, from tech people creating their own software to eco-friendly musicians using repurposed flower pots as percussion instruments.

The first Handmade Music night was an informal meet-up in Etsy’s Brooklyn office in the spring of 2007.

“[We] wanted to provide an environment for people who are making the tools to make their own music to come together and share what they’re doing,” said Peter Kirn, editor in chief of webzine createdigitalmusic.com, which presents the series along with Make Magazine, Etsy.com, and XLR8R Magazine. “We see it as part of a trend away from music as an industrial process or a mass-manufactured product to something people make on their own in every stage of the process.”

Since that first event, Handmade Music nights have traveled all over the world, including Austin, Minneapolis, Portugal, Berlin and Amsterdam. But Brooklyn is its home, and the hub for this sort of stuff. Just last month, Knitting Factory hosted a four-hour DIY instrument building workshop hosted by Yuri Landman (himself the originator of Moodswinger, an electric keyboard meets guitar).

“[Brooklyn’s] just an extraordinary talent base, that’s why it started here,” said Kirn of his own series. “We’re a hub of people who come from so many backgrounds and skills. It’s just been a matter of opening up those doors and getting people together.”

For the past year or so, tinkerers have been gathering at 3rd Ward in Bushwick. Starting March 8, Kirn brings the series to Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO, where it will be a quarterly variety show of sorts, with musicians presenting finished products.

“As weird as a lot of the technology is, people are making interesting music,” said Kirn, who also wants to have labs planned in-between each quarterly session for developers to come in and learn how to make things or experiment with works-in-progress in the comfort of like-minded thinkers. “We wanted the opportunity to do both things – open everything up and let everyone make a complete chaotic ruckus. That’s a lot of fun. Then we wanted to have some sets and stop and listen to want people are doing – a balance of those two things.”

To that end, the March event sees an electro-country band that covers classic honky-tonk songs on their own electronic instruments; another act that experiments with a gesture controller to make sound without any human touch required; the toob, a wireless electronic wind instrument that uses an array of senors to make music the old-fashioned way – through a mouth and hands – as well as be connected to both music and projected visuals; and a sewing machine used as an instrument that will make sound, as well as textiles.

If this sounds a bit out of our league, don’t be discouraged. The Handmade Music series is open to all music appreciators.

“We want to open this stuff up to a wide audience,” said Kirn. “The lesson that we’ve learned from all of these events around the world is that all of us have a lot more to learn. And the music creation is more multi-disciplinary than ever. We really rely on this community to figure out how to accomplish the things that we want to express creatively.”

Handmade Music is March 8 at Galapagos Art Space (16 Main St.) at 8 pm. It is free. For more information, go to www.handmademusic.noisepages.com or call 718-222-8500.

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