... from scratch


This project is designed to strip away previous ideas of 'musicianship', in order to re-evaluate the sounding properties of objects, how they may be made into instruments, how playing techniques might be developed and how music may be created as a result. It is not necessarily a 'digital' project as such, but its value to anybody working in a digital context should quickly become apparent, especially through its ability to awaken the ears. It is potentially a long-term project lasting several weeks and can work well with small or very large groups.

The Project

Participants find objects with interesting sonic properties to develop into a performance machine. Participants will develop new performance techniques using these objects, avoiding using their existing technical skills - the project is 'from scratch'.
1 Find sonic objects Analyse the sonic properties of the objects. Can they be modified or tuned? Does an object have obvious musical potential? How can it combine with other objects?
2 Research other people's uses of similar objects Is there a history of musical use of such an object? Are there any obvious musical or aesthetic associations? How have other people used and developed similar objects?
3 Make an instrument How can the object be turned into an instrument? What are the best ways to exploit its sonic potential? How can it be made playable? Can it be combined with other objects to form a single instrument?
4 Develop a performance technique What are the performance issues? Is it possible to become a virtuoso on this new instrument?
5 Create some original music Will this instrument work best solo or in an ensemble? What kind of music would work best for the instrument? Is there any similar music which can be used as a model? Is the music notated or non-notated?
6 Give a performance How best to present this music to an audience? How much rehearsal is required? What would be an appropriate performance mode?


This is a beneficial project for any group of musicians, but the particular importance for the 'digital musician' lies in the experimental approach, the sonic exploration and the removal of anything that resembles familiar technique. Computers may be used at every stage for analysis, research, planning, structuring, recording and even in performance, so there may be some obviously 'digital' component, but this is not essential.