Recording with Makoto Nomura

Makoto Nomura is a well established composer and performer well known for his work with animals and his use of  the melodica as his prominent instrument. I had the pleasure of working with him last week and recording a series of improvised works to be broadcast on UK BBC Radio sometime in tthe future. Our insruments were voice, printer ink carriages, scanner motors, 9v batteries, PC CD drives, cassette motors, bean tins and CD laser head carriages. The sounds came from the motors that are attached to these gears and carriages. This was indeed ‘motor music’.

We had a fantastic time experimenting with recording in the echoy corridors of the DMU PACE building.

A lot of what we worked on was lo-fi, especially the unique sounds that some of the motors made through the cardboard box amplifiers, they were very much preferable to the nice BOSE speakers whose sound was just too clean and characterless.

A very dirty night was had by all.


Dismantling scanners and printers

I’ve been dismanltling scanners and printers to make musical instruments from their moving parts. Every brand comes appart differently and every motor has a unique sound which makes for a set of fantastic kinetic devices that each have their own ideosyncracies.

This is an obsolete scanner. The sound is a DIRECT OUTPUT from the motor. It’s quite stiff so the initial movement is fast, making the output quite painful to the ear.

The waggly DIRECT SIGNAL OUTPUT from the motor hanging from the end of a paper guide roll.

And the wonderful lumpy DIRECT SIGNAL OUTPUT sounds of the motor that is a part of the ink cartridge carriage.

These are the raw materials for larger musical systems, and the cost nothing but time (which some may argue is the most expensive commodity of all).

ed. Everything comes apart in it’s own way and half the fun is working out how to dismaltle one of these without instructions. Over the years I have aquired a collection of tools that are useful for this task, such as extra long screwdrivers and a particularly useful pair of needle nose pliars that can be worked under plastic lips to unclip covers. Sometimes I can spend what feels like an age looking for that last hidden screw that is preventing me from dissasembling the device.