Build and Play a Portable “Electric Eel” Synthesizer
with Noah Vawter (MIT Media Lab)
Date & Time
December 11, 2010, 11am–5pm
December 13, 2010, 7pm–11pm
December 15, 2010, 7pm–11pm
December 17, 2010, 1pm–6pm
Machine Project
$195 for members
$225 for non-members

Join visiting artist Noah Vawter (MIT Media Lab) as he teaches you how to construct the Electric Eel, a portable hybrid synthesizer instrument with a built-in sliding generator, over the course of a week.

For the final class meeting, students will prepare a performance: together, in small groups, or as individuals. The performance will begin in front of a real audience in the vicinity of the gallery. As the instruments’ generators and built-in speakers make them portable, the final performance will proceed along a path while continuing to play, as in a New Orleans funeral. The audience is encouraged to follow, hum, sing dance, or chant, as they wish.

All starting materials will be provided, but there will be room to incorporate additional materials into each instrument. Participants will be encouraged to seek influences on the days in between the workshops, and to integrate these experiences into their personal instrument design. For example, if you’re into the sound of steel drums during the week of the workshop, it may be a sign to produce an instrument which reflects and explores that inspiration. This counts equally for all of the senses. Participants are encouraged to bring materials to facilitate this.

Class 1
Saturday, December 11, 11am–5pm
with Noah Vawter

In the first session, participants will be introduced to one another, and the technology, and led through the construction of the Electric Eel instrument. To save time, focus will be on customizing the instrument to one’s body, playing style, sound, etc. The major electronic modules will be largely presoldered, allowing the majority of the construction time to be spent with drills, knives, saws, paint, glue guns, soldering irons, duct tape. At the end of this day, each participant ought to have something which produces some sound!

Class 2
Monday, December 13, 7pm–11pm
Continue Construction / Begin Rehearsal
with Noah Vawter

Participants will be encouraged to develop their instrument from the previous session along individual paths. This means selecting a speaker, deciding how their instrument will be carried, and selecting from some of the digital sound libraries possible. Also, students will select or begin composing a piece to play. Finally students should beginning forming groups where they wish.

Class 3
Wednesday, December 15, 7pm–11pm
Continue Construction / Rehearsal
with Noah Vawter

Continued workshop day. Participants will be encouraged to further develop their instrument along individual paths, and rehearsal in groups may begin.

Class 4
Friday, December 17, 1pm–6pm
Last-Minute Preparations/ Performance
with Noah Vawter

In the afternoon portion of this session, Noah will assist participants in any last minute performance emergencies, e.g. technical, conceptual, software, electronic, etc. They are also encouraged to rehearse for their final performance. Following rehearsal, the performance with the audience will take place shortly before sunset.

Refund policy:
Please note, all class fees include a non-refundable enrollment deposit of $25 that will be deducted from your refund if you sign up for, then drop, a class. So, for example, if you sign up for Machine Sewing 101 and pay the $155 class fee, but then remember that you have trapeze school final exams that conflict with the Sewing class and shouldn’t have signed up after all, we will refund you $130 of your tuition payment.

Gift certificate purchase:
If you have a Machine Project gift certificate you’d like to redeem for a class, please email us at machine@machineproject.com and let us know.