Hardware Hacking: Using Old Electronics to Make Music


Nicolas Collins is the editor-in-chief of the Leonardo Music Journal as well as chair of the sound department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a student of Alvin Lucier and known for his book titled Handmade Electronic MusicAlvin Lucier is a composer from the mid twentieth century.  He is known for being the first person to connect his brain to solenoids to trigger percussion sounds.  Nicolas Collins is has achieved fame by taking everyday electronics apart and finding ways to create music with them.



This session would be interactive and include a demonstration in hardware hacking. This session would include music, electrical engineering and aesthetics of sound. This session could also be interactive and be held as a workshop. The class could bring in basic children’s electronics, make sound such as a Tickle Me Elmo and by the end of the session have a fun music-making device.  The individual members of the transduction team will be able to act as though they are an artist for a session and physically create something. Instead of interpreting or thinking about how transduction themes occur in a lecture, they would be doing the transduction.

This session would be greatly different than others because material will be created in real-time and transduction themes will manifest through experimentation. Nicolas Collins will also be able to give a historical overview of techniques and compositions that use the techniques that the transduction team will be experimenting with. Through experimentation, the team will see transduction between music and electrical engineering take place and will also be able to use their own personal creativity and add to the material being transduced (Electrical Engineering > Music).


Collins, N. (2009). Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking. New York: Routledge. Ch. 3


Nicolas Collins interviewed by Josef Cseres

Reed Ghazala, the Father of Circuit Bending 


Proposed by Max Tfirn.