We have done many workshops on our projects and working methods in the past.
Ranging form art-, music- and architecture students to children workshops.
The workshop are different each time we do them. Like The workshop in HFG in Karlsruhe exploring the potentials of dead computers as music and sound making instruments. Half circuit bending, half hardware hacking. A vinyl workshop and special music cover design at the Royal Art Academy in Stockholm or “Made In Taiwan” for the MOCA Taipei resulting in a sound installation that invites people to play with a complex mechanical orchestra, installed in the museum by using their mobile phones. To The Composed City workshop that was organised for architecture students from the TU Berlin and masterclass sound studies students from the Universität der Künste. On the topic sound (art) in public space. The uniquely mixed group developed ideas on how sound design and physical design of public space can be combined and how public space can be played as a musical instrument. These ideas were then projected in a specific location, the Wriezener Freiraum in Friedrichshain. The realised sound works then presented at the festival Tuned City.
In these Workshops we like to exchange our vision and experience with the future generations, and we teach not so much our building techniques as more the creative thinking.
KIDS-COBRA Workshops Building and Performing Mechanical Instruments
During our Staalplaat Soundsystem performances and installations, usually featuring odd machine orchestras constructed from a plethora of found objects, we noticed that children were fascinated by our way of playfully misusing everyday household items.
In 2005, we then decided to develop our first instrument-building workshop for children and introduced the concept at the Avanto Festival in Helsinki, Finland. We have been refining the concept and approach ever since.
Staalplaat Soundsystem workshops aim to stimulate and explain the creative process. We provide clear techniques and simple tools while guiding participants in the design and realisation of their unique ideas.
We take care not to influence the children’s creative choices, instead focusing on inspiring confidence in their own individual concepts and decisions. Our workshops encourage understanding that “anything is possible.” We avoid discussing “IF” something can be done, and focus on “HOW” an idea can be realized, allowing exploration and discovery.
And by keeping the workshop a “kids only” event, the children take a leading role, resulting in impressive and various creations (see photos) .
Over the years, we have found this methodology successful for teaching children to find creative and inspired solutions to problems.
The workshops have been presented at – LACE Los Angeles – 100 copies space Cairoo-MOCA, Taipay_Kleylehof (Vienna) – Hertz festival Athens- The new biennial for art and technology in TEKS Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre Norway-Berlin, CTM at HBC – Picnic Society, Mostoles Madrid – Mayhem @ timesup Linz – Dis-patch/kid’s-Patch festival Belgrade – Stuttgarter Filmwinter festival for expanded media. – Avanto Festival, at Finnish National Art Gallery-Noorderparkkamer Amsterdam-.
Structure of the workshop
Our children’s workshops consist of two parts, each requiring one day.
The first day is all about making various types of acoustic and mechanical instruments. Children work in small groups, helping each other create what we call the “Philharmechanic Cobra Youth Orchestra.”
Using obsolete household electronics, we teach the students to design and build entirely new “machine instruments.” We also show them how to use PVC piping and plastic bottles to make simple acoustic instruments, such as flutes.
On this day, the children learn that expensive instruments or fancy consumer electronics are not necessary for the creation of great music. With just a bit of research, and some playful modification, any child can find a world of music in their own kitchen, cellar or storeroom!
We join the children in this “research & development quest” for new sound sources and noise-making devices, using a methodology similar to our regular working regime: trial, error, experiment and play
On the second day of the workshop, the children learn to “perform” with their new instruments as members of the Philharmechanic Cobra Youth Orchestra.
The mechanical instruments invented on Day One of our workshop are attached to our custom-made control system (see below).
The system provides control over the volume of the children’s instruments and also the rhythm of their performance.
We use voltage dimmers to control the volume of the sounds, and a simple home-made electronic sequencer to manipulate the rhythm. All of the individual sequencers are linked to a master control unit, keeping the various instruments in sync.
Kids Cobra conducting system
The performance is guided by the rules of “Kids Cobra,” a Staalplaat Soundsystem musical composition.
Kids Cobra evolved from the John Zorn work “Cobra,” a system with very detailed rules, but no pre-conceived sequence of events, for a group of musical improvisors and a prompter.
The composition consists of a set of cues notated on cards, and rules corresponding to the cues that tell the players what to do. The number of players, instrumentation and length of the piece is indeterminate. Because there is no traditional musical notation and the players improvise, the piece may sound radically different from performance to performance.
There are classes of Cards, each with an associated body part,
Ear for Music styles , rhythmical, drone “cartoon”
Eye for Changing the ensemble, solo and duo,
Mouth for Varying one dimension and endings (change what your doing, or volume),
There are a total of 11 cards and 6 basic hand cues.
THE CARDS CAN BE USED SINGLE OR IN COMBINATION WITH OTHER CARDS.
THEY CAN ALSO BE USED FOR MULTIPLE PEOPLE OR ONE PERSON.
DRONE – Play one long tone.
PLAY A MELODY
CHANGING THE ENSEMBLE
PLAY DUOS- make eye contact with other player and play duo, give clear signal to end duo
VARYING ONE DIMENSION
VOLUME FADER – If you are playing loud fade to soft. If you are playing soft fade to loud.
Philharmechanic Cobra Youth Orchestra slideshow