Up Against All Oddstruments

A little while ago, Bora Yoon tipped us off to a great website called Oddstrument.com, devoted to “fantastic instruments and sounds from around the world.” It’s written by a young man named Tyler in New Mexico.

From music made with paper cups and rubber bands, to the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra, wave organs in San Francisco, Croatia and the UK, and a weird vibrating wooden tongue from Germany called a daxophone, Oddstrument.com features all kinds of strange and wonderful musical instruments.


One of my favorite recent posts on Oddstrument is the link to the collection of Harry Partch instruments that you can play online at American Public Media: THE SPOILS OF WAR and THE BOO. After you load the instrument on your browser, you can use your mouse or keyboard to “strike” various parts of the pictured instrument.

APM Partch

I can’t embed the interface here obviously, but you should go check it out. I’ve been banging away on these to counteract the construction noise in my apartment. Harry Partch and my plumber – now there’s an avant garde duo. If they could just agree on the number of pitches per octave…


Bora Yoon and her Sub-Woofin’ Spoons

Photo by Laurie Olinder

Photo by Laurie Olinder

Bora Yoon holds a small purple box in her hands. “It’s the Buddha Box II, which is a meditative box that Brian Eno made very famous, ” she says. “Many people think that he made them, but he just went to China and bought a lot of them.”

She flicks a tiny switch on the side of the device, and a very low-fi transistor drone emerges from its plastic speaker. “It’s just small little repeating loops of sustained tone, just something to help you, wherever you are, to meditate.”

The Buddha Machine is just one of the many strange items in Bora’s sonic arsenal. At her apartment studio in Brooklyn, there are disassembled wind chimes at her feet, effects pedals, singing bowls, a hand-cranked radio on the shelf, a conch shell, a toy xylophone and tin cans. She composes lyrical soundscapes with these objects, her ethereal voice, the viola, violin, guitar and Max/MSP.

When we visited her last week, Bora shared with us a piece she’s working on now, which is based on her travels in Thailand and the sound of a new instrument she’s created with LEMUR, called the Subwoofing Spoons. In this first video clip, she discusses her compositional process and the origins of the spoons:

In the next clip, Bora performs the piece, using the Subwoofing Spoons, her voice, viola, the chime sticks and the Buddha Machine. Some neighborhood dogs make their own contribution:

As a composer and performer, Bora’s graced the stages at BAM and Lincoln Center, and filled the sacred space at Church of the Ascension with sublime sound. She’s collaborated with other artists such as guitarist Kaki King, DJ Spooky and Ben Frost, and her album ((PHONATION)) contains her piece PLINKO: A Cellphone Symphony, which was profiled in the Wall Street Journal.

We’re so pleased that Bora Yoon is performing at the MMiX Festival. You can find out more about her on her web-site: http://borayoon.com/

(Keep your speakers turned up when you visit!)


MMiX FESTIVAL – Schedule of Events

The MMiX FESTIVAL of Interactive Music Technology
October 8-11, 2009 at Theaterlab
137 W 14th Street, New York City
(212) 929-2545

Tickets: $20 / $15 students & seniors
Available online at: https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/28175


6:00-7:45 PM Thursday through Saturday
Free and open to the public in Studio C

Interactive sound installations by
Chronotronic Wonder Transducer
led by sound inventor Steven Litt

8:00 PM – Performance
Bora Yoon +
Luke DuBois +
Todd Reynolds +

6:30 PM – Free Event
Ableton LIVE 8
Demo/workshop by DubSpot NYC
led by Chris Petti
8:00 PM – Performance
Dan Trueman and his Mini Laptop Orchestra
Jon Margulies / Hobotech
Joshua Fried / Radio Wonderland

6:30 PM – Free Event
– Ableton & Cycling ‘74 present: MAX for LIVE
with Todd Reynolds & Luke DuBois
8:00 PM – Performance
Patrick Grant Group
Kathleen Supove / Exploding Piano
Elliott Sharp / Janene Higgins

6:30 PM – Performance
Chronotronic Wonder Transducer
Ben Neill & Bill Jones
DJ Rekha / Basement Bangra

PLUS product giveaways of Ableton LIVE 8 and Cycling ’74’s MAX 5

* * * * * * *

The MMiX Festival of Interactive Music Technology is produced by Theaterlab, radio producer Jocelyn Gonzales, and curated by composer/performer Patrick Grant.

All events take place in the studios of Theaterlab which is located at 137 West 14th St., between 6th and 7th Ave., New York City. For more information (ticket info, directions, etc.) visit Theaterlab’s web site at http://www.theaterlabnyc.com.

Software and laptop improvements present new possibilities for composer/performers to create complex soundscapes in real-time during live performance. The focus of the festival is to demonstrate that these emerging audio technologies are instrumental in new artistic creations, and to inform the public regarding the current state of this art form. The artists presented in MMiX have set a new bar in that discourse and will provide live performances, media installations and workshops.

Ableton, creators of LIVE 8 and Cycling ’74, creators of Max/MSP/Jitter are primary sponsors of the festival with additional support by DubSpot NYC and Eventide.

Media sponsorship for the festival is generously provided by WNYC 93.9 FM and 820 AM, New York City listener supported radio.