VIDEO: SoundBoxes Workshop + Performance Berlin JUL 2015

Posted in Documentation on November 11th, 2015 by admin

SoundBoxes Workshop + Performance Berlin JUL 2015 from macumbista on Vimeo.

SoundBoxes are small, primitive electro-acoustic instruments built from a wooden box, a speaker, a small audio amplifier and a contact microphone. During the first of two workshop days, participants learned about electricity, how it becomes sound and then how to build their own personalized SoundBoxes.

On the second day, they explored the possibilities of the SoundBoxes through a series of listening and improv exercises, with the goal of collaboratively creating the score for an immersive, surround-sound performance inspired by the works of Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, John Grzinich, David Tudor, Gordon Monahan and others, performed in a darkened room for an eyes-closed audience.

In the piece, a swarm of individual, simple sound sources such as tones and textures are modulated and moved through the space physically by the performers to create a complex sonic environment. Delicate and intimate sounds pass closely near the bodies and ears of the audience, while stronger, more extreme sounds occur at the edges of the space to give a sense of the architecture of the room and the objects in it.

More info:


Mert Aslantürk
Itai Bauman
Nicola Gomiero
Claire Guerin
Bethan Lloyd
Zeno Mainardi
Manami N
Rory O’Brien
Javier Salthú
Max Virnich
Ben White
Chris Zahn
Lea Zamiecka

Video by Montse Torredà Martí

18-19 July 2015, Atelier Macumba Berlin

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Signal Culture Residency

Posted in Announcement, Documentation on October 3rd, 2015 by admin

Broken Rope [Benjolin Vector Graphics test 3] from macumbista on Vimeo.

From 5-15 OCT 2015, I will be Toolmaker in Residence at Signal Culture in Owego New York.

While there, I intend develop a PCB which can be used for producing vector graphics, viewable via Vectrex, Wobbulator/hacked TV, laser display or other analog systems, which takes one or two audio inputs as well as control voltage. This board should include function generators, quadrature oscillators, phase shifters and multipliers, and could produce either traditional Lissajous figures using the analog multipliers or raster-type effects using synced function generators. The ultimate aim of the board is not only the development of artistic works, but also it’s use as the core of a future analog vector graphics workshop where participants both build and experiment with the circuit.

The lo-res sketches included here were created in September 2015 in Berlin using a vector monitor [V INPUT, H INPUT, Z-AXIS INPUT, PULSE MARKER INPUT] + Dual “Butterfly” Benjolin.

Benjolin Vector Graphics [test 1] from macumbista on Vimeo.

Event Horizon [Benjolin Vector Graphics test 2] from macumbista on Vimeo.

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Macumbista FuzzTone SoundBox

Posted in Announcement, Documentation on May 6th, 2014 by admin

A new generation of the SoundBoxes is born, combining the touchable body contacts and high-gain portable amplifier from the original design with a nasty distortion with enough controls to keep your fingers busy wiggling for a long while.


* Large, high-efficiency (read: LOUD!) 12cm speaker
* High-gain input, suitable for contact microphone, electric guitar, etc. (Line level signals can be attenuated if clipping is not intended.)
* Line output
* Neutrik 6.3mm (1/4 inch) jacks on both input and output
* Four-control, switchable, extreme[!], vintage hand-selected Germanium transistor distortion
* Six “circuit-bending” touchpoints
* 9V battery operation
* Includes a resonant spring contact microphone.

This SoundBox could easily be used as a portable guitar amplifier with built-in distortion, for example, or can be used as an instrument in it’s own right to create a wide range of electronic sounds and textures.

The sound of this instrument is quite similar to what can be heard in the following video (however the video was done with the SoundBox and FuzzTone distortion pedal as separate units). Through the creative use of feedback, as well as the CHP and SQZ settings on the pedal, generative tones and chaotic patterns can emerge:

nonlinearity I from macumbista on Vimeo.

The price is EUR 225 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 190 (shipped outside the EU) plus shipping. Each instrument is made to order with an approximately one month waiting time. A 50% deposit on the price is required to begin work.

Please contact me using the CONTACT page here, or through MACUMBISTA at-the-domain GMAIL dot COM. Thank you for your kind attention.

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MAAJAAM Weird Sound Workshop Estonia

Posted in Documentation on July 30th, 2013 by admin

From 13-16 July 2013, I led a small group of workshop participants to build their own electronic sound instruments–either the Weird Sound Generator (from the Music From Outer Space website), or one of my own SoundBoxes. The location was MAAJAAM, an experimental residency/workshop space initiated by Timo Toots in an old farmhouse in the Estonian countryside near Otepää.The workshop ended with a group presentation and invitation to the audience to play the instruments in the outdoor garden of the Genialistide Klubi, Tartu.

I would like to extend my admiration and gratitude to the hard work of the participants: Aivar Tõnso, Annabel Põder, Bianca Triinu-Toots, Kaarel Narro, Kalev Toots, Mihkel Tomberg, Taavi Suisalu and Timo Toots.

MAAJAAM workshop “Music from outer space” from Timo Toots on Vimeo.

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Duelling Benjolins

Posted in Announcement, Documentation on July 11th, 2013 by admin

Duelling Benjolins from macumbista on Vimeo.

Although I have been building Benjolins for more than one year, this was the first night I actually had two Benjolins finished at the same time. So of course I had to get them communicating with each other. As usual, please forgive the less-than-high-fidelity in-camera mic sound.

I’m taking reservations for four new hand-made Benjolin 2013v3 pieces to be produced in August. The design will be slightly different, more “modular” in style, with attenuators on all the control voltage inputs. Price should be EUR 495 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 416 (shipped outside the EU).

Let me know if you are interested, and thanks for your kind attention.

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WolfTone SoundBox

Posted in Documentation on June 23rd, 2013 by admin

This WolfTone SoundBox contains a children’s toy voice-changer circuit which has been modified to include three switches and six touchpoints which interactively modify the sound, 9V battery/DC jack power, a line-level/headphone output, a backlit transparent speaker and an interior lined with handmade Japanese paper. A detachable condenser microphone provides the input to the circuit, which can be either the performer’s voice or feedback from the speaker.

Please view the video at the bottom of the page for a demo of the first prototype circuit.

The price is EUR 225 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 190 (shipped outside the EU) plus shipping. Each instrument is made to order with an approximately one month waiting time. A 50% deposit on the price is required to begin work.

Please contact me using the CONTACT page here, or through MACUMBISTA at-the-domain GMAIL dot COM. Thank you for your kind attention.

WolfToneBox Demo from macumbista on Vimeo.

WolfTone Drumming by Jack Herz.

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VIDEO: Experimental Sound Instruments Workshop, TAIK MediaLab Helsinki

Posted in Documentation on February 20th, 2013 by admin

Experimental Sound Instruments Workshop, TAIK MediaLab Helsinki from macumbista on Vimeo.

Students from my Experimental Sound Instruments workshop demonstrate their hand-made projects on the final day. Their instruments involved a variety of technologies, including Arduinos, solenoids, motors, transducers, pickups and amplifiers which I presented over the week. This workshop, which I give at the school annually, ran from 04-08 February 2013 at the TAIK MediaLab in Helsinki, Finland. The students presenting were Johanna Storm, Ari-Pekka Leinonen, Scott McGregor, Saku Kamarainen, Ana Gutierrez, Thomas Svedstrom and Rajeev Siewnath.

My next MLab workshop should be in Oct/Nov.

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Posted in Documentation on October 16th, 2012 by admin


TONEWHEELS is an experiment in converting graphical imagery to sound, inspired by some of the pioneering 20th Century electronic music inventions, such as the Light-Tone Organ (Edwin Emil Welte, 1936 Germany), the ANS Synthesizer (Evgeny Murzin, 1958 USSR), and the Oramics system (Daphne Oram, 1959 UK). Transparent tonewheels with repeating patterns are spun over light-sensitive electronic circuitry similar to that used in 16 & 35mm motion picture projectors to produce sound.

The TONEWHEELS Hurdy-Gurdy presented at Acces(s) is not an “interactive” artwork in the common sense. While it does not reward the impatient museum visitor with flashing lights and noises at the simple touch of the button, it does invite participation in the process of technological music creation. Although it first appears to be a very traditional instrument known to many folk-music cultures, it functions in a very different way which can only be discovered by playing it.

The artist would like to thank Tobias Traub of Oroborus Customs e.K. and Carlo Crovato for their invaluable assistance in creating this instrument. Circuits designed by Jessica Rylan and Eric Archer are also used within the system.

More information on the TONEWHEELS project can be found at


This instrument functions by turning light into sound. The audience is invited to experiment with it, provided that they read the following instructions and handle the instrument carefully.


1) Pick the instrument up by the strap and put it around your neck. You will hold the instrument as seen in the painting shown below, “Jeune fille à la vielle”, by Jules Richomme (1882). Please handle the instrument by the edges. Do not handle the triangular area in the middle, this area is very delicate!

2) Activate the power switch and adjust the volume knob at LOCATION A.

3) Using your the fingers of your left hand, locate the pressure-sensors at LOCATION B. When you press these, you will see different lights turn on at the center of the instrument.

4) With your right hand, turn the crank at LOCATION C. This will spin a wheel printed with transparent patterns. These patterns break up the light which falls on several light sensors, creating the basic tone of the instrument.

5) The sound of the instrument passes through a filter which can change its tone. The controls for the filter are marked in green at LOCATION D. The switch controls whether low, middle or high frequencies are passed through the filter. The controls marked “LFO” can be used to modulate the filter, while the controls marked “FIL” are used to affect the frequency and resonance of the filter.

6) There is also a distortion effect, marked in red at LOCATION E. The distortion only works when the large button has been clicked, and the red light is on. The four controls marked “DIS” control different aspects of the distortion.

7) When you are finished, please gently set the instrument down flat on the table and turn the power off.


1) The speed of the wheel affects the basic frequency of the sound
2) The filter and distortion shape that sound, but can also produce sounds of their own.
3) A good place to start is with the distortion off and all the controls set to the middle position.
4) There are some control settings which may not produce any sound at all!

“Jeune fille à la vielle”, by Jules Richomme (1882)



This hurdy-gurdy project might be the most complicated thing I have ever tried to build, involving quite a bit more technical research and development by myself and several others than I expected at first. All in all, we took about two months to build something that really needed a year to do right. Live and learn, unfortunately in that order. So when it was all over, and I finally had my first free day in ages, I took a little walk in les Pyrénées with Vincent Meyer

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A.LIVE with Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez at Basic Electricity Berlin

Posted in Announcement on September 22nd, 2012 by admin

A•LIVE Information Metabolism from Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez on Vimeo.

I will be playing a live, improvisational set for modular synthesizer, found objects and SoundBox at Basic Electricity Berlin on Friday 28 September 2012. Joining me will be video artist Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez with her live electronic microscope visuals. This will be our first, exploratory outing with the A.LIVE bio-art project, and we’re both quite curious to see how it goes. Hope some of y’all out there can make it.

Incidentally, the audio in the above video comes from the soundtrack of Machine Deva, the recent collaboration I did with my father, Steve Holzer. Interesting to hear it in another setting… Machine Deva recently won the Best Experimental Film prize at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival. Way to go, Dad!

I will be offering copies of the Machine Deva soundtrack on CDR and DVDRs of the film itself some time in mid-November. Due to the extremely detailed nature of the hand-animation, which seems to be hopelessly corrupted by any sort of compression process, Machine Deva will never likely get put online. So unless you happen to be around when Steve or I screen it, this might be your only chance to view this remarkable work. Get in touch if interested…

Now Playing

neil young-on the beach[1974]

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Regnskov 2012 in Copenhagen and Aarhus

Posted in Announcement on August 16th, 2012 by admin

Mads Bech Paulszewski-Hau and I will be running the “Rainforest” series of workshops at two events in Denmark next month: the LAK Festival in Copenhagen (6-9 September 2012) and the BY i BY Festival in Aarhus (14-16 September 2012). There are still spaces in both workshops, particularly the Aarhus one (which will be outdoors!), so please get in touch if you are interested at MACUMBISTA at the domain GMAIL dot COM.

Regsnkov 2012 is a contemporary re-interpretation of David Tudor’s series of compositions from the 1970′s entitled Rainforest. It uses various types of sonic transducers to play live sounds through a selection of resonant, found-metal objects in the performance space. A matrix mixer allows the sound from any of the performers to be sent to any of the objects, creating an immersive, tactile and spatial sonic experience.

The project is developed in a workshop format with up to 8 participants over a period of several days. The participants will work from the bio-acoustic model of an actual rainforest, where it is necessary for each species’ survival that they can both hear and be heard within their own niche of the busy forest soundscape.

You can download a PDF of information about the project here:

Other up and comings:

28 Sep – [w/Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez] Basic Electricity, Berlin DE (more on this soon!)
9-13 Oct – TONEWHEELS, Le festival accès(s), Pau FR
17 Oct – TONEWHEELS, RIAM Festival, Marseilles FR
22-26 Oct – Neanderthal Electronics, Danish Art Academy, Aarhus DK (TBC!)
29 Oct-02 Nov – Neanderthal Electronics, Nordic Sound Art, Copenhagen DK
05-09 Nov – Neanderthal Electronics, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki FI
16 Nov – TONEWHEELS, VisionSonic, Paris FR (TBC!)

Now Playing

crippled black phoenix-(mankind) the crafty ape[2012]
wovenhand-live at roepaen[2012]

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