Mr. Resistor is an innovative class in which students are taught how to create musical instruments from found electronics and other objects. Armed with two toy robots named Freddy and Teddy, a violin with a bow made out of cassette tape, and a synthesizer assembled from a 1960s electric guessing game, last weekend students at Parsons the New School for Design took to the stage to perform rock songs they created out of these and other found objects.
The performance took place at The Openhouse in SoHo and was born out of a burgeoning DIY music movement where artists take the debris of everyday life, for example an amp made from a Ritz cracker box and instruments made from Gameboys, irons and electronic toys, and turn them into musical instruments to play at events such as Handmade Music Night and Music for People and Thingamajigs. It was cosponsored by Create Digital Music, a webzine and community site for musicians using technology, Etsy, a website selling D-I-Y products and Make Magazine, a magazine devoted entirely to DIY technology projects.
“The course teaches students how to use technology to make art. With simple electronic tricks, students are able to tap into their creative potential and make instruments and music out of their own imagination” said Ranjit Bhatnagar, a faculty member at Parsons who taught the course and who is also an artist creating music out of found objects, such as a wind-up noisemaker and a Theremin-playing robot.
In the course, which has 13 students and is in its third year, students were taught basic electronic manipulation such as circuit bending and encouraged to creatively explore this technology to create instruments. The instruments range from an electric hurdy gurdy (a stringed instrument) made of an old synthesizer and operated by a wooden crank, to an electric cello made from two-by-fours a student found in the hallway of the school. Please visit the course blog for descriptions, images and video of the instruments.