Thingamajigs is a genre-crossing arts organization that promotes, presents and performs music created with made and found materials or alternate tuning systems. Our mission is to develop and nurture the exploration of alternate materials and methods of creating sound, and promote collaborative efforts with other artistic disciplines not generally associated with festivals of music. With open workshops and performances, we welcome audiences/participants of all ages and backgrounds to join in a wonderful tradition started in the Bay Area by such composers as Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, and John Cage
Since 1997 we have presented world premiere works and performances by over 100 local, national and international artists. Known for our adventurous and genre-crossing programs, many of our artists have gained international recognition, with two MacArthur Fellows, Gerbode Foundation's Emerging Composers Awardees, and a McKnight Composer Fellow, to name a few.
Thingamajigs was founded as an art project in 1997 at Mills College, Oakland California. Created by Edward Schocker and Dylan Bolles, the project was originally conceived as a forum for composers/performers who develop new and unique ways of producing sound. The project soon broke out of the college environment and into an annual music festival called Music for People & Thingamajigs.
In 2004 a permanent group of organizers and advisors was created. They articulated the essential mission of the Thingamajigs: to develop and nurture the exploration of alternate materials and methods of creating sound, as well as promote collaborative efforts with other artistic disciplines. In addition to the annual festival, Thingamajigs began offering arts education workshops in local schools, providing instruction in the creation and performance of handmade musical instruments.
In 2005 Thingamajigs added its Pacific Exchange Series, which brings composers and performers from diverse areas of the Pacific Rim, such as Japan, Chile, Vietnam, and Australia together in order to exchange ideas and create music on a single concert stage. The organizers created this program to emphasize the commonalities of artists living on the Pacific Rim, as well as to showcase their diversity.
In 2006 Thingamajigs formalized its arts education program into Thingamakids!, which is a series of workshops, demonstrations, and performances designed for K-8 schools. This program works with children, cultivating hands-on instrument building, music appreciation, the study of sound produced through made and found objects, introduces fundamentals of experimental music found in the work of Henry Cowell, Harry Partch, Lou Harrison and John Cage and scaffolds “deep listening,” a composer's sound practice developed by Pauline Oliveros.
Now in its 15th year of existence, Thingamajigs is recognized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.