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16th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival

  • Various Locations SF Bay Area USA (map)

Thingamajigs presents another year of exciting new musical works for homemade instruments, found objects, DIY inventions, and alternate tunings by some of the Bay Area’s most innovative artists. This year audiences will see first hand instruments as unique as Fred Frith’s homemade string instruments, Danishita Rivero’s Hydrophone water instruments, sonic suits from Bob Marsh, re-tuned Fischer-Price instruments by Dennis Aman and the premiere of a new opera incorporating objects from the sea by David Samas.

The Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival is an annual event featuring experimental and traditional musicians and performing artists who incorporate made/found instruments and alternate tuning systems in their work. Each year, MFP&T invites such artists to join in a festival of workshops, music making, and performances with the goal of reaching a large, diverse audience of all ages. People can participate in instrument building and tuning and educational workshops, as well as hear unique sounds and compositions from up and coming artists. 

Now in its 16th year, Thingamajigs’ genre-crossing MFP&T Festival is the only annual event completely dedicated to music created with made/found materials and alternate tuning systems. Past participants include Carla Kihlstedt, Walter Kitundu, Pauline Oliveros, Brenda Hutchinson, Electric Junkyard Gamelan, and Laetitia Sonami.


Oct 9 in Oswald International

Featuring The Octoplayer (Thad Povey & Mark Taylor) + Suki O'Kane

About the Artists

Filmmakers Thad Povey and Mark Taylor independently dreamt of a record player that sported multiple turntables stacked to the heavens, posted their dreams on Facebook, collided and collaborated to create a sculpture that plays music, sings songs, and tells stories, all at the same time.

Suki O'Kane is a musician. a member of the Thingamajigs Performance Group, and the Octoplayer's biggest fan. She joins the duo with a four-speed califone, a wrench, and several objects, one of them perhaps a record.

Oct 12 in Meridian Gallery

Featuring Fred Frith and Sudhu Tewari + Tim Phillips + Todd Lerew

About the Artists

Fred Frith is a songwriter, composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist best known for the reinvention of the electric guitar that began with Guitar Solos in 1974. 

He learned his craft as both improviser and composer playing in rock bands, notably Henry Cow, and creating music in the recording studio. Much of his compositional output has been commissioned by choreographers and filmmakers, but his work has also been performed by Ensemble Modern, Hieronymus Firebrain, Arditti Quartet, Ground Zero, Robert Wyatt, Bang on a Can All Stars, Concerto Köln, and Rova Sax Quartet, among many others.

He continues to perform internationally, most recently with Lotte Anker, Evelyn Glennie, Chris Cutler, John Zorn, Eye to Ear (a septet performing selections from his film music) and his latest band, Cosa Brava, whose first CD—Ragged Atlas—was released in 2010 to critical acclaim. 

Fred is the subject of Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzels’ award-winning documentary film Step Across the Border.

Sudhu Tewari has been called a professional bricoleur, junkyard maven and young audio-gadgeteer. An early interest in disassembling alarm clocks and coffee makers gave rise to electro-acoustic instruments constructed with the remains of discarded stereo equipment, kinetic sculptures and sound installations. Sudhu builds audio electronics, acoustic instruments, kinetic sculptures, interactive installations, wearable sound art and recently began working with bicycles with wide variety of end results.

Highly educated at Mills College in electronic music, Sudhu has been seen performing improvised music in various configurations with the likes of Fred Frith, Cenk Ergun, Mark Bartscher, Tadashi Usami, Gunda Gottschalk, Eric Glick-Rieman and Shelley Burgon.

In 2006 Sudhu was selected to be the Artist in Residence program at the Recology in San Francisco. Since then, Sudhu’s visual and interactive art has been exhibited at Swarm Gallery, 21Grand, ProArts and FLOAT Gallery in Oakland, California, Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California, UC Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, California and Laboratoire Village Nomade and PROGR in Bern, Switzerland.

In 2010 Sudhu collaborated with sculptor Bryan Tedrick to create an interactive light and sound installation to “breathe life” into Tedrick’s 50 foot tall climbable steel sculpture, Minaret at Burning Man 2010. Tewari’s installation used the movement of climbers to control LED lighting, pre-recorded sound and electro-acoustic instruments, creating an immense responsive interactive sculpture.

Most recently Sudhu spent most of a week in a tree creating a site-specific interactive, kinetic sound installation at Montalvo Arts Center and has been working on a series of sculptures for an interactive sound garden.

Tim Phillips is an English sound artist, musician and inventor based in Oakland, CA. His work looks at making people curious about sounds and rhythms, while using participation and collaboration to encourage interdisciplinary and unexpected outcomes. Tim received a BA and MA in architecture from Sheffield University, England and has worked on public architecture and installations throughout Great Britain and France. He is currently working for a design studio, Gyroscope, Inc., designing interactive exhibits for museums across the US. Tim’s latest personal project ‘CMT creates: music’ explores combining collaborative art with raising awareness for a disease, Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT).

Todd Lerew is a Los Angeles-based composer and instrument inventor, currently pursuing an MFA in Experimental Sound Composition at CalArts. His work deals with the physical properties of sound and the nature of perception, exploring the use of sound as a plastic medium, and revisiting our understanding of what sound is and how it operates.
He is the inventor of the Quartz Cantabile, which utilizes a principle of thermoacoustics to convert heat into sound. He is the founder and curator of Telephone Music, a collaborative music and memory project based on the children's game of Telephone. His piece for e-bowed gu zheng, entitled Lithic Fragments, is out now on cassette on the Brunch Groupe label.

Oct 14 in Berkeley Arts Festival

Featuring David Samas + Dennis Aman

About the Artists

Composer Dennis Aman (born Alameda, California, 1971) studied Composition and Electronic Music at San Francisco State University with Richard Festinger and Wayne Peterson. Also trained as a Baritone singer, he performed and recorded as a member of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Aman's compositions include works for various chamber groups and chorus (with and without electronic elements). A large number of works have been written for the Yamaha Disklavier. His music has been performed in the United States as well as Europe, in Kaunas and Vilnius, Lithuania on the Is Arti New Music Festival, and in Odessa, Ukraine on the 2D2N (Two Days/Two Nights) New Music Festival, and most recently in Tokyo, Japan in July of 2013 by the percussion ensemble Bloom.

David Samas is a composer, cosmologist, poet, painter, performer, philosopher, farmer and father of 4; he is a practitioner and professor of arcane healing technologies and traditional magics- a field which includes massage, herbalism, hypnotherapy, psychoacoustics and shamanism. He has a BFA from the SF Art Institute in conceptual art and studied poetics at the New College of California, Vassar, Bennington and S.F. State. As a young man he performed with the SF Boys Chorus, the SF Opera and the SF Symphony with which he won a GRAMMY for the “best classical recording” of 1994. He also makes sacred geometry amulets and talismans, is an excellent cook, and self publishes small editions of hand bound art books.
Lately, he focuses on inventing instruments and extended vocal techniques. He is the creator of the Superb Metaliphone, the Gamelan Piano, the Crystalithaphone, Glassilalia and a number of musical paintings which serve as sets, orchestras and characters for his inventive operas and shadow plays. He uses Tuvan overtone singing and Tibetan deep chanting along with a host of birdsongs, whale songs, howling and polyphonic split tones to weave a dense tapestry of unusual sounds.

International cellist and composer, Doug Carroll expands into new sound domains with the use of electronic processing and creative thought. Carroll's compositions for electronic cello and tape feature the spontaneity and drama of a live performance combined with the richness and diversity of the taped material. His solo improvisations have received international acclaim for their stark originality and musical sensitivity. Additionally, he has composed for a variety of multimedia events, including modern dance, theatre, film, and video, as well as collaborations with visual artists. He studied composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Lou Harrison, and Anthony Braxton. He has an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College and a BA in Music from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Other studies include the Darmstadt International Course for New Music and the Royal Conservatory at the Hauge, Netherlands.

Tom Nunn has designed, built and performed with original musical instruments since 1976, having received a B.Mus. and M.A. in music composition from the University of Texas at Austin and S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook, and post-graduate work at U.C. San Diego. His instruments typically utilize commonly available materials, are sculptural in appearance, utilize contact microphones for amplification, and are designed specifically for improvisation with elements of ambiguity, unpredictability and nonlinearity.
Tom has designed and built over 200 instruments, representing three basic types: space plates, electroacoustic percussion boards, and skatchboxes. Space plates are metal sheets with bronze rods that are bowed; the plate is supported by inflated balloons, allowing the plate to resonate. Electroacoustic percussion boards are plywood sheets with various hardware devices attached such as nails, threaded steel rods, bronze rods, combs, etc., played with a variety of small percussion implements. Skatchboxes are cardboard boxes with objects such as washers, combs, toothpicks, bronze rod, dowel, etc. taped or glued to the exterior that are played with various modified combs. All of Tom’s instruments are amplified using contact microphones and have sculptural qualities.

Ron Heglin is a Trombonist and Vocalist working with extended technique on the Trombone and with spoken and sung imaginary languages as a Vocalist. His vocal music has been influenced by his study of North Indian vocal music. He works both compositionally and in an improvisational mode and is a member of the Bay Area music context as well as performing internationally. He is a founding member of the groups MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS, ROTODOTI, and BRASSIOSAURUS, and has performed with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Leo Smith, Henry Brant, Logos Duo, Tim Perkis, John Bischoff, Tom Djll,and Toyoji Tomita.

Grace Renaud is Director of Music at the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco (MCC-SF), Principal Pianist for the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus (OEBGMC), Pianist for Colla Voce, has a private piano studio, and was Music Director for the new musical "In the Hands of the Raven" by Peter Alexander. Grace holds a Master of Music Degree in organ performance from Mills College, Oakland. She also taught middle school for 9 years, has four children, and likes to boogie.