Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tocante and Solar Sounders Workshop, Oberlin College

On the occasion of John Talbert's retirement from Oberlin College, the TIMARA dep't decided to celebrate his service to the aid of electronic and computer music. Tom Lopez phoned me and said he wanted to program the event with a wide variety of concerts, lectures, and workshops. Always on the hook for a visit to rural Ohio (seriously, I love the windy empty feeling in the fields, and the deep hidden rivers cut into the landscape), I proposed two workshops involving solar power. As he was my electronics and soldering teacher, I could really relate any project to John Talbert's original guidance. However, the tocante instruments and solar sounders are especially appropriate as the conservatory abhors strange tunings, and that it always seeks eco-musicality.

On two snowy days (3/2/17 and 3/3/17) we gathered in the SKYBAR which joins the older practice rooms and the high-newness jazz building. Mr. Talbert recommended the SKYBAR, and it did in fact have great light, acoustics, and work spaces. Twelve students built twelve tocantes, and the same amount built twelve solar sounders. The snow cleared the day after and we had clear skies to test the instruments and concertize with them.

I'm proud to be a member of TIMARA millenial faculty: (L to R) Aurie Hsu, Gary Lee Nelson, Lyn Goeringer, Peter Blasser, Tom Lopez, Joo Won Park, John Talbert, Julia Christensen, Peter Swendson. Not Pictured: Per Bloland
Opening the tocante presentation, I would lay the circuit boards out, along with cases, batteries and other stuff.
Then I might try to demonstrate scales and timbres while snow swirled the cupola.
Mister Talbert would distribute the precision strippers, nippers, and pliers.
Begin stripping one triplex wire and three duplices.
I'll show you how to tack the inductor and then whet under its feet.
John Talbert, circuit artist, teacher, and engineer.

The next day I rolled out a cart of capacitors for making our birds, monks, and trains.
Soldering, we used lead. Don't worry about it; musical instruments sequester lead, like the pipe organ, to speak Godly tones.
Elie and Patrick prepare solar sounder boxes.
A solar sounder having its capacitors installed, it becomes alive in time.
After a quick battery test, it is tethered to the sun by silicon for its life.
John Talbert, Travis Johns
Stacked solar sounders, color coding by Mary Lilith Fischer, who also took these pictures.

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