Russell Michael Harmon > STEIM Orientation

russ-kaldidalur2My name is Russell Michael Harmon. I am currently completing my MA by Independent Study in Music, Technology and Innovation at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.

My research revolves quite tightly around my two major interests, guitars and DIY electronic musical instruments. Naturally, as both a guitarist and an electronic musician, I do not want to separate or isolate either element; I wish to marry the two together physically and audibly for both performance and composition.

My MA thesis reflects this desire:

The Integration of Guitar Performance and Live Electronics: the Circuit Bent Guitar

Throughout the degree, I have been researching electronic modifications to the traditional electric guitar in order to establish the scope of existing work. My research has lead me to experiment with the audible and gestural capabilities of guitar electronics and guitar FX pedals. This has involved the modification and adaptation of guitar parts and circuitry using ‘circuit bending’ techniques to construct small feedback generating instruments. See below:

circuitbent-pedals77

My final project, the Circuit Bent Guitar, which is still currently under construction, is essentially an extension of these initial experimentations. However, the circuit bent FX pedals are housed inside the body of the guitar with various pots, switches and body contacts located on the guitar scratch plate to control them.

My time at STEIM was an amazing experience and truly inspiring. I learnt a lot about STEIM´s technology and its endless possibilities, which generated numerous ideas for future projects. Through the lectures I learnt even more about areas that I had previously researched, including The Crackle Guitar project by Bertram Dhellemmes and Daniel Schorno and also the hybrid electronic musical instruments of Bert Bongers.

If I had to sum up my STEIM experience in one sentence, I would reference something that Takuro Mizuta Lippit, the artistic director at STEIM, quoted in his presentation, “making music by playing music”. I think this is often forgotten when making electronic music and it has stuck with me, making me rethink my own approach to composition.

Many thanks to everyone at STEIM for such a great experience, hope to reconnect in the future at some point.

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