Hidden sounds: exploring contact microphones

Course Dates: 03/04/20
Time: 10:15 - 17:15
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Charles Matthews

Explore the inner world of sounds made by everyday objects, improvising alone or in a small group. You'll learn how to make contact microphones out of cheap components, record sound and apply effects.


What is the course about?

Contact microphones detect vibrations that travel through solid objects. Since they don’t pick up sounds from the air like a regular microphone, they can be used to amplify very quiet sounds, or find unusual resonances. This one-off workshop provides an introduction to using contact microphones to explore the hidden sounds of everyday objects and musical instruments. By the end of the workshop you will be able to use contact microphones in making your own music and sound art.

What will we cover?

- Examples of sound artists and musicians using contact microphones in their work
- How to attach contact microphones to sound-producing objects and connect to audio equipment.
- Exploring and improvising with the sounds of found objects
- How to make your own contact microphone from affordable components.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Attach a contact microphone to record sounds and apply simple effects
- Make and use a temporary contact microphone without the need for soldering
- Improvise with found objects (alone or with others) to create a short piece of experimental music.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This workshop is aimed at beginners. You don’t need to be able to play an instrument, just a willingness to open your ears and explore new ways of making sound!
We will record sounds with free software (Audacity) on Windows computers. Some experience in music technology would be advantageous but not necessary.
Making contact microphones at home requires some soldering skills. The tutor will demonstrate how to make a temporary contact microphone in order to focus on exploring sound. You will also be provided with information on how to make a permanent device and where to buy ready-made devices.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will be taught through demonstration, group discussion and improvisation, and hands-on experimentation. A brief introduction to recording with free software will be included.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no additional costs. You should bring a memory stick to save your recordings.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You may also be interested in the other Music technology and digital audio production courses, particularly Arduino workshop, Max/MSP, Sonic arts, BBC radiophonic workshop.

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details

Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Book your place

Course Code: MK704

Fri, day, 03 Apr - 03 Apr '20

Duration: 1 session

Full fee: £79.00
Senior fee: £63.00
Concession: £48.00

Or call to enrol: 222-66-889-99

Download form & post

Any questions? [email protected]
or call 020 7492 2630

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online . You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.

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