Workshops - Sónar+D

Collaborative Nodal Synthesiser Workshop - Workshops - Sónar+D

Leafcutter John / HK

  • Saturday 17 15:15 - 17:45

    Workshop 2 - Sónar+D

The CD40106B CMOS Hex Schmitt-Trigger Inverter chip usually has a very dull life. It is often found tidying up the levels in the digital logic circuits. This is a tragic waste of a good chip and in this workshop we’ll use it for something altogether more exciting: we’ll be making a massive synthesiser out of a whole load of them...

Participants will build a synthesiser based on the CD40106B: we’ll look at how to make simple oscillators on a breadboard (no soldering required), examine how changing components can alter the qualities of the sound, and finally make the oscillators light-controlled and use the light created by each node to control the other nodes near it.

The workshop is run by musician and maker Leafcutter John.

Sónar+D workshops require separate registration and payment.


About Leafcutter John

Part of Mercury Prize-nominated experimental jazz band Polar Bear and a boundary-pushing musician, artist and inventor in his own right, Leafcutter John (aka John Burton) is known for his brilliantly offbeat sonic odysseys.

John Burton originally studied Painting at Norwich School of Art and Design. He graduated in 1998 and moved to London and began exploring the possibilities of recording and manipulating sound on an old computer he originally bought to write his Art School dissertation.

His first recordings reached the offices of Planet Mu Records in 1999 where its founder and Aphex Twin collaborator Mike Paradinas encouraged John’s more experimental efforts. Working with Planet Mu, John released 3 critically acclaimed albums which culminated in the release of The Housebound Spirit, an album which combined elements of music-concrete and electro-acoustic music with voice and guitar work more commonly found in folk music. It won an Honorary Mention at the 2004 Ars Electronica Awards, and was featured in The Wire Magazine’s Top 50 records of 2003.

His fourth album The Forest and the Sea Was nominated for Best Album (Quartz Award 2007) and was toured extensively throughout Europe and Australasia performing alongside Beck, Thurston Moore, Matmos, Nick Cave, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Jarvis Cocker, Yo La Tengo, Grace Jones, Beth Orton, Otomo Yoshihide, Aki Onda, Phillip Jeck, Carsten Nicolai, Tujiko Noriko amongst others.

Since 2010 John has been busy designing, building, and developing his light controlled musical interface. The interface is a music performance system comprising a light sensitive controller and specialised software developed by John that is played gesturally using handheld lights and other light sources. The sounds produced are strongly related to the performer’s actions and are all produced in real-time to create an immersive audiovisual experience. He’s performed throughout Europe using the system and given talks and workshops with it at various Music and Art Schools.

In 2012 he took this system to Vietnam at the invitation of the British Council and in 2014 played it to a sold-out Roundhouse in London supporting Imogen Heap.

In 2015 the interface won the Quartz Award for Innovation.

John is very interested in theatre, dance and poetry and in 2012 composed the music for Crow which was based on Ted Hughes poems of the same name. It was produced by Handspring, the puppetry company which became well known for its production of War Horse. In 2013 he was commissioned to create live music for Wayne Mcgregor’s Random Dance company.

John is also a key member of Polar Bear, a twice Mercury Music Prize-nominated band based in London.