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about the Springboard


The Springboard is an experimental instrument I built in 1994 to explore the sonic potential of coil springs and other readily available materials. The inaudible vibrations of these materials are amplified by one very affordable piezo disc contact microphone. When played with cello bows and homemade friction mallets, I am able to produce extraordinary sounds over a wide frequency range that belie the humble origin of these selected materials.

In 2013, while a visiting Copeland Fellow at Amherst College, Joshua Baum shot and edited this wonderful short video to provide an up close and intimate view of the Springboard with its sounds and my performance techniques.

More demonstrations of the Springboard's construction and sounds are featured in this YouTube Playlist, including an earlier series of interviews made by Gretchen Hasse in 2007. Gretchen helped on another video that features on the DVD accompanying the 2nd edition of Nicolas Collins' wonderfully informative and useful book, Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking.

20+ years of sound design and music made with the Springboard can be heard on several recordings listed on my discography page. A few I will note next.

Rarebit (CD 2008 Transparency/Mimeomeme) with sound artist Steven A. Barsotti features the culmination of our five years performing as a live improvising duo in Chicago. These studio compositions feature Steve's own self-built instruments, the "roto rod" and "spring frame." Both are are pictured in the CD art work and are similar to the Springboard, made of readily available materials selected and re-purposed for their sounds when amplified by contact microphones.


Rub (CD, Public Eyesore/Pan Y Rosas, 2013), by Auris with Julia A. Miller, Christopher Preissing, and Bay Area percussionist, Gino Robair. Visit Public Eyesore to purchase the CD or visit Pan Y Rosas for the free mp3 download.

An exciting new resource for artists, designers, and inventors is Cathy Van Eck's blog, Between Air and Electricity | Microphones and Loudspeakers As Instruments. Her August 2017 post about the Springboard includes new detailed drawings of the Springboard's pickup installation with links to my online videos. I highly recommend both her blog and getting the new book.

Earlier recordings made with the Springboard are featured on Animus (CD, Not In The Family Records/Asian Improv Records, 1998) with vocalist, Carol Genetti, and my solo release, Radio Reverie in the Waiting Place (CD, IEL/Not In The Family Records, 1999). Please visit my discography page for details on these CDs, and my composer&performer page and SoundCloud profile for more recordings of the Springboard in live performances and studio creations.

To date, I have four published articles about the Springboard:

Skip to the next page for more information about the Springboard and experimental instruments. I hope the useful links to sources and materials for making contact microphones and inventing your own instruments will inspire you. Photos of the Springboard may also be seen on Flickr and Facebook photo album.

All contents copyright 1998 - 2020 Eric Leonardson. All rights