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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 that belie the humble origin of these materials.

In 2013, Josh Baum shot and edited this short video that provides an up close and intimate view of the Springboard and its sounds.

This YouTube Playlist collects all the Springboard videos, including an earlier series made in 2007 by Gretchen Hasse for Gearwire. I explain and demonstrate the Springboard's construction and sounds. The playlist begins with an edit Gretchen made, featured on the DVD accompanying the 2nd edition of Nicolas Collins's wonderful and essential book, Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking.

The sound design and music made with the Springboard can be heard on several recordings. My 2008 CD Rarebit was performed and recorded with Steve Barsotti, who played his own self-built instruments, the "roto rod" and "spring frame," both very similar to the Springboard. Recent performances and compositions are on my SoundCloud profile, and the 2013 release "Rub," by Auris with Bay Area percussionist, Gino Robair is available on Public Eyesore (CD) and Pan Y Rosas (free download). A dozen recording, most of them employing the Springboard, are available on ericleonardson:composer&performer.

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

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 - 2018 Eric Leonardson. All rights