Finalists in Moogfest 2014 circuit bending challenge embrace Moog’s tech-savvy DIY approach

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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circuit_bender_moogfest_2014Press release here:

Circuit bending is a creative medium that combines technology, sonic artistry and creativity. By altering the internal circuitry of electronic devices such as keyboards, drum machines, and children’s toys, circuit benders are able to produce new sounds not intended in the original design.

In celebration of this creative curiosity that fueled a young Bob Moog and all of those that follow in his footsteps, Moogfest issued their 4th annual circuit bending challenge in October and is now announcing MAKE Magazine as the official sponsor of the contest.

“We love the spirit of Moogfest which so aptly captures the curiosity, inspiration and enthusiasm of makers everywhere who love to tinker for tinkering’s sake and in the process discover new ways to enhance their hobbies and passions, whether it’s music and other creative pursuits,” says Vickie Welch, vice president of marketing for Maker Media. “MAKE Magazine as the official media sponsor of Moogfest underscores our commitment to support events like this that gather makers together to collaborate, share ideas and embrace community.”

MAKE will also be presenting the Music Makers panel as part of Moogfest’s daytime programming. In the spirit of Bob Moog, music lovers and crazed inventors have created new instruments from the oddest materials, and MAKE Magazine invites everyone to tweak, hack, and bend technology to their own will. Presentations and performances, hosted by MAKE’s editor Mark Frauenfelder, with Forrest Mims, author of Getting Started in Electronics; composer Nicolas Collins, author of Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking; Drew Blanke aka Dr. Blankenstein, mad scientist of analog synthesizers and atari punks; Jay Silver, founder of Makey Makey; and hacker/inventor Tom Zimmerman.

The finalists have embraced Bob Moog’s legacy of innovation and MAKE’s engagement in tech-savvy, do-it-yourself projects to bend and tweak every-day toys and devices to create new and exciting instruments.

MAKE’s own Mark Frauenfelder will be judging the finalists, joined by Google’s Ryan Germick and Moog Music’s Amos Gaynes and Andy Huges as co-judges. Judging will take place on Friday, April 25th from 11am-12pm in the Moog Store during Moogfest.

Grand Prize: Moog Sub Phatty & Two Passes to Moogfest 2014
2nd Place: Moog Slim Phatty & Two Passes to Moogfest 2014
3rd Place: Moog Minitaur & Two Passes to Moogfest 2014

The finalists:

Stephen Barnwell is an aspiring engineer in the UNCA Mechatronics program. He runs a small repair shop in Asheville, NC called ‘The Circuit Surgeon’ which offers repairs, assembly and modifications for a wide range of vintage and modern electronics. He is an avid synth builder with a special interest in non-conventional control systems and synchronous analog audio and video synthesis. The primary motivation for and function of the Cataritone is video synthesis.

Mike Sisk is 33 years old and lives in Santa Ana, California with his wife Emma. Mike works as a field service technician for an audio/video integration company. He has been working with and installing professional audio/video for over ten years. This device is built from a toy Kawasaki/Remco electric guitar, a toy voice changer, a kid’s cassette player, and a PT2399 delay kit. Here’s Sisk’s video.

George Gleixner is a 23 year old UVA graduate, musician and circuit bending enthusiast that began bending in 2008 after inspiration from Reed Ghazala’s work. Some of Gleixner’s bent instruments can be found in use by musicians and producers scattered throughout various countries, though most stay with him for use in composition. The device is a Hing Hon EK-001, a small Chinese-built children’s keyboard based on squarewave synthesis. It has been converted into an upright synth with wooden side panels, and a large plexiglass control panel containing a series of bends including distortions, glitches, various modulations, three additional LFOs, optic theremins, video inputs/outputs and more. Here’s his entry.

C. Freddi was born in Syracuse, NY. Interest in both music and electronics began early: not being able to afford a turntable, C. Freddi built his own out of Big Gulp cups, an old broken blender, and a sewing needle. He’s been bending since most were counting on their fingers, and he’s been pushing the circuit bending community to step up their game since 2008.Super Sonic Circuit Bending Helmet: Circuit Bend your senses in the safety of your own head via C. Freddi’s Super Sonic Circuit Bending Helmet: A Reflective, Transmodern Statement on The Creative Culture of Hardware Hacking, The Socioeconomic and Environmental Necessity of Using Sustainable Resources, and The Nature and Extent of Interactivity and Community Influence, 2014. Check out his video.

The judges:

Mark Frauenfelder, MAKE Magazine
Founding Editor-In-Chief of MAKE Magazine, founder of the weblog/print zine Boing Boing, & Editor-In-Chief of, Frauenfelder is also a blogger, illustrator and journalist.

Ryan Germick, Google
Ryan Germick leads the Doodle team at Google, which has created more than 2,000 illustrations, animations, and interactive experiences on Google homepages around the world.

Amos Gaynes, Moog Music
Product Development Specialist Amos Gaynes is a key member of the Moog Music Engineering Department, the team responsible for the electronic design of all Moog Music instruments.

Andy Hughes, Moog Music
Andy Hughes heads up the Moog Music Service Department in addition to his role as Moog’s in-house Modification Specialist.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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