Sonic Sculptures with Joe Willie Smith

Melanie Ohm | November 19, 2021

The Canal Convergence is an annual signature event for the City of Scottsdale. Artists, musicians, and technologists from around the world are selected or invited to use the backdrop of the “waterfront” for their creative expression. Our friend Joe Willie Smith hosted a workshop on Saturday night, November 13th in the Innovation Space, building a sonic sculpture in minutes, then giving participants the tools to create one of their own.

The sonic sculpture featured here uses what might have been a camping clothesline as a base. Joe then added rubberbands, waxed thread, and pick-up mics in the feet he created for support. He was able to tap, bow, and sing to produce a variety of sounds that filled the space through his amplifiers.

Listen as Joe talks about creating musical instruments from found objects, “sonic sculptures” as he refers to them, and how he began this work.

The Workshop! A variety of found objects and materials were provided by Joe for the creative exercise: buckets, grills, cans, car parts, wire, palm fronds, rubberbands, sticks, tape, clips…pretty much anything a person can think of. Throughout the workshop, he helped participants think about the qualities of the materials, and how the way they were¬† constructed and connected might influence the sound. Mics were attached to the instruments and plugged into the amplifiers to experiment further. Joe noted that he works for months on each sonic sculpture, and that he would continue to work on the instrument that he assembled and played for us. Taking things apart and reassembling them in different ways is part of the process.

The images below give some insight into a fun evening with participants of all ages taking part. Be sure to join the fun at the Canal Convergence next year! At the bottom of the page, you can learn more about how the event began.

Enjoy some of the public art from Canal Convergence 2021.

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