Sound art

DIY – Do It Yourself

A therapy project turned into a series of innovative instruments.

Kenneth Kovasin is a Fenno-Swedish sound artist and experimental musician from Helsinki, Finland. His often minimalistic works are centered around creating self-built instruments. That is the case also with his latest project “DIY – Do It Yourself” that he says is a testament to 3 pandemic years of passionate instrument building and finding his voice as a harsh noise musician. So what started as a therapy project resulted in a series of innovative instruments that were on display and in use at Kovasin’s sound art exhibition DIY – do it yourself held at Akusmata 2.- 5.8.2023.

Inspiration for the instruments Kovasin found in the products available in hardware- and hobby-stores in addition to ideas developed by other people on the Internet. All the parts, including basic microphones, and effect pedals, are commercially available, but in Kenneth’s hands, the everyday objects have gotten an intriguing sonic profile. Visitors of the exhibition had the possibility of trying out an array of different self-made instruments and filling the room with a soundscape interactively conjured up with these tools. All instrumental sounds were processed in an effects chain, which is similar to the one which Kenneth used to create the noise frequencies for the work called “BRYSKT”.

Here’s a sample of instruments exhibited:


Piezo-microphoned steel cylinders on long stems. The friction of the cylinders and their contact with each other create a varied soundscape, from rough metallic gravel sounds to the sonorous tinkling of bells.

STRÅLAR (BEAMS) A kalimba-like instrument built from a found lantern. The sound created by the instrument varies from rough keys to dreamy music box melodies.

FJÄDER LÄTT (FEATHER/SPRING LIGHT) Strings stretched over two guitar microphones produce low notes and special sound effects.

VÄVA (CRANK) A small vertical two-tone wind machine whose cylinders are attached to piezo-microphones. In the second section of the instrument, the fabric produces soft atmospheres, and the guitar strings in the second section produce a rougher sonic world.

STICKIG (PRICKLY) A recycled, perforated candy box with guitar strings embedded in it. The piezo-microphone attached to the instrument amplifies metallic crackling sounds.

SNURRE (TWIRL) A drone-like bass instrument, built from the once popular finger drum and guitar microphone, producing continuous sound.

KALIMBA An industrial noise -style kalimba built in an aluminum case together with a piezo microphone. Strings made of different materials enable the instrument to cause versatile sounds, from soft vibrations to jagged keys.

HÖRDU (DO YOU HEAR) A small, single-string crank lyre. The instrument’s single-coil microphone amplifies the sounds of both the mechanism and the string.

TELEGRAF (TELEGRAPH) A do-it-yourself version of an electrifying device built from aluminum. The player plays with static noise and silence.

SKAKA (SHAKE) Industrial noise version of the classic maracas. The small aluminum case is filled with nuts and bolts to produce a jagged crunch.

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