Back in 2007 or so I had an idea.

What would happen if you taught people the basics about building musical instruments from scrap bike parts and then turned them loose?

Where would they take it?

How far would it go?

Would the world become a better sounding place?

On Saturday, May 28 this idea was brought into being at the Museum Of Kinetic Art (MOKA) by a handful of local artists who had spent the previous four weeks building instruments of original design.

The instruments they improvised on were built during a five-part workshop series hosted by Bicycle Inter-Community Art and Salvage (BICAS). 

During that time workshop participants learned about the pioneering work of bike instrument and found object sound pioneers Cooper-Moore, The Portland Bike Ensemble and so many others.

From there they improvised : dreaming up designs, searching for interesting sounding objects in piles of BICAS salvaged bikes and traditional instrument parts donated by The Chicago Music Store, then mostly spent their time turning sonic thoughts into reality. 

They also learned how to amplify their creations by building inexpensive DIY contact microphones, something which I was privileged to see in action during a class taught by Eric Leonardson at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

One workshop participant who plays in BOREAS is taking his bike instruments on a West Coast tour.

Another plans on using what she learned to teach children in her local school.

Still another plans to simply explore her instrument's creative potential and all the sound possibilities a well-placed contact mic has to offer. 

I look forward to hearing where they take this next.

And if all goes well, perhaps I'll conduct a few more workshops along the way...