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The Window Gallery presents the work of contemporary makers of unusual and newly invented musical instruments, including emerging artists as well as recognized pioneers. The emphasis is on originality in concept and design, recognizing the seminal role of the search for new sounds in the expansion of musical horizons. Equally essential to the exhibits are notions of beauty, craft, and humor.

The Window Gallery is curated by Bart Hopkin and David Samas. Located at 55 Taylor Street in San Francisco, the gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm, and during performances.

Email the Gallery Manager for information, questions, comments or to propose an installation. View past installations.

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Mon, Jul 1 — Thu, Aug 29, 2019
Johannes Bergmark: How Do You Invent Something?

© Rene Jakobson / renejakobson@hotmail.com

Johannes Bergmark: How Do You Invent Something?

Artist Statement

Meeting Hal Rammel in Chicago in 1987 was the decisive moment for me to open my eyes for experimental musical instrument (EMI) building, through his beautiful and imaginative work, generous friendship and the collaborations that we did. He also let me know about the inspiring network of inventors to be found in and around the magazine EMI, edited by Bart Hopkin. After some years, I also published an article about my work in there. To be invited to exhibit, some 30 years later, by Bart Hopkin, is like the journey has come to a full-circle and a dream come true. Although there is only space for some of my portable favorites, others will be displayed in photos and explanations.

The title refers to my noticing that every instrument I made has had a different kind of idea as a source. They are examples of dreams, whims, discoveries, chance occurrences, materials, playing methods etc. Funnily enough, never has the sound come first. A large part of the explanation for the multiplicity of sources of invention is an improvisatory practice and a surrealist, poetic attitude where playful, associative, analogic thinking comes before the goal-oriented approach that might follow.

I hope the exhibition will inspire both musicians and non-musicians, and hope that I too am inspired through the process of making it and meeting the people appearing at the exhibition.

Artist Bio

I am a multidisciplinary artist working mainly in the fields between free improvised music, experimental musical instruments making, sound poetry, text-sound composition, sound sculpture, sound installations, sound environments, workshops and lectures for all ages, and critical and poetic writing.

Since my education as a piano and harpsichord builder, which I graduated from with a Gesellenbrief in Germany 1996, I have been a freelance musician and artist as well as a piano technician. In 1999-2000 I studied at the Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm in electro-acoustic music composition. I also have a background in butoh, theatre, and jesting.

At present (until May 2019), I am doing my master’s thesis which involves improvised music and an experimental musical instrument construction.

My main focus is in creating experimental musical instruments, or more precisely, poetic material interfaces for sound exploration and adventure. This also includes selected found objects that I use as instruments but which also become actors in a musical object theatre.

I have done several projects and interactions that involve available resources and found materials on sites that I come to more or less empty-handed.


Thu, Aug 1 — Sat, Aug 31, 2019
Atrium Display, Roxanne Nesbitt: Symbiotic Instruments

Atrium Display, Roxanne Nesbitt: Symbiotic Instruments

For my on-going project Symbiotic Instruments, I design and make sounding objects to expand the sound palette of traditional instruments. I have explored stretching strings over drums with percussive handmade bridges, and ceramic instruments played inside the grand piano. The ceramics alter the sound of the piano by muting the strings and highlighting harmonic nodes. They are also resonant percussion instruments unto themselves.

The work evolves and grows. Symbiotic Instruments started as a sonic investigation, fueled by a playful curiosity into the strange sound world of altering instruments. Now it means something more to me.

I am interested in juxtaposing the mass produced standardized, highly tuned instruments, with the intuitive work of the hand. With ceramics, this is also about bringing domestic-like objects, tools for “women’s work,” into my sound palette. By making my own instruments, I seek to divorce myself from macho, misogynistic attitudes, which still dominate avant-garde, experimental music and new instrument design.

After all, I was first impressed by ceramic sounds when cooking, cleaning, and washing dishes.

The drawings show techniques used to play the instruments and symbols I use in my scores when composing for these instruments. The symbols are part of on-going research and development of a performance lexicon. This research is indebted to drummer/ percussionist Ben Brown, and pianists Lisa Cay Miller and Cory Smythe.

Artist Bio

Trained as an architect and orchestral contrabassist, Roxanne Nesbitt is an interdisciplinary artist, investigating the space between sound and design. Her research includes contemporary classical composition, electroacoustic music, improvisation, experimental instrument design, sound installation and performance.

Recently, Roxanne has focused on her project, symbiotic instruments, where she designs, builds, and composes for “parasite-like” acoustic instruments that are played in or on existing traditional instruments. With the support of the Canada Council, Roxanne made 146 ceramic percussion instruments and composed five new pieces which were debuted, at a recent concert at the Western Front in Vancouver, Canada.

Roxanne collaborates with dancers and choreographers as a performer and composer. In January 2019, Roxanne composed a live electroacoustic score for the Biting School’s Suddenly Slaughter, presented at the PUSH festival. Roxanne also fronts her own band, Graftician as vocalist /noise maker. Recently, Graftician released the EP Mandarins, which explores the ephemerality of love and self through vivid samples, poignant lyrics, and creative orchestration. She is a member of the improvised duo, why choir alongside Juno-award winning drummer Ben Brown.

Roxanne is half-Trinidadian and residing on the unceded Coast Salish Territories aka Vancouver, Canada.


The Window Gallery at the Center for New Music is supported by the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2016-17.
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The Window Gallery at the Center for New Music was supported by New Music USA in 2014.