Integrated Circus: Sound Performances with Microprocessors

Ean White exuded no such confidence in his ability to control his rig, which included a homemade theramin [sic], built in collaboration with Bob Moog, and two 8-in nails, which Mr. White plugged into a pickle plucked from a jar of brine. White, who looks vaguely like Andy Warhol and does not consider himself a musician at all, announced that he had made only three decisions: what his “opening salvo” should be; that nothing should explode; and that the piece should be of finite duration. He made some final adjustments to the theramin [sic], originally built with a “full body range” of some 7 ft, now reduced to an 18-in range and very temperamental. “If everyone would just stop breathing,” he muttered, “the humidity level will remain constant.”

Mr. White cleared his throat, clicked his fingernails on the cabinet, scraped his stool on the floor. He clucked his tongue, depressed a foot pedal, moved the stool around, gradually moving his hand toward the theramin [sic]. Loops of clicks, clucks, and scrapes began to accumulate. More throat clearings, burps, and death rattles, the sounds repeated themselves in mounting cacophony. The composer/performer strapped a contact microphone around his head, rapped on his skull with his knuckles, and waved his other hand gently in the air. The sound stew got louder, and the pickle started to steam. “People have gotten research grants to investigate what happens when you strike an arc through a pickle,” White said later. This pickle finally burst into flame. An overdriven [sic] roar ensued, as if heralding a badly wrong connection. The noise stopped abruptly, ending the festival’s best use of pure electronics, chance sounds, and pickles.

–Joel Segel, Computer Music Journal, Fall 1995 Vol. 19 #3