Slider Synth in RNR

Slider Synth in RNR

Audrey Love


musicA bittersweet pleasure of living in Reno is watching from afar as Renoites move away and then blossom elsewhere. We grow ’em strong here, and if you move them from the desert into more fertile soil, they tend to flourish. But a better, purer pleasure is when those expatriated Renoites come back to town, either permanently to start new businesses or nonprofit organization, or at least for a visit to share some of their new knowledge, experience and perspectives.

I was perusing the various online events calenders, looking for interesting upcoming events that were deserving of extra attention, when I noticed that the Holland Project, a local all-ages youth arts organization, had an upcoming workshop on how to build a synthesizer. This was intriguing unto itself, but my interest was compounded when I read that the workshop was going to be taught by Audrey Love, a former RN&R photographer from a few years back. I had no idea she knew anything about synthesizers or how to build them so this was pleasantly surprising. I got her on the phone, and she told me about the slider synthesizer project she’ll be demonstrating.

“It’s an analog electronic device that makes noises,” she said. “It routes an electronic signal through an integrated circuit. It’s basically a 555 timer chip—a very, very small integrated circuit—and it takes information, particularly how much light is hitting a sensor and turns that into a pitch or tone. So if there’s lots of light hitting it, it’s really high pitched. If there’s not a whole lot of light hitting it, it’s really low pitched.”

The tiny device is constructed with an integrated LED light source. Love now works in San Francisco for website called, which demonstrates how to do various DIY projects—woodworking, metal working and electronics.

“I figured this would be a really good electronics project to bring to Holland because it talks about almost every type of electronic component that you could use for a rudimentary electronics project,” said Love. “It’s a really good beginners’ project. … I’m excited to talk about the functionality of all these different electrical components, like resistors and capacitors—things that can be daunting if you don’t know what they are.”

She says a basic knowledge of electronics is especially useful for musicians.

“Have you ever had an amp die on you when you were on tour? You can’t be the Fonz every time and kick it, and hope it works. … If noise is something you’re interested in, here’s a really good opportunity to completely change the way you’ve made things sound in the past.”

Love and Clint Sleeper, another ex-Renoite, a musician and artist, currently attending graduate school at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, have a collaborative creative project called Robot V. Future. Many of their projects involve building custom musical instruments for art installations.

“We wanted these really noisy instruments that we could play either for personal performance or that other people could play for interactive performance, and the only way we could really get the outcome we wanted was to do it ourselves,” said Love. “So it became a lot of self education.”

The synthesizer workshop isn’t just for musicians, but for anyone interested in learning basic electronics.

“There’s a lot of interest in learning simple electronics, and this is hopefully a gateway drug into circuit building,” said Love. “It comes out of necessity. We can’t find what we want—better fucking build it.”

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Click HERE to read this article on the Reno News and Review website.