Just Add Water...

We catch up with Swedish musician (and Makey Makey maestro) Pär Carlsson, who tells us more about Subseptance: a unique instrument that transforms simple water droplets into strikingly serene soundscapes.

It’s amazing... what is it??

It’s a device/controller/instrument that allows me to convert the tiniest bit of electrical current into pulses of sound – creating rhythmically odd music, randomized notes, and timbral sound structures.

Or in other words: it’s something that helps me create totally unique music – with water.

Wowsers! So... how does it work?

Every time a droplet is released, it falls onto copper wire placed behind the device. The Makey Makey then gives me a signal that I use to create the MIDI messages that make the music, which changes how it sounds. The notes can be either preset or random, based on what settings I’ve given the particular instrument.

The result is non‐tempo based ambient music, where all sounds are triggered by water.

Ordinary water?

Yup. Straight from my bathroom tap!

But why?? How?

I wanted to create a device that would play music without me controlling it. The prototype consisted of water filled rubber gloves with small holes in them, dripping onto a contraption made from parts of my fridge, pen springs, and wire. The version that I now use is made out of an industrial electrical switch and hospital drips; giving me precise water flow regulation.

What led you to Makey Makey?

I first encountered Makey Makey when I saw J‐Viewz play Teardrop on vegetables which I recalled when looking for sensors that could detect minute changes in its environment. I’d never used one before this project, but they’ve proved invaluable. They aren’t even used in the way I’d first intended, but without them I probably wouldn’t have had the device up and running so quickly.

What’s next? An album? A tour? A collaboration?

I will continue to work out more crazy ways to make interesting music and sounds with this device. Just from trying different functions out I have created eight pieces of sound exploration/music (listen to them here).

And finally... what the Dickens does ‘Subseptance’ mean??

I’m not sure if it means anything yet ;D. It’s a bit of a word play with “susceptible” and “sub". I felt like the word captured the mood of the sounds I’m making with it.

COO of Makey Makey