Index of Articles
Einar's articles from the NWCA Newsletter.
The Trimpin Cover Story
Important Note: These articles are history and all references
to upcoming meetings and contact addresses and phone numbers and other
things that change with time should be ignored. I decided to leave them
in for readability.
The Trimpin Cover Story
Born in the Black Forest, educated in Berlin, and with a work history so long he only uses the last
ten years so that it will fit on his two page resume, Trimpin looks very comfortable sitting in his
Wallingford studio. On the shelf behind him are mechanical dolls. Above him hang horns which
are perhaps 15 feet long, and around them are timpani drums. A wooden shoe with a mallet and
a solenoid mounted inside rests atop one of his mechanical inventions for driving an acoustic
piano - 88 solenoids with felt tips which press down on the keys.
It was in this studio in 1989 that the "America-Holland Line" performance occured, in which two
acoustic pianos were played simultaneously via Satellite connections. One phone line carried
audio, while another carried MIDI. Trimpin invited about 12 people over to sit in his studio and
listen. In Holland, a couple hundred people attended the performance. This was different in
concept from the Electronic Cafe experiments, in that, as usual, Trimpin created acoustic music
on both ends, not electronic, although his machines were triggered through MIDI.
That same year he created "Floating Klompen" in which a bunch of clogs like the one on the
shelf were set afloat on a pond, clicking in response to a sequencer or interactive human control.
He has also created water percussion instruments that are as beautiful to look at as they are to
hear. One can be found at the Museum Technorama in Switzerland just outside of Zurich.
Most of Trimpin's work these days is for museums and galleries. In the past about half of his
pieces were for music festivals where he would make an interactive musical installation and then
come in and perform on it.
At age 10 Trimpin started music lessons. He even had his own workshop as a boy and was
always building interesting things. He collected tube radios and at one point took the cases off
several of them, stacked them, and hooked up a pulley system between the knobs so that by
tuning one radio, he would effect them all. He was always interested in kinetics.
From his early years as a boy Trimpin has been interested in the aspects of spatialization of
natural sounds. He had to develop his own machines to drive acoustic instruments which were
mounted in different locations in a room. This was before computers, and so to drive rapid
sequences which could pan quickly about he would punch out disks which would affect hammers
in a manner similar to a player piano.
Other than computers, which are used only as a tool to distribute data to his acoustic
instruments, electronic musicians won't find that they have equipment in common with Trimpin.
Trimpin works only with acoustic sounds. No amplification, synthesis, speakers or any other
unnatural manipulation of sound is allowed.
In order to feed his passion for acoustic sound spatialization Trimpin has had an extensive and
broad education. He had formal music training from 1958-1970. He had an apprenticeship in
school for Electro-Mechanical Engineering from 1966-1973, and he holds a Masters degree in
Sozial Pädagogik/ Music and Art from Berlin, where he lived for 10 years.
He moved to Seattle in 1979 because he wanted access to Hi-Tech junk. At that time in
Germany he was not able to find the right sources for electronic parts, and it was hard to find
used computers. Here in Seattle he found junkyards and shops that carried just what he needed.
Trimpin showed me a photo sensitive controller he had built using parts out of a card reader from
At our next meeting, Trimpin will talk with us and share some slides of his installations. If you
would like to see Trimpin perform, you can catch him at the Random Access show at COCA on
Saturday, August 6th, and you can see an installation of his this September at Beyond Fast
Enough! Back to einar.com!
Einar Ask / firstname.lastname@example.org