Walter Kitundu is a sound artist and inventor of original musical instruments that navigate the boundary between live and recorded performance. Inspired by hip-hop, other modern musical forms, and traditional Asian and African instruments, Kitundu’s phonoharps are hybrids of turntables and stringed instruments. At once highly sculptural art objects and functional instruments, the phonoharps offer a wide range of melodic possibilities and are surprisingly versatile in performance. The turntable’s pickup collects and amplifies any sound transmitted to it, allowing the performer to employ percussion and string resonance as well as digital manipulation, or sampling, of prerecorded material. Kitundu takes full advantage of the phonoharp’s flexibility in electro-acoustic compositions that seamlessly incorporate experimental, jazz, and pop music influences.
Many of Kitundu’s artistic pursuits, including ambitious proposals for public installations of his instruments, reflect his ongoing interest in the interaction between technology and the natural world. His elemental phonoharps, for example, draw on natural forces such as wind, waves, light, and the movement of birds to produce unique sound sculptures. An experimental instrument builder, composer, and musician, Kitundu’s interdisciplinary approach to music-making and performance is inspiring a wide range of musicians and audiences.
The Sound Department Colloquium Series is a weekly series of presentations by the department's visiting artists and scholars, faculty, graduate students and invited guests.